Preparing Your Garden For Autumn

As the summer season draws to a close your garden maintenance needs to step up a gear. Why? Because the preparation of your garden in the autumn will ensure you have a stunning garden come Spring. A lot of green-fingered beginners don’t tend to their gardens during the autumn/winter months as they deem it unnecessary, but we’re here to tell you exactly why you need to keep digging during the autumn. 

Stay on top of your lawn

You must keep on top of trimming your lawn, as if it's left uncut,  it’ll be near impossible to cut throughout the winter. 

Autumn clean up

Having an autumn clear up will keep your garden looking fresh during the autumn and winter season. Cut back any overgrown plants, clean out the shed and give your decking a once over. These are all super simple tasks for you to do, and the end result is a garden that doesn’t need hours of work on when the Spring arrives. 

Cover up your garden furniture

Protecting your garden furniture is an absolute must as we move from autumn and into winter. Furniture covers are easy to find online, but they’re not always the best quality. Here at Rattan Direct, we’re really proud of the furniture covers that we provide, so take a look and find one that will fit your furniture. 

Tidy leaves and borders

Trimming the borders of your grass will leave it looking sharp for the return of the winter. Dig out any soil that needs replacing (check out our next step for more on that) and a simple tidy up will keep your borders looking fresh. Removing leaves can be a little bit of a hassle, especially if your garden is surrounded by trees, as it can end up becoming a daily chore. 

Use the year's compost around the borders you’ve just cleaned up

With the soil that you’ve cleared out of the borders, we suggest you replace it with the compost that you have gathered in your bin throughout the year. Spread an even amount across your borders and you’ll have a fresh look around the outside of your garden.

Bring your herbs indoors

Herbs will struggle to last outdoors in the winter, so before it becomes a little too cold, bring them indoors. We suggest placing your potted herbs next to a window or door that gets sufficient sunlight, and somewhere that doesn’t get too cold. 

Cover up your garden pond

If you’re lucky enough to own a garden pond then you need to look after it during the autumn and winter. Covering your pond with netting will save you so much time when it comes to clearing out leaves or general garden debris. 

Clean and store your garden tools

Last but by no means least you should clean up all of your gardening equipment. Once you have finished using all of your tools you should make sure they’re fresh and ready to go again for the next year, as you probably won’t be needing your gardening tools during the winter period. 

Now you know what to do to prepare your garden for autumn, you’ll have an outdoor space that will look neat and tidy when it's not getting much use. And you’ll be well on the way to having a garden that is ready for the start of Spring. 

Getting Your Garden Party-Ready

How to get your garden party-ready

  1. Add lighting to bring ambience
  2. BBQs are a must
  3. Find the perfect garden dining/sofa set
  4. Plant flowers or herbs to give your garden a brighter look

You don’t have to be an expert to make some amazing changes to your outdoor space. And with a few simple tips, you can create a garden that’s perfect for entertaining. You’ll need to consider what it is you’re wanting from your garden. Whether it's going to be a regular space for outdoor entertaining, or will it have a more relaxed feel, for everyday al fresco dining? Whatever you choose, you’re going to need a plan to get your garden party-ready.

You might be blessed with a large outdoor space, but having a smaller area doesn’t mean you can’t create an entertainment hub in your garden. With our garden transformation ideas, you’ll have a space that’s party-ready without breaking the bank.

Lighting

If you’re wanting your garden party to be a hit then it’ll need to go on into the evening. This means you’ll have to make sure your outdoor space is lit up when the sun goes down.

Lighting doesn’t just prolong your evening it also creates ambience and gives your garden party a different feel. We’d recommend using solar-powered fairy lights, which can be hung along your fencing or up in trees. These types of lights will bring a magical feel to your outdoor party.

If fairy lights around your garden aren’t for you, then go for a classic light candle. Most people will have candles lying around their homes, so go and find some in yours and place them outdoors for a simplistic but very effective lighting tip.

Cook outdoors

Is a garden party really a garden party without outdoor cooking? Outdoor BBQs will get all of your senses tingling from the smoky smell of the cooking food, to the sounds of the sizzling burgers. BBQs are a must when you’re entertaining outdoors, and there's so many to choose from you can spend as little as £5 on a disposable BBQ to as much as £1000 on a state of the art one.

Flip your burgers and serve up treats whether it's for your whole family or for a special date night outdoors for you and yours.

If food isn’t on the menu but drinks are, why don’t you take a look at our Top 10 DIY garden bars blog? This post gives you loads of inspiration so you can create a bar in your back garden. You really have to be asking yourself, is a garden party worth having if there isn’t a bar involved? We think not, so take a look and grab some ideas.

Seating Arrangement

We like to see ourselves as experts of outdoor seating (well, it is what we do) so, we think we’ve got some of the best options for you to choose from. We thought we’d pick out three options for you, all of which are suitable depending on what it is you’re using your garden for.

Let’s start off with this classic Ascot 3-seater sofa set in grey. This set is the ultimate for relaxed outdoor entertaining, as it features a large sofa and two single armchairs, so it's perfect if you’re inviting friends or family over for a weekend catch-up.

If you’ve got a smaller space then maybe this 2-seater Riviera dining set will be your choice. You can picture yourself here with your partner tucking into an evening meal, with those fairy lights we suggested lighting up your evening. It's got a special feel to it.

If you’re wanting a set that mixes dining and relaxation then you’ll love our casual dining collection. This entire range features sets that couple sofa sets and al fresco dining to give a relaxed outdoor entertainment space.

Plants/Flowers

Before you host your outdoor party you should grab yourself some new flowers or plants to give your garden a splash of colour.

It doesn’t have to just be bright flowers that you plant in your room, it can also be herbs or vegetables. Herbs like lavender or rosemary are an easy plant to look after, and not only do they look great they also smell amazing and you’ll be able to smell them in your garden.

Now you’ve got the lights, seating, cooking arrangements and the plants all sorted, the only thing left to do is party!

