Revamp your garden area with some of these amazing tips & Tricks
Think clean, paint, pave, plant – it’s time to get down to some serious but simple DIY projects that will bring new life to your outdoor space. Whether you’ve got a patio, balcony, courtyard or garden, with very little effort you can make your outside area a relaxing retreat. Be inspired by these 20 bright ideas.
Paint garden furniture
One thing’s for sure, if you leave your garden furniture outside all the time, it will weather. In most cases, it’s made of materials that can stand up to the elements, but even then, most garden furniture needs regular maintenance. Check for rust on aluminium-framed furniture and treat it by lightly rubbing with steel wool, then giving it a coat or two of paint. Timber furniture benefits from a light sand and a few of coats of timberoil, or an exterior paint such as Taubman’s Sun Proof.
Start a container garden
You can never underestimate the value of pots in your garden or balcony. It’s hard to beat a lemon tree in a decorative pot, or a group of small pots brimming with seasonal flowers. Short on space? You can grow anything from vegies and herbs to fruits in pots. All you have to do is place them in the right spot – and give them lots of attention, as pots dry out quickly./
Put up a hammock
String a hammock between pergola posts or a couple of big trees in your garden and you’ll create the perfect chill-out zone. A hammock always beckons you to kick back and relax, even if only for a few minutes. Check out Ikea’s Dyning hammock, $39.99 (there’s also a Gårö stand, $99, available if you don’t have anything to secure it to), or Two Trees hammocks from Bunnings Warehouse from $19.95 (155 x 220cm).
Making compost is an art, but you can make it easier by buying a ready-made compost bin, which you’ll find for less than $100. Just add alternate layers of kitchen waste, lawn clippings, soft garden refuse, shredded woody materials and soil, and you’re off and running.
Keep the sun off your outdoor table setting and you’ll use it much more often. You can buy shade cloth from around $10 per metre to cover an existing pergola, or string up a ready-made sail, from around $100.
Slippery surfaces? Revive stone, brick or concrete paths and driveways by washing away dirt and stains with a pressure cleaner. Talk to your hardware shop about which type is best for you. Bunnings Warehouse stock large ranges, priced from $139 for a 1.4kw Gerni.
Lanterns, lights and ornaments
Candle-lit lanterns and flares add a romantic touch to a night garden. They’ll highlight your plants and cast a subtle, natural light. They’re inexpensive, with some lanterns and flares selling for less than $10, and allow you to have several strategically placed around your backyard. In the summer, when the mozzies abound, use citronella candles to ward them off.
Affix a trellis
Want to cover an ugly wall or take a fence to new heights? A simple solution is to put up a trellis and let a climber do its work. Climbing plants will wind around the trellis (wisteria and honeysuckle), send out tendrils (pandorea), or need a little help to be trained onto the structure (roses and bougainvillea). Choose from a plastic, wire or timber trellis. Plastic is perhaps the quickest and cheapest way to go. Find it in colours, such as black, green and brown, to suit most backgrounds.
Put up a green wall
“Green wall” is the buzz garden term of the moment. They’re in commercial spaces, such as shopping centres, and now in small domestic gardens and balconies, thanks to vertical garden kits, which are simple to hang and maintain. Available in different sizes, you can put several together, depending on your space. The Holman GreenWall with eight pots ($99, from Bunnings Warehouse), for instance, is easy to install and maintain, with its integrated watering system.
Add a simple water feature
Every garden should have one – water features date back to Roman times and provide a focal point plus a valuable source of water for wildlife. There’s unlimited choice in garden centres, from small wall fountains to simple birdbaths. Incorporating one in your garden can be as easy as filling a pot with water. You’ll need a pot without drainage holes – a glazed ceramic one is a good option as you won’t have to paint it with a sealant. Otherwise, whatever else you choose will need waterproofing, inside and out. Add a small pump that recirculates water if you want to hear that soothing sound of trickling water. A submersible, low-voltage pump with a transformer is safe and needs minimal maintenance.
