When the sun breaks through and we get told that we’re about to experience a heatwave (for a couple of days at least) the whole world descends on the local DIY centre to grab all the outdoor ephemera to make it possible to live comfortably in the garden for the foreseeable future. Be prepared in advance and avoid the scrum in the garden aisle.
All gardens need a barbecue. Even vegetarians can enjoy fabulous food cooked outdoors and there’s nothing like the aroma of a crackling barbecue to make you feel like it’s really summer. Invest in a Weber kettle barbecue to ensure long life and easy cleaning as well as perfectly cooked sausages every time.
Outdoor furniture has come a long, long way from those horrid white plastic moulded chairs and tables of years gone by. Now canvas director chairs, beach striped umbrellas and elaborate cast iron bistro tables are affordable for every garden. Pick something classic in design and well made and it could last you for years to come. Ensure that you regularly clean all surfaces and keep textiles covered and wood sanded back and re-varnished.
As well as chairs and tables, comfortable floor cushions or even hammocks make garden living a little more comfortable and exciting. Throwing brightly coloured rugs and cushions over the lawn before a party can make a garden look lovely with minimal effort while a hammock or hanging chair can be the idyllic place to read a magazine and enjoy an ice cold drink.
Outdoor lighting is all too easily forgotten until you find yourself squinting across the table at your friends as the sun finally goes down. Choose solar lights which can be easily set in to beds or paths or twinkling fairy lights strung through trees, gazebos or pergolas. Flare-type candles also cast lots of light while giving a romantic feel, as do pierced metal lanterns holding tea lights, which look particularly effective queued up on garden steps.
For daytime use invest in a good quality paddling pool for the kids – another thing which you’ll regret not buying before when the sun comes out. Even the smallest inflatable pool can keep kids entertained for days while larger, deeper pools are irresistible for adults.
You might also consider the addition of wasp traps – the best are prettily coloured narrow necked glass affairs that not only look lovely hanging in gardens but effectively keep stingers at bay so you can enjoy a shandy in peace.
Additionally, if you intend to do plenty of outdoor entertaining be sure to have all the accessories to hand to help you easily cook and serve outside – good barbecue utensils, a large, sturdy tray and perhaps even drink and cutlery baskets. Wine coolers are also a must to avoid letting your bottle of wine go horribly warm in the sun.
Finally, to keep your garden watered and kids hosed down and cool invest in a good sprinkler or hose with an adjustable ‘gun’ – these are invaluable, so long as we avoid a hosepipe ban, to keep the garden looking good.