Make your own outdoor movie night

How to make an outdoor movie night

 

  1. Find the best location in your garden
  2. Buy a projector
  3. Create the perfect seating arrangement
  4. Decorate your garden
  5. Drinks and snacks are a must
  6. Pick your movie

Ditch your usual movie night on the couch and watch your favourite blockbusters out in your back garden, with a super simple movie night set-up. Grab your favourite movie night treats, invite your friends, sit back and enjoy your movie of choice. In this blog post, we’re going to give you all of our suggestions so you can create the perfect movie night, with decorating tips, seating arrangements and our choice of projector and screens. 

Find your location

Back gardens come in all shapes and sizes, so we get that you might not have loads of room in your outdoor space. If you have tonnes of space in your garden, then try and find an area where there are trees so you can tie up your screen with ease. If you’re lacking in space you don’t need to worry

Make your set up 

You can go one of two ways with creating the set-up for your outdoor home cinema, and it all depends on your total budget. Check out our movie night on a budget ideas below so you can create an outdoor cinema experience without breaking the bank. You can find projectors for around £30, and although this will cost a little more than the cinema, after hosting just 2 or 3 movie nights you'll already have saved money, so it's worth the investment. In terms of a screen for your outdoor cinema, you can find these on Amazon for as little as £5, check out this one we found. 

Movie night on a budget

There's certainly nothing wrong with making your cinema night with things you already have around your house. Take a look at the list below for some ideas on how to make your movie night on a budget.

  • Use a bed sheet as your cinema screen
  • Find a cheap projector like this on Amazon
  • Use bean bags, pillows, rugs and duvets to make your garden as comfortable as possible

Seating

As we mentioned above, you can create an outdoor movie set up with things you already have at home, including bean bags and duvets. But, if you want to create something like this…

Then you’ll have to grab one of our Ascot 3-seater sofa sets. We might be a little biased, but these will take your movie night to the next level. With space for up to 5 people to sit and footstools for you to properly lounge out on, these sets are a must buy. 

Decorating your garden

Glow in the dark lanterns and sticks will give your garden an even cooler look as you and your friends sit back ready to enjoy your film. Or if you’re on a budget, use some candles from your house and place them on our coffee table. 

Drinks and snacks

We’ve all got our go-to’s, whether it's a classic choice of popcorn or a bag of chocolate that you just can’t wait to tuck into. Your choice of drinks and snacks is what really brings a movie night together. We suggest buying a range of your favourites and putting them in bowls on our tempered glass coffee table. Tuck in and try not to eat them all before your movie starts!

Pick your favourite movie

Now you’ve turned your garden into the ultimate outdoor movie night experience, it's time to pick your film of choice. I’m sure we’ve all been there before, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a movie that tickles your fancy, and eventually, you pick something you’ve seen so many times you could quote the entire film. So, instead of doing that, why don’t you make picking a movie a little more exciting with this movie picker which will save those predictable family arguments. Print your movie night picker at home and then simply follow the instructions. 

How to create a summer music festival at home

In 2020 music festivals in the UK were cancelled, and in 2021 music festivals are slowly coming back. Plenty of festivals are sadly still cancelled, and the tickets you had for events might not be of any use. So, we thought we’d put together a plan for you to host your own music festival at home. We take a look at music, food, drinks and decorations so you can create a super-cool music festival in your garden, with our festival party ideas.

Music

Festivals are all about the music, it's the reason we travel up and down the country, with our bags full of beer, baby wipes and wellington boots. And if you’re hosting a mini-festival in your garden you can go to town on creating a brilliant playlist for your garden festival. You can create your dream playlist, with your very own headliners, listen to this through your own speaker or share AirPods and have your own silent disco at home, Get your guests to create their own playlists, so they can feel a part of the day. 

Food

We all love a bit of festival food, and you can get some really tasty dishes when you’re at UK music festivals. There are so many options that the 2-3 days that you would usually spend at a festival isn’t long enough to sample all of the culinary delights on offer. The beauty of creating your own music festival at home is that you can make food for those picky eaters, while you can create some fabulous for yourself! We suggest a buffet or barbeque as these can be full of tasty dishes, while also being exciting for your little ones to tuck in. 

Festival Drinks

Booze, booze and more booze! It's what gets you through music festivals, especially if it's raining. The one thing you won’t want to be doing )especially if you have lots of guests) is constantly serving up drinks. It can become tedious, so create a “self-serve” area that allows for your guests to tuck in whenever they please. To create a self-serve area you can either leave drinks on a table for your guests to use, or you can create a ‘bucket’ drink that makes the self serve option a little more fun. Poor your favourite cocktails and all the ingredients into a large bowl or if you want to go mad a large plastic container. Fill it with decorative fruits and top it up with ice to keep cool. Your guests can then dunk their glasses inside and serve themselves a stunning cocktail of your choice.

Music Festival Decorations/Styling

You want to create a real festival feel, and with our home festival ideas, you’ll be able to do just that! The list below has everything you’ll need and why you need them because without them your festival party won’t be perfect.

Festival party ideas:

  • Chairs - You’ll be dancing for hours on end, so you might want to take a quick 5 minutes to sit down. 
  • Gazebo/shelter - We do live in the UK so there is no guarantee that the weather will be perfect, and even if it is a little bit of shade will be needed.
  • Lights - This might be strobe lights so you have the full festival vibes, or fairy lights so when it starts to get a little darker you can create a cool atmosphere. 
  • Glow sticks - Is it really a festival without them? 
  • Tipi - Grab yourself a tipi like the one below, for a fun place for your kids to play as you dance the night away. 
  • Speaker - How could we forget? This is a necessity so you can blast your music.
  • Glitter - Go wild a glitter you and your friend's faces.
  • Camera - If you’re wanting to get snaps of those glittery faces you’ll need a camera, grab yourself a disposable one for some authentic pics. 
  • Tent - If you want to go all of for your music festival you and your guests can camp outside (you can always sneak back in if it gets too cold)

 

 

Simple Garden Picnic Ideas

Make the most of the summer holidays by creating your very own picnic in your garden. Nothing quite beats a good old-fashioned picnic, and doing it at home means you can do so on a budget

You can use our budget picnic ideas yourself whether it's for some family fun or a romantic date. Picnics are always a fun activity, so instead of being stuck inside when the weather is glorious, why don’t you create a cute picnic in your garden?

