We’re Lusting After This Feel Good Wildlife Friendly Outdoor Living Space That Instantly Puts Us in a Summery Mood

This tranquil garden was designed by Will Williams (willwilliamsgardendesign. com) for last year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. The garden’s concept came from the idea of ‘lagom’, which is a Scandinavian idea that means ‘not too much, not too little, perfectly balanced’. “We achieved this by saying not too much for us, and not too little for nature,” explains Will. “Although it was designed for a young professional couple who love to garden, relax and entertain during the summer months, bringing wildlife into the area was a key feature.”

We’re Lusting After This Feel Good Wildlife Friendly Outdoor Living Space That Instantly Puts Us in a Summery Mood

SPACE FOR NATURE

The main focal point of the plot was a roofed garden room, with steel-framed, Crittall-style windows. “The structure was something that I had wanted to see come to life for a while,” says Will. “When sitting in there, the feeling of enclosure and privacy was perfect.” The feature walls throughout the garden house built-in bird boxes.

Natural stone boulders create breaks through the planting, and one houses a shallow natural bird bath. “This ran with our theme, ensuring that every space had an element for nature,” says Will. “I always try to incorporate homes for wildlife within my designs.”

The star of the planting is foxglove ‘Foxlight Ruby Glow’, with tall spikes in gloriously summery peach and raspberry tones. “Creating colour in your garden will attract wildlife,” says Will. “Plants such as nicotiana will not only encourage pollinators throughout the day but also at night. These smell beautiful, too, so put them around a seating area to enjoy their scent throughout the summer months.” This relaxing garden shows that, even in a relatively small plot, you can happily share your outside space with nature.

 

Fill your Garden and indoor Vases With Bright And Cherry Blooms That Will Pop Up Year After Year

The Erysistible Collection is the new tougher variety of erysimums, commonly known as wallflowers, on the block. Expect bigger flowers and even easier care – what’s not to love? Bees and butterflies love the sweetly scented flowers, which will return every year and are great for cutting for indoor displays.

Fill your Garden and indoor Vases With Bright And Cherry Blooms That Will Pop Up Year After Year

In varying shades of purple, yellow, orange and pink, they’ll brighten any border or patio pot. Choose from five colourful varieties, £12/3 or buy the collection of 10 and get three of each for just £20.

HALF PRICE

Plus get five free. Plus, fill a pot on your patio, and brighten the dullest of days, with easy-to-grow dwarf forsythia ‘Mini Gold’. Order now and get three plants for HALF PRICE at just £18.

Fill your Garden and indoor Vases With Bright And Cherry Blooms That Will Pop Up Year After Year

These erysimums are totally erysistible! Height and Spread 20-40cm. Order now for £12/3, buy a collection of five (one of each) for £15 and SAVE £5, or get a collection of 10 with five free (three of each), for £20, plus five free. They are supplied as young plants in 14 days.

Fill your Garden and indoor Vases With Bright And Cherry Blooms That Will Pop Up Year After Year

Dwarf forsythia ‘Mini Gold’ Growing to just 1.2m tall, this dwarf variety of forsythia is smothered in vibrant yellow, open-mouthed blooms with a sweet, daffodil-like scent from March to April, making it perfect for pots in small gardens. In autumn, the foliage turns shades of red, orange and yellow before dropping. Extremely easy to look after, position it in a sunny or partly shaded spot in well-drained soil. Buy one now for £12, or order three for at £18. Supplied in 9cm pots in 14 days.

 

Filling Your Outside Space With Bright and Baautiful Summer Flowering Plants Has Never Been Easier

This month, you can claim a bumper collection of 36 plug plants for FREE. You’ll get six petunia ‘Frenzy Mixed’ plants, in a mix of dazzling colours, six begonia ‘Organdy Mixed’ plants, with bronze or green foliage that contrasts beautifully with the colourful blooms, six rudbeckia ‘All Sorts Mixed’, for long-lasting blooms that make excellent cut flowers, six nicotiana ‘Eau de Cologne Mixed’, with glowing, upward-facing blooms, six lobelia ‘Ultra Cascade Improved Mix’, for wonderful cascading colour, and six busy Lizzie ‘Accent Mixed’, for a magical array of colours. Plus, get 36 geranium ‘Best Red’ plants for £9.99 and save money on phlox and busy Lizzie ‘Roller Coaster Hot Pink’.

