Keen to brighten up your garden after our somewhat dreary Auckland winter? Here we share our best garden ideas to help you create and maintain a successful summer garden.
First Things First
If you haven’t been out in the garden much over the wet winter, one of the first things to tackle is your outdoor furniture – yip, we’re talking about giving it a good clean! A scrub with warm water & sugar soap will get your furniture looking as good as new.
To clean your deck, brush the timber down with a soft broom to remove any dirt or leaves.
A high pressure cleaner will wash away any remaining dirt. Next up we suggest you use a deck clean product to thoroughly clean the area, before a final rinse off. Finally apply a stain or oil to protect it from the elements.
Pavers are simple; sprinkle a little bit of bicarbonate soda over the area and give it a brush, they’ll look as good as new. After cleaning, re-sand between the pavers with Paving Sand to help prevent movement.
Outdoor Furniture Ideas
Do you have enough seating to cater for all your friends & family this summer?
When choosing outdoor furniture remember the three ‘S’; structure, size & style. It always pays to think about the layout of your garden and how the furniture will fit into it – take into account the size of the space you have and the furniture you need.
Make sure that you have a generous flow between your home, doorways, pathways & furniture.
When choosing a table setting, think about the number of people you normally have over when you entertain.
Bench seats are a good way to get lots of people round a table without the clutter of lots of chairs.
Finally, don’t forget accessories to refresh your outdoor area and inject a touch of colour! Think cushions, rugs, throws and beanbags.
Festive Summer Lights
Lighting is an easy way to create ambience throughout your garden. Pretty tea lights add a soft twinkle, and look great when combined with some larger candle-lanterns for a layered look. Fairy lights hung across a deck will always look lovely, and one of my personal favourites is to wrap them around a feature tree, bringing that festive feel to your outdoor area.
Pimp Your Pots
Use pots around your deck & outdoor seating areas to bring colour and style to your summer garden. Remember “Thriller, Filler & Spiller” when choosing plants for your pot.
1. The ‘thriller’ is the main feature plant.
2. Choose a different type of plant to ‘fill’ the remaining space
3. Lastly add a ‘spiller’ to cascade down the side of the container
Choose plants that share colour or textural similarities to create a professional & stylish display.
Mulch, mulch, mulch
One of the challenges with summer is keeping your garden well-watered as the weather heats up. Mulching protects your plants from extremes in temperatures, keeps roots moist, suppresses weed growth and creates a tidy, well cared for look.
To save money on bagged mulch, try contacting a local arborist & see if they’ll deliver directly to your drive.
The ideal time to mulch is after it's rained well, to trap the moisture in the soil.
Wood/bark mulch is best for permanent plantings and perennials. Straw mulch is great for veges and annuals.
The very best time to water plants is in the early morning, while it is still cool. This will allow the water to run down into the soil and reach the roots of the plant without too much excess water lost to evaporation. Watering in the early morning will also make the water available to the plants throughout the day so that the plants will be able to deal better with the heat of the sun.
Sometimes, due to work and life schedules, it can be difficult to water the garden in the early morning. The second best time to water a garden is in the late afternoon or early evening. If you’re watering in late afternoon, the heat of the summer day should have mostly passed, but there should still be enough sun left to dry the plants a bit before night falls. Watering plants in the late afternoon or early evening also cuts down on evaporation and allows the plants several hours without sun to take up water into their system.
Summer watering tips:
Try to water the base of the plant: Using a hose from above increases humidity, which isn't always ideal as it encourages fungal disease, and can damage leaves in hot weather. Subtropical plants enjoy a little overhead watering but always remember to water at the start or end of the day.
If you’re on tank water or just want to keep your water bill down (great for the environment too!), take a bucket or basin into the shower to collect wastewater and use that on the garden.
The golden rule of watering: water well occasionally, rather than a little frequently. This will encourage plant roots deeper in search of water, and helps plants resist drying out.
Lawns are big water wasters. We suggest changing the blade height on your mower to allow more length on your grass, which protects the soil from drying out too quickly. An added bonus to longer grass? Broadleaf weeds, such as daisies, will eventually be shaded out.
Install some shade
Outdoor living in New Zealand can get really uncomfortable during hot summer days, unless you have some kind of shade to provide relief from the sun’s rays. Whether you go for something temporary or a permanent addition, a shade option is something every garden needs.
Pergolas are a great way to make your deck or courtyard look and feel like an outdoor room. You can plant climbers and vines (such as Wisteria or NZ native Tecomanthe speciose) to form a dappled shade overhead.
This North Shore client opted for a louvered roof system to create a clear, open space above their deck or covered protection when needed.
There you have it! Start on these little tasks now and by the time summer arrives, you’ll have an attractive & welcoming outdoor living area – all ready for summer BBQs & entertaining.