Where can I have a picnic?

The beauty of a picnic is that they can be had literally anywhere. With a small bit of prep working, you can have yourself a delicious picnic in virtually any setting. 

  • In your garden
  • A park
  • On a walking trail
  • In a woods
  • On a beach

These are just a few of our favourite options but there are so many for you to choose from the list is simply endless. 

Having a picnic in your garden is a really easy way of entertaining your kids during the summer holidays. We love the idea of you recreating the scene below in your own back garden. Using one of our Ascot coffee tables your little ones can sit on the footstools and tuck into the treats that you’ve made for them. Recreate this picnic in your garden with our 3-seat Ascot set in Chocolate and Cream.

Using our rattan garden furniture you can recreate a stunning picnic in your garden. A picnic in your garden at home is really easy, and if you happen to forget something, you can quickly nip back inside. 

What do I need for my picnic?

Now that you know where you want to have your picnic you need to pick up some essentials (unless you already have them) to make the experience even more enjoyable. It doesn’t matter whether it’ll be romantic or a family activity, you will most likely need the following items.

9 Picnic Essentials

  1. A blanket - Are picnics even a thing if they don’t have a blanket? This is essential and should be the first on your list if you don’t have one.
  2. A basket - Bringing a basket is another must-have as they allow you to carry all of your food and drinks. 
  3. Coolbox - If you have food then needs to be kept cold then a cool box is the answer. This will keep drinks or snacks cold so they stay fresher for longer. 
  4. Cutlery - Another important addition and something you’ll definitely have at home. 
  5. Plastic or paper cups - These are an easy thing to forget about, but they can be a necessity especially if you’re thinking of bringing big bottles of pop or alcohol.
  6. Camping chairs - If you’re not wanting to sit directly on your blanket then investing in a set of camping chairs is a top priority. 
  7. Paper towels - Another must, especially if you have little ones with you.
  8. Binbag - Once you clear up it's essential to take all of your rubbish with you.
  9. Paper plates - Nobody wants to wash up after a picnic, so bring paper plates to make tidying away much easier.

Picnic Food Ideas

Food is the number one priority! Deciding on the style or type of food will make your picnic more enjoyable. 

Your budget will also come into making a decision around your picnic food ideas, so we have created a cheap picnic ideas list that will allow you to create a picnic on a budget. 

10 Cheap picnic ideas

  1. Potato Salad - Super easy to make a potato salad. Boil your potatoes, and then wait for them to cool, give them a light coating of mayonnaise and then add in herbs and spices. Chunks of bacon work a treat for a different texture.
  2. Hot dogs - A firm favourite for your kids, and you can cook your hot dogs fresh at home and take them with you (this is even easier if you have your picnic at home), buy some buns to go with it and pack your favourite condiments.
  3. Sandwiches - These are an obvious choice, they’re super easy to make and you can put in whatever you like. They’re also easy for kids who are super fussy. 
  4. Fruit - Again, it's really easy to pick up some of your favourite fruits from your local supermarket. You can make these more enjoyable by cutting them into fun shapes for your children. 
  5. Crips and dips - If you’re not wanting loads of food or you want a quick and easy side dish then crisps and dips are easy. You can buy both from a supermarket or make your own dips like garlic mayo or salsa. 
  6. Jelly and cream - You’ll need your cool box for this and to prep the day before. Jelly is really cheap and is sure to put a smile on your children's faces.
  7. Wraps or pittas - Make a typical white bread sandwich more enjoyable with wraps or pitta bread. You can buy both from your local supermarket and they are usually cheap.
  8. Roasted chicken - Pick up a whole chicken from a supermarket and cover it with your favourite herbs and spices. Once it's ready, take it out of the oven and cut it up ready for your picnic. 
  9. Pasta salad - Make this the night before and pack it with veg, meat and your favourite herbs and spices. Put the pasta salad in Tupperware boxes and place them in your cool box so they taste fresh when you tuck in. 
  10. Cookies For a sweet dessert you can eat some pre-baked cookies, the perfect way to round off your BBQ. 

If these ideas don’t quite do it for you, then why don’t you check out our picnic loaf recipes?

How do you make a picnic fun?

So, you've got all of your food prepped and you know where you'll be tucking into it. Now the final thing you need to plan is your picnic entertainment ideas. There are so many options for you to choose from when it comes to creating fun games at your picnic, so we've made a shortlist to make your decision a little easier. From classic family games to games you can play as adults!

5 Picnic Games

  1. Sack races - These are an absolute classic and you can even get your kids to decorate their sacks before your picnic.
  2. Bean bag toss - Write numbers on your paper plates and through a bean bag, aim to get the highest score!
  3. Twister - This game is fun for all the family, if you don't have kids you can turn this into a drinking game!
  4. Beer (or juice) pong - Depending on who's playing bring some ping pong balls and use your cups to play a game of beer pong.
  5. Board games - Just because you're outside doesn't mean you can't bring some of your favourite board games out with you and play them.

Now you're fully set up to have your own picnic at home with these ideas you can create a fun picnic on a budget.

Wind Proofing Your Garden

A toppled over bin, an outdoor dining table upside down and a parasol shoved into the fence at the bottom of your garden. Does this sound like a regular occurrence in your back garden? If so, then your garden could do with some garden wind protection. For most of us, a windy night will give us minimal fuss, but there are those of us here in the UK who struggle to protect our outdoor spaces. There are loads of easy-to-follow steps you can take to ensure your outdoor space is wind protected. From wind-resistant plants to prepping your garden before a storm, we’ve got lots of great tips. 

What types of gardens are most at risk?

It is unsurprising that coastal towns and cities in the UK will experience more windy weather conditions than that inland. Coastal gardens can expect to Another type of outdoor space that is at risk of strong winds are gardens on balconies. Both of these types of outdoor spaces need to be treated differently to those who experience less wind. 

How can make my garden wind-proof?

Like most things in life, failing to prepare will prepare you to fail, and preparing your outdoor space is no different. That is why a garden wind protection plan needs to be thoughtfully created to ensure your plants, trees and garden furniture are all well-protected. You can do this by pre-planning your garden design or using your know-how and experience of living in a windy garden to plant the right plants for your space. It is a little more tricky to windproof a balcony, but there are certain things on the market that you can find. Check out this balcony which features glass panels that will help prevent dangerous winds. 