Filling Your Outside Space With Bright and Baautiful Summer Flowering Plants Has Never Been Easier

Fill pots and borders with geranium ‘Best Red’ and enjoy long- lasting shapely scarlet flowers from June to October. It’ll be happy in sun or semi-shade. Height 45cm. Spread 35cm. Order yours now and get 36 plug plants for £9.99.

Filling Your Outside Space With Bright and Baautiful Summer Flowering Plants Has Never Been Easier

Phlox Collection save up to £12.97 These creeping plants will carpet your garden in colour from April to June and keep weeds at bay. Plant them under trees, shrubs and tall perennials or use them to soften path edges or cover awkward slopes and banks. If you’re tired of your lawn, why not replace it with a sea of seasonal colour? They’re drought-tolerant once established. Height 15cm Spread 50cm. Buy five postiplug plants now for £9.99 buy 10 for £16.99 and SAVE £2.99, or buy 20 for £26.99 and SAVE £12.97.

Filling Your Outside Space With Bright and Baautiful Summer Flowering Plants Has Never Been Easier

Busy Lizzie ‘Roller Coaster Hot Pink’ The eye-popping blooms of ‘Roller Coaster Hot Pink’ burst into bloom in May and flower tirelessly right through to October. The semi-double blooms stand out beautifully against the dark, glossy foliage. It’s the perfect choice for patio pots, or for a really bold display, plant them in large groups in borders. Height and Spread 50cm. Buy five jumbo plug plants now for £12.99 or get 10 for £19.99, SAVING £5.99.

 

The sun’s Back and a Stylish Late Lunch is The Perfect Way to Start Using Your Garden as a Social Space Again Glasses at The Ready!

Lay down your trowel and head to the sunniest spot in your midday garden. Why? Because spring is springing, the days are getting warmer and it’s time to throw the garden party of the year: a gin & jazz après midi (a soirée that happens in the afternoon). The relaxed but super-stylish combination of gin & jazz is the coolest of bar trends for 2020, so it’s the perfect way to kick-off your year of garden get-togethers. The gin & jazz trend has been quietly bubbling up for a couple of years now. Festivals have been launched in its honour across the UK, from Scotland’s Cairngorms to Kent’s Tunbridge Wells.

The Perfect Way to Start Using Your Garden as a Social Space

Around the world, the hottest new bar openings have embraced the pairing: the current place to be seen in South Africa’s Cape Town is the Art of Duplicity Speakeasy Bar, with its hidden entrance and must-be-on- the-guest-list glamour. Once you’re inside, you’ve entered a world of live jazz and luxurious gin cocktails, such as The Geisha’s First Blossom Tanqueray No.10, plus cherry brandy, champagne, yuzu and jasmine cordial and rose petal sherbet.

Meanwhile, in Japan’s Nara Prefecture, Bar ‘Pippin’, described by The Telegraph as ‘…one of the most eagerly anticipated bar openings of Japan’s drinks scene’, delivers its signature cocktails to the soothing strains of jazz. This intimate venue, with only 12 seats, serves up what customers describe as the best Salty Dogs – gin and grapefruit juice over crushed ice, in a salt-rimmed cocktail glass – they’ve ever tasted. But now the gin & jazz combo is moving out of the night-time shadows to under the noonday sun. In the boutique grounds of Malmaison Aberdeen and on the sunny terraces of Johannesburg’s La Boqueria, lunchtime G&J gatherings are fast becoming where it’s at. High time, then, you introduced them to the chicest venue of all: your spring-flower-filled garden.

The Perfect Way to Start Using Your Garden as a Social Space

MODERN JAZZ

The first thing you need to know when hosting a gin & jazz party is why these two things belong together. To answer that, you have to rewind 100 years, back to the dynamic, beguiling, Bohemian 1920s – the era that American author F Scott Fitzgerald dubbed ‘The Jazz Age’. This was a time for breaking boundaries: reaching dizzying speeds in newly available motorcars, slashing hems, bobbing hair and embracing the rule-defying rhythms of jazz. Fitzgerald was the chronicler of the age. His famous novel, The Great Gatsby, was the quintessential portrait of the decade’s exuberance (and its darker side, too). And Fitzgerald’s favourite drink was gin, usually in the form of a Gin Rickey – long glass, measure of gin, fill with ice, add the juice of half a lime, top with fizzy water, garnish with the squeezed lime and drink! But the current trend isn’t simply a homage to Fitzgerald and the Roaring Twenties.

