For lazy afternoons in the sun and long evenings of conviviality, there is no better time to enjoy your garden than the summer months.
Make the most of the warm weather by creating a beautiful space to relax and be the envy of friends and family, whether with vibrant flower blankets or an awesome focal point.
We also have various guides on growing tulips, growing lavender, and more in our gardening tips section.
Want to create a beautiful garden before summer is in full swing? Transform your space from medium to stunning in no time with these quick and nifty ideas.
Easy summer garden ideas
These nine simple tips should be all the inspiration you need.
1. Think big
A tall shrub or tree can instantly make your garden calmer and more mature. Go for the biggest you can afford – reputable nurseries will offer a guarantee. If there is a wholesale nursery in your area, you may be able to get a good deal by purchasing a large shrub in full bloom.
2. Quick break
Do you need to mark a boundary or divide a long, thin garden into “rooms”? There are three quick fixes. You can set up small-square sections of trellis, draping them with fast-growing annual vines such as black-eyed Susan or Spanish beans. This can give you the chance to experiment with vivid colors – try the dazzling sky blue morning glory Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’.
Alternatively, plant a bulwark of Calamagrostis Ã acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, which will quickly grow to form a feathery screen that will withstand all winter, sparkling and rippling in the wind. The downside is that you will have to cut it back in February and wait for it to grow back.
You can also invest in a ready-made hedge. It’s not cheap: six 2m yew plants will set you back around Â£ 700 (although the faster growing bay leaf or privet is much cheaper.) But nothing will have a more immediate impact on the garden.
3. Add a structure
When planning a garden, start with the evergreens – these will be the backbone, creating structure throughout the year. Repeating the same plant, such as yew balls or columns, creates a pleasant setting for the more showy plants to strut about.
Conifers can be hot nails too – let’s not forget the glossy, plate-shaped leaves of Fatsia japonica, the gorgeous flowers of camellia, or the striking silver spears of Astelia chathamica. And they don’t even have to be green: extremely versatile pittosporums come in a range of gold and silver, creamy or purple shades.
4. Create a focal point
A strong feature will add impact and take the eye away from less perfect areas of your garden. A dramatically planted container works well – especially in a small garden – and the larger the container, the less often you will need to water it.
As an alternative, try to group your containers together, always remembering that less is more. If they are different sizes, or if you are using a variety of plants, make sure they are all made of the same material – colored resin or galvanized steel for a modern, urban look, or the patinated terracotta for a more traditional garden.
To make a bold statement, plant three identical containers with the same plants – you can change them up with the seasons. This is a trick often used in show gardens, and it also works well at home.
5. High life
Transform a dingy balcony or rooftop patio into a cheerful garden in the air, choosing plants like tomatoes and peppers that appreciate a warm, sunny location and won’t be too bothered by windy conditions. Try sweet cherry tomatoes like ‘Sungold’, ‘Sweet Aperitif’ or the trusty ‘Gardener’s Delight’ for a constant supply of fruit.
Juicy plum tomatoes are always worth a try, and there are many good varieties specially bred for hanging baskets, like the ‘Tumbler’ or the ‘Balconi Yellow’ with golden fruit, while the ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ vigorous and cascading make such a pretty spectacle that you can almost be persuaded not to snack. They’re really easy to grow – just put a plant in each basket, don’t forget to water it (ideally adding some tomato-based food) and that’s it.
Green beans, green beans, Swiss chard and spinach all give decent pot harvests; peas are best sown and harvested for their shoots. Rocket will do – just – in a shady corner, but the spinning jars of cut and remade salads will make the most of the space.
6. Instant meadow
Introducing the ultimate in labor-saving gardening: Now you can create a beautiful wildflower meadow as easily as rolling out a carpet. Instead of waiting to sow the seeds in the spring or fall, simply lay down a mat of biodegradable felt, sprinkled with seeds from about twenty different flowers. The felt acts as a barrier against competing weeds, especially rogue grasses, giving the flowers a head start.
Unfortunately, it is still necessary to prepare the ground: the easiest way is to weed where you want to lay your carpet, then to rake the dead vegetation, leaving a fine soil. Find wildflower rugs at turf.co.uk.
7. Color fast
Pelargoniums are an instant gardener’s best friend, swelling quickly to fill the garden with color all summer long. In a new garden, concentrate them in key locations to give a “whole garden” feel while the rest of your planting catches up. They are easy to find in garden centers, but a specialized nursery will offer a much more interesting range of colors and shapes.
Lord Bute is hard to beat for its sumptuous color, and don’t forget the fragrant leaf varieties, with aromas of cut grass or lemon, peppermint or cinnamon. Plant them in your kitchen planter. Discover the Fibrex nurseries.
8. Easy herb garden
Go to the supermarket and fill your basket with growing herbs. Then, instead of watching them wither, plant them in a planter. Nine times out of 10, they will thrive, even if you sometimes forget to water them.
Read our complete herb garden guide for more in-depth advice.
9. The stars of the screen
Hide the horrors with clever plantings. For a small area, a few bamboo pots will provide a quick screen – not too dense or limiting in light, but persistent and pleasing to the ear and the eye. And if you don’t need screening at a lower level, you can remove the leaves from the bottom to reveal the brightly colored stems of the bamboo.
Where space is limited, nothing is more beautiful than folded trees. You can buy them already formed in a variety of shapes – cubes or oblongs or very space-saving flat screens.
Although you usually need a building permit to build a fence over 2m high, there is no such restriction on deciduous trees, so you can effectively create a hedge on stilts, protecting your privacy while retaining valuable planting space below. Many trees can be grown this way, but hornbeam is a great choice – regardless of garden conditions and keeping its leaves well in winter.
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