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How to upgrade your garden in time for summer


We don’t use paint enough in British gardens. It’s a wonderful way to make an area feel fresh for little effort. Expert Helen Elks-Smith sees a growing trend toward darker colours: “There is less and less demand for cool white limestone paving; it’s being replaced with an interest in darker paving. This is also reflected in paint colours picking up the richer palette of many interiors.”

Using their grey paint as a backdrop to plants can really make flower and foliage colours pop. Also, the Indigo modular corner sofa from bramblecrest.com echoes this move towards a darker palette outdoors.

25. Light up a tree 

On a stay in Los Angeles, I noticed that tree trunks and branches wrapped in low-cost LED fairy lights were creating a magical – if occasionally over-the-top – year-round feature. Festoon lights, plain bulbs on black wire (from coxandcox.co.uk) lend a relaxed summer look when strung across a pergola or between trees. 

26. Shades and sails 

It’s possible to spend a lot of money on retractable awnings for shade. A simple alternative is a shade sail from wayfair.co.uk, a triangular or square piece of waterproof material hooked above seating areas when required. Consider using two or three sails together to create a minimalist work of art rather than necessarily opting for one large sail.

Kate Gould, five-time Chelsea gold medal winner, says: “A fully automated and retractable awning is a great choice for creating shade – and you can remove it on darker, cooler days, allowing your house to retain as much light as possible. Modern awnings can be supplied with integrated lighting and heating. ”

27. Picnic in style 

Caroline Mann, of The Garden Centre Group, is fond of the kettle barbecues: “In various colours, and designed with portability in mind, these lightweight and compact barbecues are ideal for taking on family days out.”As I own one myself, I can confirm that it packs a lot of heat for its size.

28. Learn from other gardens 


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