The Perfect Way to Start Using Your Garden as a Social Space

Gin & jazz lunches owe a debt of gratitude to the recent jazz boom, with a new generation of musicians, including Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings, Kamasi Washington and Jazzmeia Horn, creating a modern scene that draws on each and every musical genre, from reggae to rap. Poland’s Wojtek Mazolewski borrows from electronica – check out Roman II from his latest album When Angels Fall. In his track Brother, the innovative jazz musician Miles Mosley plays with funk and soul, while Matthew Halsall’s 2019 release, Oneness, conjures up the spiritual music of meditation. So if you think you don’t like jazz, think again! Whatever your usual go-to-music genre is, someone on today’s jazz scene is playing music that will inspire you.

TREND FOR GIN

The same playful approach has revitalised the gin world, too. Over the last decade, sales of this spirit have soared, transforming gin from a bottle to reach for in life’s more traumatic moments to the tipple of choice for the coolest of cats. It’s predicted that this is the year when domestic sales will hit the 100 million bottle mark, and the market is awash with delicious new products: craft gins, pink gins, coloured gins and savoury gins. With the gin surge has come an explosion in tonics and mixers, too, plus a whole smorgasbord of experimental new garnishes. So, when it comes to your gin & jazz garden gathering, the bar needs to be centre stage.

BUILD A GARDEN BAR

The key to a good bar is to improvise with panache! Wooden vintage apple crates can be stacked to hold mixers, or position a few on their sides to display attractive gin bottles. Commandeer the potting bench as a makeshift drinks table. Sit bottles inside empty window boxes and large pots, and turn a barrel planter upside down to use as a table. There are lots of gins on the market that are perfect for a garden gathering, with plant-based flavours and natural motifs on their illustrated labels. Stand each on an upturned terracotta pot, with foliage wrapped around its base, to show off each to its beautiful best. If you want to go the extra mile for your guests, stand your gins and your tonics/mixers on separate tables and leave little notes beside each one, describing the taste of each gin and the toni ink bookst y e of mixer matters the final drink sh s much tonic as gin. All tonic waters have their own taste. If you have a sweetish tooth, stick to Schweppes.

Fever-Tree Light Tonic Water (£1.70, tesco.com) creates beautiful bubbles. Luscombe Tonic Water (£4/5, abelandcole.co. uk) is made for citrusy gins, while the Double Dutch range (£4.15, waitrose.com) is low on sugar and high on unusual flavour combinations – try pairing a dry gin with the cucumber and watermelon mixer. Once your gin, tonics and glasses are laid out safely, it’s time to bring on the garnishes. The classic gin garnish is a twist of lemon or lime, and bowls of both fruits help to give your bar a colourful zing – but don’t stop there. The garnish should deepen or complement the flavours in the gin, so lay out a range of freshly picked herbs. The award-winning Ditchling Gin (£42.95, masterofmalt.com) is amazing with a squeeze of fresh orange, a splash of sparkling spring water and a sprig of rosemary. Raid your kitchen for spices, too, which will add an extra layer to your drinks.

A heady kaffir lime leaf will bring out the subtle smokiness of Willow Tree Gin (£38, willowtree distilling.co.uk) perfectly. Drinks made? Then it’s time for lunch…

APRIL TAPAS

As it’s still spring, look for a sheltered spot for lunch. It can be breezy in April as north-east gusts often join the more usual prevailing winds that come in from the south-west. If you have any large potted plants, you could move them to create a DIY windbreak. The sun will feel at its warmest in the early afternoon, so time your late lunch to make the most of it. If you can, move your garden table into a nook near a white-painted wall or fence, which will reflect the sunlight, earning you some bonus warmth. Drape throws over the backs of your chairs for extra cosiness. Serve up warm food, too. A good choice is tapas because it begs for gin-friendly pairings such as olives, lemons and herbs. Think crowd-pleasing paella, calamari, baby potatoes with salsa, olive bread, Spanish tortillas and sizzling garlic prawns. After lunch, just kick back, moving the throws onto your outdoor sofa. The whole vibe of jazz is to go with the flow, whether that’s dancing on the decking or sitting back and letting the music carry you away to a happy place… with a few more glasses of gin, of course!