This could be the year to dig up that old concrete footpath or broken paving and start afresh. Pavers aren’t necessarily expensive; you can buy concrete, reconstituted stone or brick pavers and renew your outdoor floor on a shoestring. First, determine the area you want to pave, measure and plan exactly what you need, then visit your building or hardware centre and find the size and style of pavers that’ll work best. If you haven’t tried paving before, visit bunnings.com.au for “how to” videos.
Paint a concrete deck or path
Liven up a drab concrete deck or path with a lick of paint. It’s a lot less work than repaving and can have a dramatic effect, but make sure you prep the concrete according to directions. Try White Knight water-based Ultra Pave. It’s easy to apply, gives a durable finish and comes in a huge range of colours, from white to dark green. Porter’s Concrete Wash comes in translucent, subtle colours. Check out the natural earthy colours such as Desert Clay and Tumbleweed
Planning to save water now will help keep your garden looking tip-top. Landscape architect John Fragakis of Bloom Garden Group suggests preparing for summer with irrigation. “If you have an existing system, check it doesn’t leak. Consider upgrading your system to include a weather station, which will assess conditions such as temperature and humidity and then adjust your watering accordingly.”
Grow a climber
Climbers and ramblers can be stunningly fragrant, produce spectacular flowers and give intense autumn colour. Not only can they mask flaws in walls, they can provide extra privacy when grown on tensioned stainless steel wires along the tops of fences. Talk to your local nursery about what’s best for your climate or spot. Remember, most need a sunny aspect, lots of water and attention. Choose from hardy, evergreen, scented star jasmine, a climbing rose, deciduous Boston ivy, native pandorea, wisteria or vivid-coloured bougainvillea.
Add potted colour
Investing in pots of ready-flowering annuals comes with rewards. Straightaway, you can transform a dull corner and give it new life. Dot them around the garden for spot colour, or place plants of the same variety in groups for maximum impact. Potted colour is readily available from your local nursery, and though they’re a little more expensive than seedlings, they’re ready to go. Prepare soil for planting in beds with compost or slow- release fertiliser. If you’re filling containers, always use a good-quality potting mix.
Lay stepping stones
Lawn looking a bit patchy? Why not put in some stepping stones on those well-trodden areas? Choose something that complements your garden style. Regular square pavers, or irregular pieces of stone or timber all make attractive and practical stepping stones. Simply place them as you would a straight or winding pathway and set them just below the level of the turf.
Build raised vegie beds
If you haven’t grown your own vegetables before, why not have a go? You don’t need a big vegie patch, just a simple raised bed. And it’s easy, as long as there’s a sunny spot to put it in. If you’re just starting out, try a kit from a garden centre. Bunnings Warehouse has kits in corrugated steel in many sizes, such as Birdies 90 x 90 x 40cm, $99, or My First Garden 90 x 55 x 41cm, $99. Just add soil, compost and vegie seedlings. Voila!
Paint a wall
Inject new life into an outdoor space and paint a feature wall. Be courageous and opt for bright and breezy colour. Try one from The Digital Nomads Dulux Colour Trends 2014 range. Be bold with rusty Hot Chillie, or opt for the deep, brown-red Burning Brier, reminiscent of houses in Morocco. If you prefer the aged look, a lime wash gives a finish like that of an old Italian villa. Porter’s Original Paints Lime Wash comes in a range of colours, including rich, warm Tuscany, or deep purple Passionfruit.
Install a heater
Think about outdoor heating, says John Fragakis. “We tend to have more time in the evenings to enjoy our outdoor spaces,” he says. “The key is to find a heater that suits your style and garden, whether it’s something traditional, such as a chimenea or brazier, fuelled by wood, heat beads or coal, a gas heater or industrial-designed fire pit.”
Oil the deck
Time to spruce up your timber deck? If it’s looking a little the worse for wear, give it a quick coat of a timber stain or oil. Cabot’s water-based Deck & Exterior Stain is easy to apply. Prefer a natural-oiled finish? Try Cabot’s low-odour, water-based Aquadeck that’s ready for a second coat in just two hours, or try their oil-based Natural Decking Oil that gives a semi-transparent finish.