How to stop wind in the garden?

You may think that purchasing fencing or building a wall will break up the wind, and prevent it from damaging your garden. However, what will happen is that the wind will hit the wall or fence and then create turbulence on the other side. We recommend that you use hedging or wind-resistant shrubs to prevent the wind from damaging your garden. It’s fair to say that when adding a hedge or shrub the thicker the hedge the better. If these two options aren’t possible for you to add, then blocks of plants will help minimise the effect of wind on your garden. 

What plants will block out wind?

Winds and breezes are obvious things to consider if your garden is by the sea, high up a hill, or you have an exposed balcony. Many gardens and patios are affected by winds and breezes too, perhaps where winds are channelled by neighbouring buildings. Choose wind tolerant plants that are happy (and look good) in winds and breezes and make the most of your gardening time and energy. 

The Best Plants For A Windy Garden:

  1. Eupatoriums
  2. Geranium 
  3. Miscanthus 'Kleine Silberspinne'
  4. Stipa tenuissima
  5. Evergreen Brachyglottis

Alys Fowler suggests planting a sturdy eupatorium at the back of a border to protect smaller plants at the front. Read her other suggestions in this article, ‘Tough plants for windy plots.’

Low growing geraniums are a favourite of ours: the toughest around seems to be Geranium macrorrhizum (various varieties). As it is evergreen and good in the shade it’s a good all-rounder for any plot.

Japanese anemones fluttering in winds and breezes look delicate but are tough. I have grown them on both dry and damp soils to good effect. In a very windy area, they may need staking until established. Read more about this lovely plant in our earlier blog.

winds and breezes

The narrow silvery leaves of Miscanthus 'Kleine Silberspinne' turn yellow in autumn. Fluttering in winds and breezes, the summer flowers almost sparkle, starting red and turning to silver.

Stipa tenuissima is perfect for a windy spot. The movement of its elegant leaves and flower heads is pretty and relaxing to watch.

Trees and shrubs for winds and breezes

Evergreen brachyglottis is a small shrub with rounded, hairy, grey-green leaves and yellow daisy-like flowers in summer that tolerates dry soil, winds and breezes and even salty seaside spots.

Escallonia (many varieties) is the shrub of many seaside towns. Small, shiny evergreen leaves and bright flowers for months on end make this plant a delight. It is not keen on very damp soils and although it copes well with salty winds, it doesn’t do its best in cold wet winds.

winds and breezes

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a tough tree or hedging plant that withstands most of what the UK climate can throw at it. White spring flowers are delicate and the red berries that follow in autumn attract wildlife and add a splash of colour to your view.

Manage winds and breezes to make the most of your plants

How to plant in a wind-prone garden

Planting: winds will loosen the roots of young plants and may break fragile stems or burn leaves. A temporary barrier of garden mesh or purpose-made garden polythene (the one with holes in it) can give them a good start.

Sheltering: some sort of  ‘shelter belt’ between your plants and the prevailing wind will help a new garden and protect special plants. In a big plot plant a belt of trees and sizeable shrubs to break up the wind. In borders, wind tolerant plants can do the same job. On balconies and patios, take the same approach on a smaller scale or add a purpose-built barrier such as a willow or bamboo screen.

Staking: if in doubt, stake a young plant with purpose-made plant support or a homemade circle of sturdy twigs or canes at the height of the plant. Chosen well, established plants shouldn’t need staking, but, in a windy garden, you can circle plants with twigs. (New growth quickly hides the twigs.)

How to water in a wind-prone garden?

Wind tends to dry out leaves and soil, so take care to ensure the watering needs of the plants you choose are met. Plants that like dry soils, and plants with leathery leaves usually don’t need much attention in winds and breezes, but if you see scorching on your leaves, either move the plant or keep on top of the watering.

15 Small City Garden Ideas

Small City Garden Ideas

Living within the hustle and bustle of a city centre in the UK can be stressful, so getting much-needed time outdoors is a must. Not only is it a must to get your time outdoors, but it’s also better for you if it’s done so in your own private garden. An inner-city garden can often be small, overlooked and not utilised, so that’s why we’re here to give you tips on utilising your small city garden. 

Our 5 Best Small City Garden Ideas:

  1. Find the right furniture
  2. Get creative with storage space
  3. Use trees and plants for privacy
  4. Maximise the space - utilise every inch
  5. Raised flower beds 

Small Garden Furniture Ideas

Check out some of our small garden furniture ideas, where we look at all your possible options so you can create a stunning garden. Small yards are often filled with furniture that is too big for space, so apply the tips below to ensure you don’t take up too much room and maximise the space in your garden. 

1. Dining furniture for your small urban garden

Picking the right piece of furniture for your space is key to ensure you don’t overload the space with too much furniture. Measure your space then look at the measurements of the furniture you desire. You want furniture that doesn’t take up too much room when it is not in use. 

2. Use furniture that doubles up as raised flower beds

Check out this thoughtfully crafted seat which features two planting areas. Using furniture that doubles up as either extra storage or something like this with the planting space is a really simple way of making the most of the space available to you. 

3. Cantilever Parasol

Use a cantilever parasol to block the sun and bring additional privacy to your outside space. A cantilever parasol ensures you stay protected when the summer sun becomes too much. These parasols will also save space, as it hangs over you when you dine al fresco. 

4. Modular furniture to save space

Furniture that can be moved, changed shape and size ensures your garden can adapt for how many guests come around for summer barbeques. Modular furniture from Rattan Direct is also super-comfy, so grab yours today. 

5. Utilise every space

Using every inch of space can sometimes be risky. You don’t want your small backyard to be full of clutter, so why don’t you take some inspiration from the picture below and find the right balance of utilising space without cluttering it.

Small City Garden Ideas Using Plants 

Plants are a great way to add colour and privacy to your outdoor space. Having the right plants coupled with some innovative ideas, you can make your small outdoor space work for you. 