 

In Shades of Jade Green and Dusky Purple Kohlrabi Makes a Stunning and Tasty Addition to Your Garden

Quick and easy to grow, kohlrabi looks fabulous and tastes delicious, so put it at the top of your list of veggies to raise this summer. If you’ve never tried it before, then you’ll be surprised by its sweet, nutty taste. The plants add both colour and structure with long stems of generous foliage protruding from knobbly orbs: those lovely plump globes sit on top of the soil, so they’re in full, eye-popping view. The most handsome member of the cabbage family, kohlrabi thrives in soil that’s free-draining but still moist. It prefers a sunny spot but will do well in dappled shade and copes in a heatwave. It’s quick to mature so it’s a satisfying veggie to grow.

Best Ideas To Create Stunning Garden

Sow a few seeds every three to four weeks and you’ll enjoy a regular supply from late-spring until autumn. Sow a few purple kohlrabi at the end of summer, and they’ll last through the first few months of winter long after everything else has succumbed to the cold and frost. Start to harvest the bulbs as soon as they become golf-ball sized. They’re more tender and tasty when they’re small, so don’t let them grow any larger than a tennis ball. If you want to go for maximum impact, though, there is a supersized variety called ‘Superschmelz’, with globes that grow up to a whopping 8kg (£1.85/130 seeds, kingsseeds.com).

Despite its size, it remains crisp and sweet. Keep your eye on the plants for any signs of the leaves being nibbled by caterpillars, which are the usual pests that tend to bother the cabbage family. The good news is they prefer other brassicas to kohlrabi but if you do see any signs of damage, just cover your plants with horticultural fleece. Once you’ve added kohlrabi to your repertoire, you won’t want to be without it.

Best Ideas To Create Stunning Garden

It’s the star of the summer salad bowl: just trim off the leaf stems and base, peel the swollen stem, then grate or cut it into matchsticks to add a mild and deliciously refreshing crunch that’s similar to a radish. It also transforms home-made slaws. You can cut it into wedges and boil or roast it. You can stir-fry it, or bake it into a creamy gratin. Or keep it simple and steam it to enjoy drizzled with melted butter or olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few grinds of pepper. The leaves can also be added to a salad steamed or thrown into soups and stews, just as you would spinach.

Best Ideas To Create Stunning Garden

The purple-flushed globes of organic ‘Delicacy Purple’ are pretty to look at as well as having a great taste. Plant them this month and you’ll be able to harvest them June to September. Height 45cm Spread 40cm, £5.95/10, 10-15cm plants, harrodhorticultural.com. For a versatile variety with a crisp texture that can be planted for an autumn harvest as well as a spring-summer one, try ‘Olivia’, Height 40cm Spread 30cm, £2.80/50 seeds, mr-fothergills.co.uk Sow outdoors from March to July and start picking from June to October.

HOW TO GROW

Kohlrabi grows happily in a container and the bold leaves and bulbous stems create a striking look.

YOU WILL NEED A

Deep pot with drainage holes (at least 40cm diameter and 40cm deep) Multi-purpose potting compost such as New Horizon All Veg Compost, £8.99/50L marshalls-seeds.co.uk Kohlrabi seeds such as ‘Vienna Mix’, 99p/280 seeds suttons.co.uk Bag of fine-grade Vermiculite, £2.99/2L amazon.co.uk.

WHAT TO DO 1

Fill the pot with compost and firm down. 2 Use your finger to make 10 shallow holes a couple of centimetres deep and 7cm apart. Put the seeds on a piece of paper and, using a pencil, flick each one into a hole. Cover each seed with a little compost and level the surface. 3 Water in well using the spray attachment of your hose. The compost should be damp but not sodden when you push your finger in. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out in warm weather. 4 Cover the surface with vermiculite to improve air flow and water retention. Protect with a cloche until the seeds have germinated or if it gets chilly at night.

KOHLRABI, APPLE & ORANGE SALAD WITH TOASTED HAZLENUTS INGREDIENTS

100g hazelnuts 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 orange 1 lemon 2 kohlrabi 2 apples 2 fennel bulbs 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper A bunch of watercress Serves 4 .

