Summer Garden Ideas: Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space
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Summer Garden Ideas: Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space

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When spring is well on its way, and summer is just around the corner – it is the perfect time to start spending more time outdoors.

You’ll no doubt want to take full advantage of your garden when the sun is shining, whether on your own or with friends and family. So you’ll need to make sure it’s looking its best.

There are lots of steps you can take to improve your garden, and while some of them involve major upgrades, others are small improvements that can make a big difference.

Whether you want to enjoy a peaceful afternoon outdoors on your own, or entertain guests throughout the summer months, let’s take a look at 12 of the best summer garden ideas to make the most out of your outdoor space.

1. Create Some Magic with Night Lights

Light bulbs hanging on a string in night

After dark, make your garden come to life by adding some night lights to create a magical atmosphere.

Start with some outdoor fairy lights. Hang them from branches and secure them safely or along the top of your garden wall to instantly create a dramatic effect. Not only are they incredibly easy to apply, but they are a cost-effective option too.

Another way to make your garden look more inviting after dark is to hang some lanterns. Hang them from branches on trees around the edge of your garden, or hang one over the table where you and your guests will eat.

A spotlight, perhaps on the central feature of your garden like a statue or a tree, can add some drama to the appearance of your garden after dark.

You could also illuminate the pathway winding through your garden using post lights. These will not only guide your guests through the dark garden, but they also look splendid.

2. Relax in Style with a Hammock

During the day, you’ll want to be able to relax and enjoy those warm summer afternoons – and there is no better way to do that than with a hammock.

Hammocks come in all shapes and sizes. Some consist of simple string designs, but you can also get luxurious larger hammocks that you can spread out on and add some cushions and blankets.

The only problem is where to put it. Between two trees in the shade is ideal, but you can make it more of a central feature of the patio if you prefer. Place a table next to it to hold your book and ice-cold drink, and you’ve got the perfect relaxing spot to while away those long summer days.

3. Create Your Own Secret Garden

If you have some space available, you might want to create your own secret garden. There are no rules about how to go about this – it could be a small corner of the garden or you could take up half the garden if you prefer.

After choosing your area, hide it away with a hedge, fence or privacy screens to turn it into your secret escape from the world.

Fill it with garden gnomes, flowers, lanterns, wind chimes and anything else that creates the magical feel of a secret garden.

Add a comfortable chair or bench so you have a place where you can sit and enjoy your garden. It could even be a good place to put your hammock.

A secret garden is the perfect place to escape on your own, but it also makes an interesting feature of the garden for visitors.

4. Put Up a Pergola

Wooden pergola in the garden with table and chairs

If you want some ideas for a summer garden party, a romantic pergola is a great starting point. A pergola makes a fantastic feature in any garden, whether you want one to admire yourself or you plan to host guests for summer drinks or tea parties.

You can grow plants over it or hang lanterns from it in the evening to create a unique feature on your patio or deck and impress your guests.

5. Get the Games Going

Summer garden ideas for kids often involve an element of fun. If you have children or grandchildren, or you will be inviting people over who have kids of their own, setting up some fun games is a great way to take advantage of your outdoor space.

Games are perfect for summer parties to keep everyone entertained, and there are many options:

  • Swingball is a classic that requires very little space.
  • Put up a net and you’ve instantly got a volleyball or badminton court.
  • Get a small Wendy house for the younger children to explore.
  • A trampoline will be popular with guests of any age.
  • Get a croquet set and enjoy playing a game on the lawn.

If you’re struggling to find garden ideas to keep children entertained in summer, start with these simple games and you will keep the kids happy for hours.

6. Cosy Up with an Outdoor Fire

The days may be warm during the summer, but once the sun sets, you and your guests can quickly start to feel the chill.

Having some comfortable blankets on hand is always a good idea, but an outdoor fire will be even more welcome.

Everyone likes a good fire. A warming fire will provide an instant focal point for you and anyone else you’re sharing your garden with. You can happily sit around the fire long into the night, mesmerised by the flames while keeping warm.

You could get a fire pit that you can place on your lawn or patio, which is a simple solution that doesn’t require any installation. Smoke can be a problem, however, especially if the wind can’t make up its mind about which direction to blow in.

Another option is a bioethanol fireplace. These are perfect for outdoor spaces like patios because they produce real flames but without producing any smoke or emissions. 

