Renovating your garden before summer comes around: 6 tips for last-minute projects

Renovating your garden before summer comes around: 6 tips for last-minute projects

Did you know that the two most popular months to start a garden project in the UK are March and April? Although the weather may still be cold and rainy, getting started with a major project after April doesn’t leave a lot of time before summer comes around! However, if you think that you’ve left it late for renovating your garden, but still want to turn your outside area into a space to be enjoyed during the sunny days ahead, you still have the chance to do so.

In this guide, we’ll look at a few quick but affecting projects to take on now and transform your garden into a private oasis before summer arrives.

Hire professional landscaping services

When time is tight, you may consider the benefits of hiring professional landscaping services. Companies like Open Space Concepts make available a wealth of knowledge and expertise and practical help to help you turn your garden around in no time.

They handle everything from design to execution, ensuring your outdoor space becomes a summer-ready oasis in the most efficient of ways. Plus, thanks to their expertise, you’ll be able to plant the best plants and trees for your needs and create nooks and features that reflect your preferences.

Incorporate raised garden beds

Raised garden beds provide a quick, effective way to enhance your garden’s look and functionality – and get your greenery started efficiently! These beds allow you to better control the soil and enjoy improved drainage. Plus, you’ll also have easier access to your greenery for planting and maintenance.

If you’re still working on your green fingers, opt for pre-made kits, which can be assembled in a few hours, fill them with high-quality soil and compost and choose easy-to-grow plants.

Add low-maintenance plants

Adding low-maintenance plants and trees is a great way to add lush greenery to your outdoor space while also maximising visual impact. Opt for hardy varieties that require minimal attention, such as ferns, hostas and sedum.

For trees, consider Japanese maple, crape myrtle or dogwood, which thrive with little upkeep. These species are resilient to varying conditions and add longer-lasting beauty to your garden.

Use quick-grow grass seed

If you’re pressed for time but still looking to grow a lush, green lawn, quick-grow grass seeds are your ally! Choose high-quality mixes that are designed for quick germination and lush growth. These seeds typically sprout within 7 to 14 days, giving your lawn a fresh, green appearance in no time.

For greater chances of success, prepare the soil by removing debris and tilling, which will ensure contact between the seeds and the soil. After planting the seeds, make sure to control variables such as water, humidity, frost and sunshine as closely as possible.

Install outdoor lighting

Adding outdoor lighting is one of the best ways to transform your garden’s ambiance in no time! Start with solar-powered or LED lights to minimise installation time and energy costs. You may also consider adding path lights along walkways, which improve your garden’s aesthetic appearance while enhancing your home security. Finally, lanterns and candles can add a magic touch to your outside space!

Create paths and corners

Creating defined paths and cosy corners are great ways to add liveable and enjoyable features to your garden without having to undergo a complete landscaping project. Just let your creativity run free and create a reading nook, garden bar or even fire pit. And, of course, make sure to use high-quality materials for a longer-lasting, easier-to-maintain garden!


Transform your outdoor space into a retro retreat

Transform your outdoor space into a retro retreat

Who says time travel isn’t possible? With a sprinkle of creativity and a dash of nostalgia, you can whisk your garden back a few decades and create a retro retreat that’s the envy of all your neighbours.

Forget about keeping up with the latest trends. It’s time to dive into the charm of yesteryear and transform your outdoor space into an attractive throwback haven where every corner whispers tales of the past.

Start with colour and pattern

First things first, let’s talk colour. Retro is all about bold shades and playful patterns. Think of the vibrant oranges, yellows and greens that dominated the 60s and 70s or the pastel hues that were all the rage in the 50s. Choose garden furniture with these colours, or give existing pieces a facelift with a lick of paint.

Don’t shy away from pattern, either. A chequered tablecloth or a floral patterned outdoor rug can instantly add a vintage vibe to your space.

Furniture: mix and match with flair

The heart of your retro retreat is the furniture. This isn’t the time for matching sets; it’s about mixing and matching pieces with character. Scour second-hand shops, antique stores and online marketplaces for those unique finds – a metal garden chair here, a wrought iron table there. And remember, a touch of rust or a few weathered edges only add to the charm.

For a stunning focal point, you can easily create your luxury garden with a metal pergola from Woodlark Garden Luxury. It’s a nod to the elegance of garden parties of yore and a perfect frame for hanging plants or string lights.

Lighting: soft and whimsical

When it comes to lighting, soft and whimsical is the way to go. Drape string lights around your pergola or along fences for a gentle, inviting glow. Vintage-style lanterns can also add to the atmosphere, casting interesting shadows and providing a warm light that’s perfect for those long, lazy evenings chatting with friends or lost in a good book.

Accessorise with a personal touch

Accessories are where you can really let your personality shine through. Think quirky garden gnomes, a brightly coloured bird bath or even a classic, pedal-powered bicycle leaning nonchalantly against a tree. Planters made from repurposed items like Belfast sinks or animal feeding troughs can also add a fun, eclectic touch.

And why not throw in a hammock or a swing seat? They’re not just great for adding a sense of relaxation, but also for invoking those nostalgic memories of carefree childhood days.

Create a vintage garden party corner

No retro retreat is complete without a designated area for hosting those vintage-themed garden parties. A classic wooden bar cart, stocked with all the essentials, can serve as the centrepiece. Add a few retro-inspired outdoor games – think croquet, badminton or ring toss – and you’ve got yourself the perfect setup for an afternoon of fun.

Don’t forget the greenery

Finally, let’s talk plants. Opt for varieties that were popular in the past, that boast those aforementioned retro colours, or which have a timeless appeal. Fragrant flowers like lavender, roses and jasmine can add a sensory layer to your garden, while a selection of herbs offers both practicality and a connection to the kitchen gardens of old.