WHAT TO DO 1

In a dry frying pan, toast the nuts and fennel seeds for 2 minutes, tossing frequently, until golden. Tip onto a plate to cool. 2 Peel and segment the orange and roughly chop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl together with any juice from the chopping board. Zest and juice the lemon into the bowl. 3 Prepare the kohlrabi. If the stems and leaves are still attached, cut them off, then slice the kohlrabi in half, down through its centre. Place the halved kohlrabi cut side down and slice into quarters. Use the tip of your knife to cut at an angle through the core. Discard the tough centre. Stack the slices and use a sharp knife to create evenly-sized matchsticks. Add to the bowl, tossing in the fruit juice until covered. 4 Peel the apple and cut into matchsticks. Remove the outer layer of the fennel and carefully cut out the core. Slice very thinly and add to the bowl, tossing in the juice. 5 Mix the olive oil together with a pinch each of salt and pepper and add to the bowl. Stir well so everything is coated. 6 Divide between four plates and scatter over a handful of watercress, then sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts and fennel seeds.

Best Ideas To Create Stunning Garden

KOHLRABI SCHNITZE WITH A YOGURT DIP INGREDIENTS

2 kohlrabi 1 egg, whisked 100ml vegetable oil For the breadcrumb mix 40g fresh breadcrumbs 1 tsp salt 1 tsp paprika 2 tsp pumpkin seeds, crushed (optional) 2 tsp sesame seeds (optional) For the dip 80g Greek yogurt Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped Dash of Dijon mustard 1 tsp red pepper flakes Salt to taste Serves 4.

WHAT TO DO 2

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Peel the kohlrabi and boil whole until a fork pricks the centre easily approx 20-25 minutes. 2 Let the kohlrabi cool then slice into rounds. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, salt, paprika and seeds, then reserve. 3 Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. When the kohlrabi is cool enough to handle dip it first in the whisked egg then the breadcrumb mix. Fry until brown and crispy, approximately 2 minutes on each side. 4 Mix together the yogurt, coriander, mustard and red pepper flakes. Season with salt. 5 Let the rounds of kohlrabi cool slightly on paper towels to drain off any excess oil. Serve with the dip on the side.

 

If You’re Fed Up Trying to Keep Your Grass Looking Good Then it’s Time To Go Faux and Swap it For ArtificIal Turf

By e-bye lawn mower! Farewell strimmer! Good riddance grass seed! If you want a low-effort, lush and green lawn all year-round – not to mention more space in your shed without all that stuff – then it’s high time you considered going faux. Swapping your trad grass lawn, however big or small, for an artificial one will save hours on maintenance, and the latest turfs offer a great look for an increasingly affordable price. If the last time you saw a strip of faux grass was a decade ago, when it still looked like AstroTurf that might just glow in the dark, think again. Artificial lawn manufacturers are now producing such life-like real grass alternatives, that you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference.

If You’re Fed Up Trying to Keep Your Grass Looking Good Then it’s Time To Go Faux and Swap it For ArtificIal Turf

A perfect lawn all year-round that will look amazing for at least ten years? What are you waiting for?

EASY OPTION

As our lives get ever busier, we’re all looking for ways to make our downtime last that bit longer. This includes when and how we use our gardens, and fake turf means less time mowing and more time enjoying. Just think of never having your grass wave in the breeze, whispering ‘mow me’, when all you want to do is put your feet up and enjoy an al fresco cocktail or two. Imagine no bald patches in summer and no mud baths in winter. Not only that, the better drainage that comes with an artificial lawn means you won’t have to worry about mud being tracked into the house after a downpour. Plus, it dries super-quick, so if you drop the washing off the line it won’t end up dirty and wet and need washing again! If you’re fed up trying to keep your grass looking good, then it’s time to.

If You’re Fed Up Trying to Keep Your Grass Looking Good Then it’s Time To Go Faux and Swap it For ArtificIal Turf

Artificial grass is available in lots of options including shades from light green to deeper, more luxuriant shades with a mix of different tones. You can choose the thickness, weight and pile height, just like an indoor carpet. It’s available in rolls of 2m or 4m widths and as tiles, or you can go bespoke and get it cut to size. Most faux grass options consist of three or four synthetic layers: a drainage layer, a multi-layered backing usually made from latex or polyurethane, the ‘thatch’ made from polypropylene and the grass ‘blades’ made from a mix of nylon and polyethylene. Some types also have a granular infill that is added to fill in the area between the blades of grass, weighing it down and making it look more realistic.