6. Hanging baskets for small city gardens

Bring bold colours and a stunning feature wall with hanging baskets. This style of basket will attract bees and other wildlife. Any type of outdoor space can draw in bugs and wildlife, it doesn’t have to be a large space. Find colourful flowers to plant in hanging baskets for a beautiful look in your garden.

7. Plant Pots

Using plant pots for your garden ensures space is saved. You can decorate your entire outdoor space with plants in plant pots as they can be personalised with unique plant pots - go for bold looking flowers to add a statement.

8. Add plants to the wall

Attach wooden flower beds to the wall in your garden, not only does this bring a natural look, but it also saves space for furniture on the floor. Use plants that are easy to maintain, so you don’t need to look after them 24/7. If you lack wall space then add a raised flower bed - it was the same effect!

9. Storage In Small Garden

Adding storage to your garden allows you to hide away furniture when it is not in use. You should opt for storage spaces that double up as other pieces of furniture, like a chair with space beneath for you to store gardening essentials. Our small garden storage tips below should give you some inspo. 

How to maximise sunlight in your small city garden

  • Paint your brick walls white, this will reflect the sun.
  • Add flowers that are light in colour, so when day turns to night, they’ll stand out.
  • Purchase an outdoor mirror.
  • Create a stunning water feature, this will also reflect the light into your garden. 

10. Painting your walls white in your urban garden

Add a lick of paint to the walls in your garden, is a cheap and easy DIY technique you can use to bring in more light to your backyard. Paint the walls of your house or the walls that separate your garden from your neighbours, to bring in more light to your small space. 

11. Light coloured flowers

We’ve talked about how adding plants to your garden can bring colourful pops, and how you can use plants on the walls of your yard. But are there any plants that you can use that will maximise the light in your garden? Well, put simply, yes. You can add variegated foliage to your garden, we suggest Euonymus which is edged with white and palace pink. This type of foliage can even be added to fencing and is sure to maximise light. 

Pulmonaria officianalis 'Opal'. pulmonarias

12. Outdoor mirrors

Place an outdoor mirror within the foliage of your garden, which brings a unique look to your outdoor space, whilst maximising the light in your garden. You can find a range of outdoor mirrors online, with loads to choose from you can create a stylish look in your garden. 

13. Stunning water feature for small garden

Not only will a water feature in a back garden reflect light, but it’ll also bring a relaxing feel - ideal if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Water features come in all shapes and sizes, so they are available for small gardens - feast your eyes on the one below!

14. Open up your home to your garden

Making the gap between the inside of your home and your garden seamless has become the on-trend thing in garden restorations in recent years. It’s a great way of maximising your outdoor space by integrating your garden with the inside of your home. Patio doors or the more popular bifold doors will do just that and make outdoor entertaining even more enjoyable. 

15. Add a hanging bar

These bars became very popular during the lockdown, they were a way of giving you a touch of normality. They’re available online, or if you know your way around a toolbox you can create one yourself. Take a look at our top ten DIY bar ideas here

 

Small Balcony Furniture Ideas

A balcony is a platform that is enclosed by a wall on the outside of a building—first invented by the ancient Greeks to increase the airflow within their heated climate. Nowadays, balconies come in all shapes and sizes. However, small balconies are the most difficult to look after as they offer little in space, meaning there is less choice in what you can do with them. This is why we are here to bring you small balcony design ideas to ensure you maximise the space, so you’re fit to host and entertain your friends and family in an on-trend setting. 

Whether you own an inner-city apartment or a suburban house, we can bring you small balcony ideas to ensure you make use of the space and have an on-trend look. 

How to give your small balcony a makeover in 5 easy steps:

  1. Make use of all the space available
  2. Utilise the angles with small balcony furniture
  3. Add plants and other natural elements
  4. Use lighting to bring an atmospheric touch
  5. Purchase privacy plants or fencing

We’ll go into more detail about the five simple steps for you to transform your small balcony. These simple and cost-effective ideas will ensure you make the most out of your small patio.

Makeover ideas

Our 5 tips will leave you with a space that you can be proud of. You’ll be able to entertain your friends and family on any occasion. 

1. Assess the space before you begin renovation

Measuring the space before you begin renovating will save you time further into the project. You can sort all the measurements and then look into buying the appropriate pieces of furniture. 

The best thing you can do with your balcony is maximising the space. The reason you’re here is that you want small balcony tips, and this is our number 1 tip. You can maximise the space by adding minimal furniture, which will give you more room to entertain. We do get that minimalist design isn’t for everyone, but when you lack space, then “less is more”. If you buy furniture or accessories that are too big for your balcony, the space will feel cramped. So, it’s best to go with small pieces of furniture to ensure you maximise your balcony space. 

How to maximise your small balcony with 5 steps

  1. Use the balcony railing as a breakfast bar.
  2. Fit your furniture in the corners of your balcony.
  3. Buy foldable furniture so you can save space when it is not in use.
  4. Add an L-shaped sofa into the corner.
  5. Use the wall space to add hanging plants or lights. 

2. Make use of every angle.

Furniture that neatly tucks into the walls on your balcony will ensure you maximise the space of your small patio. This seated area, although small, will be able to fit up to five people on - not bad for a so-called small area. Finding the right balcony furniture is key to ensuring you make the most out of your small balcony space. We have a vast collection of small balcony furniture, so you’ll be able to browse and find your favourite with ease. The likelihood is that your small balcony will only fit on a small two-seater dining set. So you can enjoy a morning coffee or a late-night drink with your nearest and dearest, whilst sat around a square or round dining table. 

3. Add plants and natural elements.

Plants are a great way of accessorising your balcony. They’ll bring colour to your space while also bringing additional privacy. When it comes to small balcony plants, you have a whole range of options. Plants are perfect, not only because they add colour to your space, but they’ll also add privacy. However, you can get lost in a world full of plants when it comes to trying to find the right ones, so we’ve given you a little breakdown of the best small balcony plants:

  • For shaded balconies, you should opt for begonias and nicotianas.
  • Sunny balconies should have bedding plants like zinnia’s, pelargoniums and coleuses.
  • Hanging baskets are an excellent way of adding in plants without taking up your limited amount of space.
  • Grow your own fruit and vegetables; strawberries and tomatoes are easy to maintain.

