Alan Titchmarch recently demonstrated how sail shades can help transform an unattractive part of your garden into a modern, shaded sitting area.
Using one of Primrose’s Kookaburra sail shades, he turned a neglected corner of the garden into a lovely secluded area to relax and unwind. He put up the sail in less than an hour, with the help of the home-owner, demonstrating how quick and simple these things are to get set up.
You can catch up with Alan on his programme “Love Your Garden” through the ITV website HERE (only available until Aug 14), and if you just want to jump to the relevant bits, then skip to 11:10 to 15:05, and 18:40 to 19:30 to see this amazing product in action!
Well, after all that lovely hot weather we had in spring, the summer so far has been a bit disappointing! Sometimes hot, sometimes fresh, often humid – we’ve even had thunderstorms!
However, even though it hasn’t quite been the summer we might have hoped for, there’s still no reason why you shouldn’t continue to enjoy your garden. Whether the sun is shining intensely or the odd droplet of water is falling, if you still fancy some fresh air, what you really need is some shade or shelter to offer a bit of protection from the elements – and there are lots of options to choose from!
One of the most cost-effective options and also one of the most flexible are shade sails. These are waterproof canvases that also protect against UV rays that you can set up anywhere in your garden – all you have to do is attach each corner to a pole, post or tree, making sure it is at the correct angle and covering the required area. As soon as it’s up, you can start relaxing underneath its protection!
An alternative to a shade sail is to invest in an awning. These naturally attach to the wall of your home so don’t have quite as much flexibility as a sail shade which doesn’t have to be placed against your house. However, awnings are very robust and long-lasting, look great and are perfect for providing shelter over a patio area.
Of course, awnings and shade sails only provide overhead shelter. For a different look and more all-round shelter, you may like to consider a small garden house or a gazebo. Often made of wood such as willow or hazel, gazebos will naturally blend in to your garden while creating an attractive spot for relaxation. Large enough to hold some garden furniture such as a few garden chairs and a table, a gazebo can offer some respite from the hot sun as well as greater privacy than an awning or shade sail.
The main point to check, however, is whether the gazebo is waterproof. While the fabric used for awnings and shade sails is waterproof, some wooden gazebos may have small gaps between the woven wood which could allow rain water to pass through.
How typical! It is exactly at this time of year, when all we want to do is enjoy some time in the garden – planting, lounging and gorging on barbecues – that all those bugs and creepy crawlies seem to have the same idea and come out to spend some time in the garden with us or even try to steal a bit of bbq sauce!
Obviously, some bugs can be very beneficial to gardeners, for example without the hard work of bees, our flowers wouldn’t be pollinated; but if you are starting to feel a bit overrun with creepy crawlies, there are a variety of ways you can control their numbers.
Insects and other bugs form a large part of many birds’ diet. Therefore, as logic goes, increase the number of birds in your garden and the number of bugs will decrease. You can do several things to encourage birds back into your garden: get a birdbath to provide them with a ready source of water; bird houses offer welcome shelter; leave some seeds on a bird feeder and watch the birds flock to it!
Another way to dispose of these unwanted pests is to invest in a trap or insect killer. Bug zappers use UV light to attract flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects before killing them quickly when the unfortunate bug gets close enough. However, if this sounds too cruel and you prefer a more humane solution that doesn’t kill the critter, try using citronella. This scent is pleasant to humans but pungent to insects and will have them flying or crawling away as fast as possible! Handily, you can find candles infused with citronella so for a bargain price you can add a little atmosphere to your garden at the same time as keeping those creepy crawlies at a safe distance.
At last, the sun is shining! We’ve had a couple of weeks of wonderful weather already lately, which I have been thoroughly enjoying, as I hope you are. Now is the perfect time to get planting ready for summer and strawberries are a great investment of your time at the moment. Not only do you get the satisfaction from seeing them grow well, but once the berries are ripe, they are also delicious (particularly in a cheesecake!) This year we are growing our strawberries in one of these strawberry barrels, although we’ve also got some in a couple of hanging baskets. Fingers crossed they’ll be a success, we’ll let you know!
Of course, gardens are more than just a place to grow things, they’re also places to sit down, relax and enjoy the beauty around us. At this time of year, one of the best ways to enhance your garden’s natural charm is by taking advantage of solar power. Many garden features and decorations can be powered by the sun and this has a lot of knock-on benefits, for example lower costs as solar energy is free unlike electricity. Solar products can also be placed anywhere outside (as long as the panel is in the sun) whereas mains powered products need to be placed near the house to be connected to the electricity.
Solar lights are one of the most attractive and varied solar garden products available. Some, like the colourful butterflies in the picture, are very pretty and unusual, but if you prefer something a little less extravagant, this set of four lamps is classy and also ideal for lighting up a path or patio area. From table lights to light strings with 50 LEDS, there is such variety available that there will be something for anyone’s taste.
Solar doesn’t just stop with lighting, however. Many water features come with a solar option, but if you already have a water feature that runs off the mains, you can still save some money (and the environment!) by turning it solar with a solar pump kit.
In addition to decorative items, energy from the sun can also be used to run more practical items. An outdoor clock is perfect when you need to keep an eye on how much time you’ve spent in the garden, but solar clocks that absorb the sun’s rays can often provide an extra power supply for LEDs on the clock, so it can still be used on balmy nights when the sun has gone down. Even pest control devices which chase away those pesky cats or moles can be powered entirely by solar energy!
So versatile, so eco-friendly, so cost-effective – have you tried solar yet?