Warmer and longer spring and summer days have seen the British public embrace the great outdoors, generating the al fresco dining revolution of the past 12-15 years. Households have invested small fortunes on natural stone patios and terraces, as the centrepiece of their garden, and four-course, candlelit dinners, cocktail parties and gin soirées have replaced the invitation for a beer, burger and bun on a dirty patio! For the first two years, the area maintains its pristine appearance. But, at the beginning of the third year, tiny, but vivid, black spots can begin to appear on certain slabs.
WHAT’S THE CAUSE?
Patio black spots are spores of black lichen, the size of pollen. They start life as tiny dust-like spores growing on the underside of leaves on trees and plants. Carried by wind and rain, they can be watered into the pores of garden stonework. Once they have landed, the spores have a two-year germination period. So, for the first two-years of a patio’s life, it will remain looking really clean. In year three, however, the colour in the stone can start to look dull and like someone has flicked a pen across it, leaving tiny ink splatters.
The reason why the spores can grow on garden stonework is because they feed off the minerals within the stone. Once they have exhausted an area of the stone of all its minerals, they grow in search of more. Not only do they spread across the stone giving it a spot-like appearance, they also burrow down into the stone and anchor themselves, meaning they cannot be removed by pressure washing alone. Encouraged by warm, damp conditions, these unsightly spots will only get worse if left untreated, ruining the original beauty of the garden stonework. After five years, the entire area can become infested, and the valuable investment can lose its beauty.
HERE’S THE SOLUTION
With over 30 years of experience in the stone cleaning and restoration industry, The Patio Black Spot Removal Company (patioblackspotremoval.com) has formulated Patio Black Spot Remover to restore the original colour of stonework, resolving this problem once and for all.
CREATE A SHADY READING NOOK
If you’re working your way through your lockdown library, take your book outdoors. Use a staple gun to fix two corners of an old tablecloth to either end of your shed. Punch a hole in each of the two remaining corners and thread through a piece of ribbon. Use to secure to two long wooden poles plunged into nearby borders.
SET UP AN EXTRA SEATING AREA
Preserve your sanity with an extra space to relax in, so everyone can enjoy some me-time. You’ll enjoy seeing your garden from a brand-new perspective, too. Garden Bistro Set, £89.99 beliani.co.uk.
ADD CHEER TO EVERY FENCE
Bored staring at the same four walls? Broaden your horizons and brighten things up with Wilko’s bargain Plant Pot Bracket. Things will soon start looking up with an interesting vertical display! £1 wilko.com
SIP LEMON WATER
When life gives you lemons… make this refreshing, fruity drink to sup all summer long Fill a jug with water and ice cubes, throw in some slices of lemon and cucumber, and make use of home-grown herbs with mint from the garden.
SAY BUZZ OFF TO BUGS
Stretch the hours of outdoor living late into the evening with a citronella-scented candle to keep biting insects at bay. Citronella Candle in Leaf Pattern, £5 dunelm.com.
TURN YOUR SUMMERHOUSE INTO A HOME OFFICE
Make the most of the good-weather months now you’re working from home, and transform your summerhouse or shed into a welcoming workspace, with wallpapered walls in pretty floral prints. For a smooth surface, clad the interior walls with plaster or chipboard first. Our kind of commute!
TREAT YOURSELF TO A HOT TUB
Has there ever been a better reason to invest? On a cost-per-use basis, a hot tub will pay dividends this summer. Find a great range at hydrolifehottubs.co.uk.
SET UP A SOLO SANCTUARY
Create a space to seek out some solitude, before close-quarters living takes a collision course! Pile on the comfort with cushions and throws, pull up a table for your drink, settle back with the latest issue of Modern Gardens, and breathe…
ADD A JAR OF BLOOMS
Your spirits will be lifted with a few flowers on your patio table. Tie twine around an old jar for a fast, fab vase. Stanway Coffee Table, £860 neptune.com.
BUY A QUIRKY PLANTER
When your world has just got smaller, you need a new friend to keep you smiling! Fibre Clay Zebra Head Planter, £15 dunelm.com.
TIDY UP YOUR PATIO
Now’s the perfect time to sort those niggly little garden jobs that don’t involve a trip to the tip! Kent & Stowe Weeding Tool, £7.99 marshallsgarden.com.
CLEAN YOUR GRILL THE EASY WAY
You’ll use your barbecue far more often once you’ve got a pack of quick-clean barbecue wipes. BBQ Buddy, £4/12 homebase.com.
SUSPEND SOLAR LIGHTS
The quickest way to transform your garden into a second living room is with hanging solar lights, and this tasselled trio bring an interior feel. Lucena Tassel Solar Lantern Trio, £39.99/3 lights4fun.co.uk.
PRETTY UP YOUR POTS
When the shops are out of bounds, it’s time to get creative! Raid your jewellery box and upcycle old planters with neglected necklaces, bracelets and beads.
LIGHT UP YOUR NIGHT GARDEN
You’ll use your garden late into the evening if it’s filled with a welcoming glow. Festoon fairy lights from trees and fences, and group solar candles together. Outdoor Lighting Collection from £10 next.co.uk
GO CUSHION CRAZY
Soothe the soul with a sofa piled high with comfy cushions. Find a great selection at hock-dich-hin.de from £26.
CREATE A DIY OUTDOOR KITCHEN
Now the barbecue’s back in business, eradicate the need for ferrying back and forth to the house. Add a shelf to a garden wall, fence or the side of your shed, next to your barbecue area, with a handy hanging rail for your utensils.
MAKE YOUR OWN PUB
Time has been called on local bars and bistros, so transform your shed into a pub. This one’s open all hours! Gin Shed Plaque, £2.50 dunelm.com.
PAINT ME HAPPY
Painting your garden tools in bold, bright shades, from orange through to ochre and everything in-between will send your spirits soaring. M&L Exterior Eggshell in Burnt Orange, £30/1L mandlpaints.com
COCOON YOURSELF FROM THE CHAOS
When the universe seems off-kilter, it’s time to carve out some calm. And there’s no better place to put things into perspective than in the garden. Drape voile panels or mosquito netting from a tree to create a grown-up den. That barely-there barrier will help you to feel safe and soothed. Find similar at myfabrics.co.uk.
Maybe You Like Them Too
- Use a Slatted Fence Panel to Create More Room for Blooms and Zone Your Plot
- Hot July Days Call For Swathes of These Pretty Pincushion Blooms and Clouds of Butterﬂies Who’ll Enjoy The Necdar Feast
- Add Lashings of Colour With New Varieties of These Easy Care Blooms That’ll Last all Summer Long
- Use These Breezy Leaves and Fluffy Flowerhads to Bring a Modern Flourish to Your Garden
- Getting GREAT-LOOKING GRASS has never been easier thanks to STIHL!