How to give your garden an instant boost for summer

Article by Homes to Love

Check out Homes to Love’s list of easy jobs that will give your garden an instant boost and make it barbecue-ready, just in time for summer 


How to give your garden an instant boost for summer

We’ve made it through a long, tough winter and although daylight saving, spring blossom and the acid-green lace of new leaves on trees has put a spring in our steps, chances are your garden is still looking a bit weary after months of wet, chilly weather.

There’s the list of usual tasks to do, tidying up garden beds, planting, weeding, feeding and mulching but spare a bit of time for those finishing touches which will help you to relax and enjoy outdoor living over summer.

Here are a few must-do jobs that will give the ambience of your garden an instant boost and make it “barbecue-ready”.

Get acquainted with the wonders of water blasting

If you’ve never managed to get your hands on a water blaster and have never felt the great sense of achievement as you transform paved areas, walls, fences and pathways then there’s never been a better time of the year to have a go. There are many outlets that hire water blasters if you don’t have your own or access to one.

Choose powerful equipment that’s a professional grade – a quality machine will do the job more thoroughly, more quickly. Direct the blast consistently and be mindful that the powerful arc of water can scour timber decks. Many of the higher-end blasters now have a rotating brush head that can be fitted to deal to decks, rather like using a floor polisher.


Paint it

Every Kiwi backyard from a certain era has the mandatory hardwood table and chair sets. They are great performers but over time can look very tired. Do yourself a favour and sand them back and give them a fresh coat of wood stain or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous splash on a coat of vibrant colour.

Cerulean or deep Moroccan blues, acid green, hot pinks and deep oranges are all perfect hues for giving weary outdoor seating a lift. And while you’ve got a paint brush handy, have a look at other areas of the garden that could do with a bit of TLC to brighten them up: pergolas, fencing, side tables and chairs and ceramic pots can all benefit from a lick of paint. And don’t forget to give your front door a face lift while you’re at it.


Try these instant fixes

Your garden is an outdoor living room and should be treated accordingly – it’s those little touches that will make an area inviting.

  • Splash out on some new pillows and squabs for an instant outdoor furniture makeover.
  • Get some new tea light holders. A few feature holders for larger candles will always make a striking statement.
  • Get rid of that mouldy umbrella and invest in a new one, or at least give the canvas a thorough scrubbing.
  • Buy a couple of small, matching feature pots and saucers and plant them with annuals for a table centrepiece that will give interest and colour for months with a bit of judicious feeding and watering.
  • Choose annuals with low, spilling habits so guests don’t have to crane to make eye contact. Hardy annuals such as lobelia and petunias are ideal.
  • And while we’re on easy ways to make an impact don’t overlook hanging an outdoor mirror as a great way to extend the dimensions of an area visually and create light and impact. Just make sure you coat the back of the mirror with water-resistant paint before you hang it.


Create a room

Some gardens straggle on forever with no real focus or sense of structure. Make sure you delineate your main entertaining area so that it functions as a distinct space. There are easy ways to achieve this. If the area isn’t decked or paved, select some interesting pavers or lay some chip to create a “rug” that marks out the central seating area. Get some troughs and plant them up to create an instant screen on one side.

Two or three troughs planted with easy-care specimens such as clumping bamboo, flax or astelia and large bromeliads like the monster Alcantarea imperialis will all add drama and privacy without cramping light and space. Buy some framed trellis to create an arbour for a bench seat and plant a vine to enclose it. There are all sort of readymade options available at garden centres to choose from. Laying stepping stones to entice visitors out into the garden – an easy and effective way to add a sense of mystery to a space.


 Have a barbecue blitz

Last but not least, have a look at what’s lurking under your barbecue cover. Give all surfaces a thorough scrub, check the gas bottle is full or you have wood chips on hand and review your selection of utensils. Time for a new pair of tongs? Have a little debrief about how easy it was to turn out al fresco meals last summer. Could you do with an additional prepping surface, space to plate meals or store condiments? There are all sorts of options available to create an outdoor “kitchen” without blowing the bank.

Words by: Sarah Beresford. Feature image styling by: Bibby + Brady. Photography by: Sarah Horn.

Additional photography (in order) by: Helen Bankers, Brett Stevens/, Chris Warnes/, Maree Homer/

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