The choice is yours when it comes to selecting what type of plants you need on your balcony. It’s all dependent on whether you want to add plants for privacy or their vibrant colours. With loads of choices, you can create a natural look in your garden with those simple tips.  

4. Use lighting to brighten the space and to add an atmospheric touch.

We love the lighting on this balcony. It’s been wrapped around both the balcony fencing and the square dining table, it’s unique, and we think it’s a balcony idea you could use in your own space. Add lighting to your balcony. Lighting will brighten up space on your patio so that you can sit outside long into the night. The lighting you use is also crucial, as you don’t want to use harsh lighting. We suggest hanging up fairy lights on the wall of your balcony or along the fencing. You can also use candle lighting, perfect for a date night at home. 

5. Add privacy plants or fencing for small balcony.

Neighbours can often overlook a balcony, whether it be people across the street or people above you in the same apartment block. We love the use of the slatted fencing on this balcony, and it breaks up space without losing all of the natural lighting that will come through from the summer sun. Also, with our small balcony privacy ideas, you’ll be able to relax in your garden without the worry of nosey neighbours. So, you might be wondering, along with the fencing, what to use for balcony privacy:

  • You can tie in the idea of having plants with the small balcony privacy ideas by adding large planters or hanging plants that cover sections of your balcony.
  • Install a glass privacy windscreen like the one here.
  • Old-school curtains or beads are an affordable way to add privacy to your balcony. 

UK Front Garden Ideas

Front gardens are often neglected spaces when it comes to home and garden renovations. Usually, a front yard offers little space in terms of comfort, with some homeowners preferring to pave their space for the use of motor vehicles and for its supposed ease (spoiler alert it isn’t easier) but you can read more on that further on. A front garden that features flowers, plants and other greenery can really make a difference when it comes to brightening up a dull looking street. Greenery will not just freshen up your space, but it will also bring wildlife to your garden as well as reducing pollution levels.

So, when it comes to designing your front garden there are plenty of aspects that you’ll need to consider to ensure your ideas come to life. Here is a breakdown of things to consider when designing a front garden.

1. Plan what your front garden will look like from inside your home, consider aspects like privacy and how much you want to see through the windows in your front sitting room.

2.Design a space that’s easily accessible for visitors, if you create a winding path will have visitors trampling over your lawn or flower beds.

3.Choose a surface that won’t cause flooding or long-term maintenance.

4.Always seek planning permission should you decide to pave your garden.

5. Avoid using gravel, wood chippings or any kind of loose material on the ground as it will need maintenance and can get trampled into your home.

All of these tips above are sure to help you when planning the look of your garden. We’ll take a look at each of the tips in more detail.

1. PLAN YOUR GARDEN FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Looking out onto your front yard from the inside of your home is something that wouldn’t normally cross your mind. However, it's incredibly important to plan how this will look before you even begin to think about sticking a spade into the ground. The key things you need to think about whether you’re planning for a large or small front garden is the balance between privacy and blocking your own view. Privacy in a small garden can be easy to implement. Plant trees, bushes or hedges to block the view of nosey neighbours or passers-by. The trouble with creating a space-based on privacy is that it can sometimes impact the view you have onto your street. Not only will hedges and large bushes bring you privacy, but they also won’t deteriorate after poor weather conditions. According to our friends over at The Jolly Gardener, a Cherry Laurel plant is a perfect choice when looking at bushes that offer privacy – And we certainly agree with them on that.

2. DESIGN AN ACCESSIBLE PLACE

We’ve all been there before when visiting a friend’s house and you arrive at a path only for it to wind around a tree… Well, the likelihood is you’ll cut straight across trampling on plants and grass in the process. It's very important in a small garden design to have a path that takes you from the street right to the front door. Not only does this mean that you’ll avoid the prospect of someone trampling over your lovely lawn or your immaculate flower beds, but it also makes it easier for you.

3. CHOOSE A SURFACE THAT WON’T CAUSE FLOODING

Obviously, you want to avoid flooding as best as possible, so when it comes to selecting a surface for your front garden you should choose one that will prevent the likelihood of flooding. If you’re wanting to pave your front then opt for paving slabs, this allows the water to flow between the slabs and into the ground.

4. SEEK PLANNING PERMISSION

There is a possibility that if you are laying down tarmac on a driveway that you might have to seek planning permission before doing so. If you’re laying down tarmac on an area that is over five metres square then you will need to apply for planning permission. If you are simply resurfacing then you will not need to seek planning permission.

5. AVOID USING GRAVEL, WOODCHIPPINGS OR LOOSE MATERIALS

Okay, okay, so we know we might be contradicting ourselves a little here but hear us out. Gravel and loose stone is a good use of the material as it does prevent flooding. However, you can also end up with loose materials, whether that be stone or wood chippings in your house, on your flower beds and sometimes on your street. This means that you’ll need to constantly maintain the material, which isn’t what you want to be doing, especially in a low maintenance front garden.

Now we have taken you through the do’s and don’t of designing your garden, we’ll dive straight into how you can make your front garden look nice. With our design tips, you’ll be able to brighten up and modernise your small front garden and have it looking exactly how you want to with just five simple tips.

Front Garden Ideas

1.Paint your front door a bright colour

2.Use hanging baskets to add colour and save space

3.Floral borders

4.Get your lawn into shape

5.Modern fencing

COLOURFUL DOORWAY

Here is a stunning example of why you should paint your door a bright colour. Not only does it make your home stand out from the others on your street, but it’ll also make your home inviting. The best thing about painting a front door is you can go as wild as you want with the colour. We suggest going as bold as possible, think bright pinks, green or even a classy dark blue. You could even paint your front door a colour that matches the plants in your front garden.

FLORAL HANGING BASKETS

Adding a hanging basket will bring colour to the front of your home. Breaking up the dull look of a brick wall is the main reason why so many of us choose to add a hanging basket to the front of our houses. Not only do they bring a bright and colourful look, but they’re also really easy to maintain. We suggest that your water the hanging basket in your front garden early in the morning and then again at night.