When used outdoors, the heat from a biofire is not as powerful as a chiminea or a log fire. However, these fireplaces are more aesthetically pleasing, and they save you the time and cost of getting a separate outdoor fireplace since you can easily take your indoor biofire outside.  

Just be careful to allow for the impact of any wind that could blow the real flame into anything flammable!

7. Add Some Interest with Water Features & Sculptures

Water features are a particularly good option for making your garden come to life. The addition of moving water to the garden can freshen it up, and the sound of flowing water is particularly soothing.

A pond is a large undertaking but well worth it. You can add some fish and then let nature take over, and you may find frogs and all sorts of insects making it their home, so there will always be something new to see.

Or get yourself a small water fountain or waterfall and simply listen to the water flowing as you relax.

Alternatively, add a few sculptures and statues. Some small sculptures carefully positioned around the garden can add interest and provide talking points as well as encourage people to take a closer look.

You could get a sundial, a garden Buddha, some animal statues or even gargoyles. Place them carefully where they can be seen, or perhaps hide them away to encourage exploration.

8. Get a Summer House

Small garden room in the backyard under the sun

A summer house is a big project, and it’s not something you can do on a budget over the weekend. But it could be just what your garden needs.

Garden rooms are more popular than ever. These days, you can get garden rooms of almost any size, complete with double-glazed windows, electricity, internet, plumbing and more.

You might want a small summer house in the corner of your garden to use as a reading room or a place to relax. Or you might prefer a large garden room that you can use as a place to entertain guests during the summer months.

If you will use it for entertaining, make sure you have a seating area outside so you can all enjoy being outdoors. Then you can retreat indoors when the temperature drops.

Get some comfy chairs, along with cushions and blankets, so everyone can stay warm after dark. You could even have a summer house complete with cooking facilities, or even a bar to enjoy a few drinks late into the night.

When you’re not using it for entertaining guests, turn it into an additional living space. It could be your new yoga studio, home office or anything else you want.

9. Go Overboard with Flowers

You can never have too many flowers in your garden, and summer is the best time of year to enjoy them in full bloom.

Your goal should be to wow guests from the moment they step into your garden with a fine display of colour filled with rich and inviting perfumes.

There are no rules when it comes to adding flowers, and there are many summer garden planting ideas to bring your garden to life:

  • Hanging baskets strategically around the garden.
  • Positioning large potted plants on the patio for a dramatic effect.
  • Creating a small flower bed filled with plants of all colours that bloom together in the summer months.
  • Setting up a few window boxes full of plants to overlook the garden and add some interest to the walls.

Alternatively, you might want to create your own herb garden. Guests will love the rich aroma of rosemary, thyme and parsley, and you can also use them in your cooking.

10. Encourage Birds and Insects

Red bird boxes mounted on a tree

A natural, living garden is one of the best ways to make your outside space more appealing. So attract birds to your garden by getting a bird feeder, bird bath and putting up a bird box.

You will be able to enjoy the sight and sounds of the birds when you’re on your own, and your guests will love watching them too.

You could also attract insects by putting up an insect hotel. This consists of a block made from long wooden tubes, in which bumble bees and other insects can make their homes.

11. Add Some Drama with a Vertical Garden

If you have a small garden, or you simply want to make use of an empty wall, a vertical garden will make an attractive feature in your outdoor space.

You can use the side of the wall to hang a selection of plants, flowers, herbs and even vegetables.

If you’re considering summer gardening ideas to keep you busy, this is a relatively easy way to turn a boring surface into a living wall, creating an interesting feature in your garden that can also keep you occupied for hours.

12. Paint Your Garden Bench

White garden bench amongst yellow flowers

Sometimes, the smallest details can make the biggest difference. If you have an old garden bench, consider giving it a revamp by painting it a bright colour. While natural wood is always attractive, a brighter colour may provide a more striking effect.

In fact, you could quickly give your garden a new lease of life by painting all your existing furniture.

Get Your Garden Ready with These Summer Garden Ideas

While many people tend to forget about their gardens during the cold and wet winter months, now that spring is here, it’s time to start planning to spend more time outdoors.

These are just a few summer garden ideas you can start thinking about to prepare for the warmer months. You may want to make a major change like building a summer house, or you might simply want to add a few additional features like ornaments and flowers.

Even small changes can make a big difference and make your garden a more pleasant place to spend time.

Take another look over the ideas above, and see if any stand out to you. Then get to work, and in just a few weeks, you could give your garden a new look so you can take advantage of the long summer days that are not too far away.