Transforming your outdoor space into a retro retreat is about more than just decorating; it’s about creating an experience. It’s a chance to slow down, breathe in the nostalgia and create new memories in a setting that’s uniquely yours.

So, roll up your sleeves and let the retro revival begin!


Auction alert: Garden furniture & statuary

Late 20th century painted resin figure of a stag

Back when my parents owned an antique shop in Kemptown in Brighton, they’d go weekly to Watsons Auctions in Heathfield, East Sussex. Watsons, as well as Gorringe’s in Lewes, were my mum & dad’s main channels for acquiring fresh stock for their shop. I seem to remember Justin and me going a few times, too, when we lived down there.

With spring finally springing and lots of us itching to get outside and get our hands dirty, it’s a great time to highlight the upcoming garden furniture & statuary auction taking place at Watsons on Friday 3rd May, from 9:30am. There are 232 lots in the sale, to include plant pots and planters, troughs, water features, garden ornaments and much more besides.

Buy live or leave bids online at EasyLiveAuction or The Saleroom (fees apply).

Buyers Premium for our General Auction is 19% plus VAT making a total of 22.8% on the hammer price. Buyers Premium for our Online Collectables & Furniture Auctions and Specialist Auctions is 20% plus VAT making a total of 24% on the hammer price.

Late 20th century painted resin figure of a stag

Lot 1: Late 20th century painted resin figure of a stag

87.5cm tall
Estimate: £20 – £40

Iron black painted Warners, London well pump

Lot 35: Iron black painted Warners, London well pump

74cm tall
Estimate: £40 – £60

Approx. ninety small terracotta plant pots

Lot 43: Approx. ninety small terracotta plant pots

Approx 7cm tall each
Estimate: £50 – £70

Metal hose reel, two galvanised buckets and two watering cans

Lot 67: Metal hose reel, two galvanised buckets and two watering cans

Estimate: £20 – £30

Pair of tall square terracotta style plant pots, potted with roses

Lot 71: Pair of tall square terracotta style plant pots, potted with roses

37cm x 71cm tall
Estimate: £50 – £80

Pair of terracotta rhubarb forcers

Lot 105: Pair of terracotta rhubarb forcers

70cm tall
Estimate: £60 – £100

Painted boot scraper mounted on stone base

Lot 124: Painted boot scraper mounted on stone base

59cm wide
Estimate: £30 – £50

Metal Singer sewing machine base with marble top

Lot 130: Metal Singer sewing machine base with marble top

107cm wide x 74cm tall
Estimate: £30 – £50

Terracotta strawberry pot together with a terracotta orb and wall pocket

Lot 146: Terracotta strawberry pot

40cm dia x 40cm tall together with a terracotta orb and wall pocket
Estimate: £30 – £50

Metal scrolled arm garden bench

Lot 149: Metal scrolled arm garden bench

128cm x 89cm tall
Estimate: £20 – £40

Oval two tier wire work plant stand

Lot 169: Oval two tier wire work plant stand

70cm x 74cm tall
Estimate: £100 – £150

Set of four garden urns decorated with lion masks and swags

Lot 194: Set of four garden urns decorated with lion masks and swags

58cm dia x 73cm tall
Estimate: £400 – £600

Gazebos vs pergolas: What’s the difference?

Gazebos vs pergolas: What's the difference?

Gazebos and pergolas are two types of sheltered structures commonly found in gardens around the UK. But what’s the difference between them? Are they just two words for the same thing? This post compares the two; gazebos vs pergolas.

What’s a gazebo?

Gazebos can come in many different forms. Some are fixed structures that are built into the ground. Others are pop-up structures that can be easily moved or disassembled if need be.

What makes a gazebo a gazebo is the fact that it has a solid roof. This is designed primarily to provide shade in the summer. Gazebos can also provide shelter from the rain or direct sun, however usually fabric walls are needed to provide extra shelter from these elements.

Gazebos can be constructed out of various materials. Some are constructed entirely from wood. Others are made from metal with a wooden or tile roof. Others are more like tents and are made from metal or plastic with a fabric roof.

A marquee may be referred to as a gazebo in some cases, although generally marquees are for commercial pop-up purposes and always come with fabric walls to give them more of a tent-like appearance.

What’s a pergola?

Like gazebos, pergolas can come in many different forms. Some are attached to the ground, while others are freestanding. Pergolas can also take the form of awnings attached to walls.

Unlike gazebos, pergolas don’t have a permanent, solid roof. They instead have a wooden or metal latticed/slatted roof that offers partial shade from the sun. These slats can also be used to grow climbing plants around or wrap lighting around. You can also position fire pits or barbecues under them (depending on the slat materials and height).

Some pergolas have the option of closing slats or a full retractable roof. This can help to give them the full coverage of a gazebo. In some cases, retractable roofs may be made from clear, toughened glass to allow light through while providing shelter from rain. In other cases, the retractable roof may be opaque.

These opening slats and retractable roofs were, once upon a time, manually operated. However, in recent years, the motorised pergola has become a very popular option. These are activated by a button or switch. Some can even be controlled using a remote control pad or via an app on a smartphone.

Which is right for your home?

Gazebos are the better option if you’re looking for permanent shelter from the sun and rain. A pergola is the preferred choice if you still want to let some sun through, or if you like the idea of being able to adorn overhead slats with plants or lighting. Both can otherwise be attractive features and could add value to your home (if they’re permanent).

A basic pergola will usually cost less to buy and install than a basic gazebo because it’s the simpler structure. That said, if you want to buy a pergola with a retractable mechanised roof or slats, this will cost more than any gazebo. This is something to consider if you only have a modest budget.