BORDERS THAT PACK A PUNCH

Floral borders, much like a hanging basket will add colour to the front of your garden. Before adding floral borders research flowers that are easy to maintain as doing this will save you time later on, as you don’t want to be looking after the flowers every second of every day.  We recommend using Geraniums as they’re super-easy to grow and will fill in gaps along your border.

THE PERFECT LAWN

Ensuring your lawn is in perfect condition is also key to ensuring your garden looks the part. To learn more about how to perfect your lawn you can take a look at a blog post that we did a few weeks back on how to create and maintain the perfect lawn.

SLATTED FENCING

Take a look at modernising your front garden by using an on-trend look with slatted fencing. Slatted fencing which looks like this can be designed with either horizontal or vertical fencing. This style of fencing has become all the more popular in recent times and it isn’t hard to see why. Use this style of fencing on the front of your garden to offer an extra layer of privacy. You can create a stunning look with slatted fencing by adding lights to the front.

LOW MAINTENANCE FRONT GARDEN TIPS

Small front gardens are fairly easy to maintain, but we wanted to give you some of our tips to ensure you have a low maintenance front garden. We've brought your five low maintenance front garden tips to finish off this weeks blog post, take a look at them below and have a garden that looks the part but doesn't need 24-hour care.

  • Don’t have more than four or five types of plants
  • Don’t go over the top with colours, keep it simple and choose one or two colours for your theme
  • Add artificial grass, this means you never have to mow the front lawn again
  • Choose a plant climber to add colour and to break up the look of a dull wall

 

UK Back Garden Ideas

If you’ve been “umming” and “ahing” about getting your back garden ready for the summer, then maybe some of our back garden ideas will give you the inspiration you need to create a stunning outdoor space. Our tips and tricks blog posts always give our readers the inspiration they need to create a stylish garden that they’ve always dreamt of. So, let's dive into our first UK back garden tip.

1. DECKED AREA

We absolutely loved this back garden decked area, it’s a super-simple layout that is very effective. The borders in the lower part of the shot are filled with wild grass, an easy to maintain plant that is self-sufficient. The grass in the centre is perfect for those of you with kids (spot the crick bat in the centre). And you can watch your kids playing from the decked area which features two large sofas, ideal for entertaining and lounging. The decked area sits beneath a corrugated iron roof, which adds protection and ensures you can relax outdoors even when the weather isn’t up to scratch.

2. PERGOLA AND LIGHTS

Wow! This pergola and lighting are stunning. This is something you can easily achieve in your garden. Pergolas are the perfect addition if you want to stay outdoors throughout a summers evening. The best thing about Pergolas is you can decorate them, not just with lights but with plants that will grow and intertwine to create a more natural look in your garden.

3. DINE AL FRESCO

Dine outdoors all summer long on a patio space like this one. This garden is a really simple design with a white dining set, white cantilever parasol and cream stone it’s a look that will stand out in the summer. You can picture you and yours dining at the round table while you enjoy a cold beer as you make the most of the summer sun.

4. BRIGHT CUSHIONS + ARTIFICAL GRASS

Talk about high impact and low maintenance! This outdoor sofa section is sat on artificial grass, allowing you to relax all summer long. No weeds, no lawn mowing just good old fashioned chilling out – what’s not to love? The simplicity of the white garden furniture is sleek and ultra-modern. You can find a white garden sofa set here from our Madrid range. The ivy wall in the rear of the shot brings the whole look together, and we have to admit this is one of our favourites!

5. OUTDOOR ACCESSORIES (RUGS+TREES)

OMG! Guys (and gals) seriously, take a look at this one. Okay, so it's not in the UK, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something similar in your home. Let’s start from the bottom. The patio flooring is something you can easily create in your own back garden; you could even use a decking if you wish. The outdoor rug which perfectly matches the furniture that sits on it is one of the best features of this back garden. Plants are dotted around which is another feature you can easily replicate in your UK back garden. Finished off with a pale turquoise fence this back garden is one of the best we’ve seen so far.

6. FUNKY/MODERN SPACE

This ultra-modern look is a little different. It features a homemade pergola which allows for trees and lights to dangle for a unique look. You can build your own pergola by following this guide on how to build your own pergola. With a pebbled area and a patio section, this back garden is suited to those of you who want minimal maintenance. The orange and grey colourways contrast and bring a stylish finish to this back garden.

7. FENCING TO BREAK SPACE

If your garden is big enough then you could break up space by adding fencing. The fencing here breaks up space as well as offering added privacy. Use the first half of the garden for green space, with grass and flowers. The rear of the garden should be used for dining and chilling out as it is secluded and allows you to chill out without worrying about nosey neighbours!

8. RAISED DINING AREA

Although on the last back garden idea we talked about having the dining space to the rear of the garden, there is also no reason why it can’t be at the front. Adding a high raise patio that your garden sits on allows you to check out the rest of the green space below. This garden features a large covering similar to that of our Palram Veranda. This Veranda allows you to enjoy the wonders of outdoor living without the worry of the rain spoiling your day.

9. HANGING CHAIRS

If you love to relax outdoors, then a hanging chair is a really cool addition. They can be easily attached to a garden tree or a shed, similar to the one pictured below. The beauty of adding hanging chairs is that they completely change the use of your garden, and there’s next-to-no effort involved. We love the look of these hanging chairs, and we think you will love them in your UK ack garden as well!

10. SLATTED FENCING FOR BACK GARDEN

Last but by no means least is the introduction of slatted fencing. This style of fencing is becoming all the more popular. The use of stylish slatted fence panels pictured below is really on-trend at moment, and it isn’t hard to see why. The beauty of adding a slatted fence to your back garden comes when they are coupled with lighting. The lights will shine through the slats and create a completely unique atmospheric feel for your garden. Add this look to your back garden for an ultra-modern finish.

The Best Balcony Tips

Do you have a balcony, patio or small outdoor space? Then this blog post will be for you. We look at all the possible changes you can make to give your balcony a whole new look with minimal effort. So you can entertain your friends in a stunning setting.

Whether you’re looking to make the most of your space or just to add a little more ‘oomph’ to a balcony, then these ideas should bring your balcony or patio to life.

