How to get your garden guest-ready for summer 2021
As lockdown lift-off edges closer, and with the prospect of socialising in sight, now is the perfect time to clean and prep your garden for guests
The addition of a simple bistro table and chairs can be used for a morning coffee. Photograph: Getty Images
You’re not alone if you’ve spent a lot of lockdown in your garden. Our outdoor areas have become sanctuaries: We’ve embraced our lawns, yards, patios and balconies as places of refuge, safe spaces to escape, exercise, get some fresh air, connect with nature - and even grow our own food.
Now, as the end of lockdown edges closer, and with the prospect of being able to meet up again with friends al fresco, you might be considering how you’re going to prep your garden to host guests and entertain in socially distanced style.
From cleaning your patio and decking to refreshing your potted plant collection to sprucing up paths and paving, updating furniture and creating ambience with lighting, follow these simple steps and create a welcoming and relaxing outdoor space both you and your visitors can enjoy.
Clean and tidy
The first step to getting your garden ready for hosting again is likely to involve a clean-up, especially if winter hasn’t been kind to your plants or patio. Start off by doing some basic maintenance such as sweeping up leaves and litter as well as mowing and feeding the lawn and weeding.
Giving your garden a deep clean in the spring can really pay off in the long run
Patios and decking, and other outdoor surfaces can be transformed with simply a stiff brush and Jeyes Fluid Outdoor Cleaner. The British cleaning brand’s new, updated clear formula for use on hard surfaces including light coloured also works wonders on greenhouses, sheds, pet housing and drains. It can now also be used to tackle limescale and rust on outdoor furniture. Plus it kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus. Keeping Jeyes Ready-To-Use Multi-Purpose Cleaner handy is a great idea too. Its trigger spray makes wiping down tables and chairs a cinch.
“Giving your garden a deep clean in the spring can really pay off in the long run. Rather than seeing this as a big daunting task, Jeyes products help to keep effort to a minimum and great results to a maximum. Your outdoor space will feel refreshed and ready for action in no time,” says Charlotte Blampied, cleaning expert from Jeyes.
Plant and pot
What’s an outdoor space without plants and flowers, right? “Clever planting can attract birds and bees and elevate your garden into a multi-sensory experience,” says garden designer and horticulturalist, Claire Hawker of Garden Designs Dublin. “With a little forward planning it can be in bloom and sweet-scented all year round.”
Adding pots, planters and stands of different sizes and shapes will add height and interest
Hawker suggests planting heathers, “a wonderful, native plant”, for seasonal colour and low maintenance, and white flowers for night-time socialising as coloured flowers recede in the dark. She advises buying scented varieties of roses, lilac, jasmine and especially French lavender if you want the space to smell as good as it looks. Adding pots, planters and stands of different sizes and shapes will add height and interest, but you’ll need to think about where you’re going to position them – and remember to water them.
Get in the zone
“Creating different zones is an easy way to turn your garden into an interesting space for entertaining and relaxing,” says Dean Lacey of LandArt Design Studio. “It can improve your garden experience both aesthetically and practically.”
For kids, unused scrub at the bottom of the garden makes for a great den
Lacey recommends mapping out zones that track the sun and using paths to create “a physical and visual journey” through the space. Typically, the dining area is close to the kitchen for easy access, although if you like to entertain into the night consider a spot that gets the evening sun.
The west is good for a cosy chill-out zone while the addition of a simple bistro table and chairs can be used for a morning coffee. For kids, unused scrub at the bottom of the garden makes for a great den, planted with willow, a mini pond and simple rope swing.
Keeping your zones clean is easy too: Jeyes Patio and Decking Cleaner has a four-in-one action - with no scrubbing required - to remove algae, mould, mildew and dirt. Likewise, drain maintenance is simple with Jeyes Drain Unblocker. A drain cleaner and deodoriser, it works in minutes with minimal fuss.
Bring the indoors out
The key to entertaining al fresco is to make the space as cosy and comfortable as possible. “The garden is now seen as an extension of the home, so treat it as another room,” says Lacey. Rattan armchairs with upholstered seating, pouffes, a hammock or swing seat and a sleek L-shaped sofa around a coffee table are much more inviting than flimsy collapsibles. Just add outdoor-friendly cushions, layer with throws and an all-weather rug to make it party ready.
“For a real room feel accessorise with artwork, sculptures, mirrors – anything that adds personality and enhances the experience,” says Lacey. And don’t forget about heating. “Clip-on halogen heaters for under parasols, chimineas, firepits, bowls and infrared wall heaters will add extra ambience and keep guests warm when the sun goes down.”
Let there be light
“A well thought-out mixture of task and ambient lighting will help to maximise your garden’s features and make it a more attractive and inviting space to be in at night,” says Kevin Dennis, award-winning garden designer and owner of Cityscape Gardener. “When it comes to outdoor lighting there is no such thing as too much.”
Use uplighters to illuminate trees and highlight points of interest
For a festival feel Dennis suggests a chain of festoon lights along a fence or above a dining table. Create instant atmosphere by wrapping fairy lights around arches and hanging curtain lights along hedges. “Elsewhere, use uplighters to illuminate trees and highlight points of interest, add downlighters on walls and LED lighting under floating benches,” says Dennis.
For a cheaper fix, that doesn’t involve an electrician, cluster together jam jars filled with tea lights and candles on tables and light up pathways and steps with solar lanterns.
Sun’s out, shade’s in
Don't forget to provide shade for those really hot days as well as shelter from the rain. “It can be as simple as a large, height-adjustable parasol or gazebo. Or, if you’re thinking longer term, consider installing an aluminium pergola structure with rotatable, remote-controlled roof blades or investing in an outdoor room,” says Dennis. If you have an exposed garden, filter the wind without obscuring the views using trees, hedging, trellis and slatted fencing.
Focus on food
You’ll need kit too so you can cook food for guests outdoors. Thankfully, al fresco dining has come a long way from disposable charcoal barbecues. If you want to scale up your hosting skills and bring the restaurant experience home consider a pizza oven – last summer’s breakout hit – or better yet, an outdoor kitchen, replete with cupboards, worktops and a sink.
For resort vibes, incorporate an outdoor bar with a drinks fridge and wine cooler and add a sound system for maximum entertainment.
And should your barbeque need a little refresh ahead of this year’s festivities, Jeyes Barbecue and Oven Cleaner is ideal. A powerful two-phase formula eradicates fat, grease and traces of burns in minutes, meaning cleaning is quick and easy.