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How to get your garden ready for summer

While the weather is nice, spruce up your outdoor space with these tools, tips and ideas

Louise Whitbread
Friday 22 May 2020 15:00
Give your garden a revamp with tidy bushes, luxurious furniture, flowering blooms and colourful accessories
Give your garden a revamp with tidy bushes, luxurious furniture, flowering blooms and colourful accessories

As we reach the end of our ninth week in lockdown, the sun is shining and summer is well on its way.

While social distancing measures look to continue for the foreseeable, now is the best time to start sprucing up your garden in time for the hottest months of the year.

Especially as our bank holiday weekends are looking quieter than usual.

From outdoor furniture to decorative accessories and everything in between, we've curated a guide to getting your plants, patios and greenery in tip-top shape, so you can kick back and relax with a barbecue while catching a tan.

Find our ultimate BBQ guide here.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Finish off those DIY Jobs

DIY retailers including B&Q, Homebase and Wickes have reopened stores to help customers continue their house projects, you can find out which ones in your area are now open here.

One hefty piece of equipment that will make a noticeable difference to your garden is a pressure washer.

They are one of the most versatile garden power tools you can buy, enabling you to keep everything from your car to your patio and your garden furniture to your driveway looking spick and span.

You won’t damage more delicate surfaces (a common problem) thanks to the soft-bristled brush attachment on this pressure washer (The Independent)

In our IndyBest review of pressure washers, the Nilfisk C135 pressure washer with patio cleaner (Argos, £170) won our best buy. Coming with a 8m hose, hose storage hook, variable fan jet nozzle and power speed nozzle, it means anything from stonework and decking to patios will look like new once you’ve used it.

It is heavy but features a built-in trolley to help with manoeuvrability and it’s compact enough for easy storage.

Tackle unruly hedges and shrubbery with these Jakoti hand shears (Amazon, £35.99) which featured in our IndyBest guide to garden shears.

Our reviewer found that these were especially suited to "tackling small leafed bushes, such as box and privet."

The light, low tension action and ergonomic handles make them ideal for prolonged bush whacking duties and perfect for gardeners with a penchant for topiary.

Start planting flowers now

There’s plenty of online nurseries and garden shops to support during the lockdown, whose industry is seeing a huge impact at the height of the growing season. Buying plants and flowers online from big and small businesses alike is a small way customers can help.

Start curating your own little colourful garden as the weather warms up with fuchsias, petunias and pelargoniums.

Guy Barter, chief horticulturist for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) gave us some tips in our guide to doing up your garden during lockdown. He recommends growing coleus as it has pretty coloured leaves and you can then take cuttings of in late summer to have as indoor houseplants.

This pack of 200 coleus seeds (Dobies, £2.49) will see you through plenty of planting. They can be grown on a sunny patio and will add colourful shades of reds and greens to your garden.

Coleus plants have bright leaf colourings that will add a pop of colour onto your patio

Barter explains that lockdown shouldn’t have too much of an effect on their growth. “Given the times, it is worth remembering that most of these plants can be planted up to early June without much loss, so delays due to lockdown are not necessarily limiting.”

Grow your own vegetables

If you have a garden, a world of possibilities opens up and you’ll be in a position to grow root vegetables, leafy greens and marrows. And the added beauty of this is you can also create your colourful feast, once everything has sprouted.

Carrot seeds are inexpensive, such as these organic early nantes 2 (Thompson & Morgan, £2.29) which are ideal for successive sowings throughout the summer months. Each pack comes with an average of 1,000 seeds, so your fridge will be stocked for a long while.

These tomato "rainbow blend" F1 hybrid seeds (Thompson & Morgan, £3.69) are a colourful way to spruce up pasta, fish and meat dishes, side salads and starters. They will sprout a mix of red, yellow, pink and orange baby plum tomatoes.

Carrots, tomatoes and lettuce are just some of the many vegetables that will grow in a small garden with reasonable soil

If you’ve got a balcony, there’s plenty of vegetables to grow too.

This Chilli plants set (Studio, £12.99) is ideal for a gift for a novice gardener looking to spice up their kitchen. It comes with tabasco, demon red, Hungarian hot wax, jalapeno and anaheim chilli seeds, growing pots and compost discs made from coconut husk and wooden plant markers.

Don’t forget to look after your hands

Protect your hands from the mess and irritation that gardening can bring with a pair of gardening gloves. These are especially important as increased hand washing can leave skin feeling sensitive.

Try the Hexarmour thornarmour 3092 gardening and landscaping gloves (Safety Gloves, £36.27) which will stop you getting stung by prickly weeds or thorns but won’t allow any soil to get inside either.

Make sure you take care of your hands while working in the garden with a protective pair of gloves (The Independent)

Any dry hands will benefit from a nourishing hand cream. Try the Clarins hand and nail treatment cream (Clarins, £23) which topped our Indybest guide to hand creams, this will also help combat the harshness of hand sanitisers while in lockdown.

Update your space with garden furniture

Outdoor seating has evolved past rickety wooden chairs and tables. Many interior brands creating fun, sophisticated pieces to make spending time in your garden a stylish, but still comfortable, affair.

For those who have a balcony, try this Jaydon folding balcony table (Wayfair, £49.99) for alfresco dining in even the narrowest of places.

A folding balcony table means you can still enjoy your outdoor space, even if it is small and narrow

It sits two people and is made in a weatherproof, rattan-effect plastic which is easy to clean and has three different height settings. It even comes with two cup holders for your wine.

For larger gardens, this TiiPii 1.8m Nester hanging daybed (TiiPii, £369) is luxury lounging at its finest and left us impressed in our IndyBest review of the best garden furniture.

Kick back and relax in style with a cocktail in this hanging day bed (TiiPii)

It’s large enough to comfortably hold three to five adults (who says kids should have all the fun?), and feels perfectly secure and durable, despite weighing in at just 7kg.

Hang it from a weight-carrying branch, or team it with its own sturdy triangular frame, and you have an idyllic relaxation spot.

If you’re looking for a table and chairs, this Danetti Porto grey round 4 to 6 seater dining table (Danetti, £399.90) is a contemporary style that looks great whether teamed with similarly designed dining chairs in a contrasting colour, or centred within a curved outdoor sofa unit for the ultimate alfresco comfort.

An outdoor table and chairs set doesn't have to be uninteresting or clunky, instead, upgrade to a contemporary pastel-coloured style such as this one (Danetti)

Designed by Danetti’s creative in-house team, its geometric base is crafted from powder-coated aluminium tubing, making it surprisingly lightweight and easy to transport.

Cleverly, the tabletop is finished in frosted glass to prevent any reflections and glare from the sun. We wouldn’t want anything to spoil our patio lunch.

The finishing touches

Add pops of colour through soft furnishings and decorative accessories to brighten up your garden and bring it to life.

These colourful, earth-toned vases will add the perfect finishing touch to your garden in the summertime, no matter how big or small your space is

These Made essentials dorran set of 3 vases (Made, £16) in earthy shades of navy, mustard yellow and mint green are a chic way to display plants with longer stems. The robust natural stoneware means they’ll withstand windy or wet weather if we get any summer showers. They are out of stock currently, but you can get an email notification when they return.

A chic plant stand will not only keep your patio space tidy but allow you to bring big plants into your garden without them taking up as much room

If you have a garden but are limited on space, a plant stand such as this Jara terracotta planter with stand (Nkuku, £34.95) will allow you to still have your big potted plants without making the space feel crowded.

Read our guide to growing vegetables here, our roundup of the best house plants here and our guide to the online garden centres and nurseries to support during lockdown here

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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