MAKE IT GREEN

One of the coolest and easiest ways to give your balcony more edge is by adding greenery. Planting on your balcony is an ideal solution to give your small outdoor space a more complete overall look. Not only does it create a more relaxed feel, but it also adds a bit more privacy – There is nothing worse than being overlooked by nosey neighbours!

LINK IN THE LIVING SPACE

Another way to give your balcony or small outdoor space a more inviting feel is to incorporate the living space. Try to bring a similar colour theme from the inside, onto your outdoor space. Doing this allows for your apartment or home to flow effortlessly outside, perfect for when guests come around. Another way of linking the space is by having greenery both inside and outside. Our tip is to have small plants indoors and larger ones outside.

MAKE THE MOST OF THE VIEW

If you’re reading this because you have a balcony then this one is the most important tip. You have to make the most of the view you have. If the view from your balcony is a little lacklustre then it doesn’t matter, you should embrace the space. Add a dining table if possible, or a small 2-seater balcony set, so you can dine al fresco all year round.

OUTDOOR RUGS

We absolutely love outdoor rugs, our friends over at Flair Rugs provide some of the best looking outdoor rugs for your space. An outdoor rug brings such a relaxed feel to your space, and tying the look of the rug with the furniture really does bring the wow factor and us here at Rattan simply love it. We recommend for you to go for a rug on your balcony that stands out, with bright colours and patterns that will catch the eye of your friends.

RELAXED FURNISHINGS

One of the key aspects of the balcony space is to ensure a relaxed atmosphere. A relaxed atmosphere is made easier with furniture that that is both comfortable and easy on the eye. Check out the image below for an idea! They’ve also grabbed themselves an outdoor rug which completes the look.

ADD LIGHTING

Create a super-cool atmosphere by using outdoor lighting like this. Accessorising your outdoor space with lights is a cheap and easy way to bring a different look to your balcony. Not only can a lit up balcony give your balcony a cool finish, but it also allows you to sit on your balcony long into the night.

DECORATE THE FRONT

Not only does your balcony need to look the part when you sit outdoors, but it also needs to look the part for passers-by. Decorate the outside of the balcony with hanging baskets or plants for a natural look that will leave your neighbours jealous.

Now it's your turn to create something similar with one of our tips, entertain friends, watch the world go by or sip on a coffee every morning. Whatever you like to do on your balcony our tips and tricks will help you make the most out of your small balcony space.

‘An Outdoor Lifestyle’ – An Interview with Kerry Price from @renovation_44

As Spring turns to Summer we begin a brand-new garden blog series ‘An Outdoor Lifestyle’. This blog series will see us interview a range of garden lovers, to find out what ticks their garden boxes! We hope this blog gives you, our reader, a chance to be inspired by stories that will allow you to go and create an outdoor space that you’ll love.

In the first of our ‘An outdoor Lifestyle’ blog interviews, we chatted to Kerry Price from @Renovation_44. Kerry, who lives at home with her husband John, their two children and three dogs, has created an outdoor space that we would all dream of.

Kerry’s garden features several areas from a decked area to a patio section that is covered with a stunning wooden pergola. We asked Kerry what she loves about her garden “What I love most about our garden is that we have designed it all ourselves.” Kerry and her partner John had a “vision” and John made sure that these visions came to life. John, with his shovel in hand, began to redesign the look of their garden.

LUXE DECKING

Kerry’s outside space clearly means a lot to her and her young family, as the bi-fold doors that separate the living space and decked area draws the outdoors in. As we step onto the grey decked, we can begin to take in the stunning space that Kerry and John have created. Kerry says that she “Loves the raised decking area that overlooks all of the garden.” This raised decked area can be found at the outdoor look, just look for the deep embossed if you want to match the look that Kerry has created. The outdoor look is a garden company that supplies contemporary decking and artificial grass – Go and check them out!

This decked area also features a modular corner sofa set from us here at Rattan Direct (maybe that’s why this is Kerry’s most loved area). All joking aside this section really does bring the wow-factor! You can envisage Kerry and John relaxing here as their dogs and little ones play in their own play area, another great idea that ensured everyone was happy with the creation of this garden.

The configuration of a garden is one of the most important planning aspects, consider where the sun will shine for the longest, and create spaces accordingly. For Kerry and John, the garden needed to be a place for the two of them to relax, without comprising on space for their two children and three dogs to hang out “we have a separate section of the garden dedicated to the children's play Area! so it was important to incorporate a chill area for myself and John too”. With artificial grass in the centre of the garden, Kerry says that “it’s so much easier than normal grass as its easier to keep clean” all of these minor details within Kerry’s garden are what makes the space so special.

When designing your own garden, you need to consider what the space will be used for, from garden parties to lounging. The way you use your garden must be considered, as Kerry has done so with her garden by installing artificial grass for peace of mind. A lay-Z-spa also sits on the artificial grass, sadly we've forgotten our swimming costumes  – Can we come again, please?

PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE

As we stroll through the grassed area, we lead up to the pièce de résistance that is the patioed section. This area of Kerry’s garden is the standout zone, as it brings the entire outdoor space together. The patio section features a rattan dining set that sits beneath a stunning wooden pergola. This stylish section has large trees to the back which ensures privacy when Kerry and her husband host outdoor garden parties. And that’s what she has missed the most due to lockdown “I can’t wait to have all of my family around for BBQ’s and to celebrate the little one's birthday parties.” We totally agree with Kerry, it's going to be great when we can invite our loved ones over for BBQ’s and summer parties, it's one of the things we here at Rattan have missed.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

We asked Kerry if she had any future plans for her garden “Our garden is now complete so there are no further plans, however, we are looking for our next project to renovate.” She certainly won’t be stopped when it comes to renovating her home, as she’s recently renovated her front garden, check out the before and after picture below!

We’d like to thank Kerry and John, their two children and the three dogs for allowing us to talk about their garden and we hope to catch up with them soon.

To keep your eyes on what Kerry is up to, give her a follow on Instagram @rennovation_44, her content will hopefully give you all the tips and tricks you need to create an outdoor space that you’ve always dreamt of. You can also keep your eyes on our blog page for the next one of our ‘An Outdoor Lifestyle’ blogs as well as information that will help you create a garden that your neighbours will be jealous of.