If You’re Fed Up Trying to Keep Your Grass Looking Good Then it’s Time To Go Faux and Swap it For ArtificIal Turf

The type of backing, thatch and mix of blades you choose will dictate the finished look and feel (see panel below). Your choice will also be affected by the type of soil or surface you’ll be laying the faux turf onto, what you’ll be using the lawn for, whether you have pets and what your budget is. But all this choice means you’ll be able to lay a lawn that caters for the specific needs of your plot and how you like to use it. For example, if you tend to get lots of muddy patches, you can opt for faux grass with extra drainage holes. If you like lying on your lawn on hot summer days, you can choose super-soft blades that feel just like the real thing.

GOT PETS? NO PROBLEM!

The cheapest, most affordable turfs tend to be ones backed with latex, which is strong and long-lasting. However, if you’ve got pets who wee in the garden, this layer will absorb urine and the harmfu ammonia it produces. There are specific artificial grass cleaners that will help to get rid of urine (try Kg Turf Artificial Grass Cleaner, £19.99/1L lawnworld.co.uk), but it could work out cheaper in the long run to invest in pet-friendly turf. This has a layer of polyurethane, meaning that it doesn’t absorb liquids – it will still need a regular hose-down, but those hygiene and odour issues won’t be a problem.

If You’re Fed Up Trying to Keep Your Grass Looking Good Then it’s Time To Go Faux and Swap it For ArtificIal Turf

WHAT’S NEW?

The original artificial grass was created in the 1960s in the USA for the Houston Astrodome sports stadium and was called AstroTurf after the stadium’s name. Roll on many decades and the advancements in technology are amazing. Which do you want for your modern garden? No-fade: Unlike real grass that changes olour dependent on weather, situation and aintenance, faux has built-in UV protectors. Odour-resistant: For a pet-friendly faux wn, choose turf with a polyurethane backing.

Multi-colour ‘blades’ of grass: Faux or real? our neighbours will never know the difference you choose a high-end option that mixes ree or four different coloured blades. Grass height: You can choose how long ou’d like your faux grass to be; the longer it is, e more lush it will look, resembling real grass st before it needs to be mowed. Pile density: This refers to how many grass lades’ are sown into the backing fabric – the ore there are, the more luxuriant it will look.

The size of the area plus your DIY skills, or lack of them! will help you decide whether to give it a go yourself or call in professional installers. The smaller the area, and the better the soil or hard surface, the easier it will be. Be sure to factor in the cost of equipment needed, as well as skip hire to get rid of your old turf. Here’s what’s involved: Remove all the turf. For a small patch and if your back is up to it, then a spade and fork will do the job, otherwise hire a turf cutter to make the job easier and quicker. Remove a depth of 35-40mm. Lay weed control fabric over the entire area and fix in place using fabric pegs. Create the sub-base using a layer of sand, granite chippings or other aggregate mix to 35mm thick and level out. Hiring a compactor will make this job easier. Lay another layer of weed control fabric on top and fix in place using more pegs. Roll out the artificial grass, overlapping the edges of the area. Make sure the grass rolls are laid in the same direction and that the blades of grass all point the same way. Lay the rolls directly next to each other with no blades caught in-between. Use a craft knife to trim around the edges. To fix the lengths together, lift up the edges and spread jointing tape along the gap, then add adhesive to the tape and push the edges back into place.

Roll out the green carpet… These will look great on your outdoor dining table and match your new lawn perfectly. Artificial Grass Coaster, £7.95/6 evergreendirect.co.uk So, you’ve got a good idea of what type of turf will work best in your garden. The next step in your search for the perfect product is to narrow down which pile length and blade density you’d prefer, from short and neat to longer and lusher. The best way to do this is to spend an afternoon visiting garden centres and DIY superstores. Many carpet showrooms now stock a range of faux grass, and search online to see if any artificial turf manufacturers have a showroom near you. Next, send off for plenty of free samples – most manufacturers and suppliers offer these.

Pop a label on the back of each, or tape on a piece of paper, and write on the manufacturer, grass name and price per square metre. Lay a mosaic of samples in your garden on a dry day and put them to the test! First of all, give them marks for appearance. Rate the samples not just on how they look when you’re standing next to them, but how they look when you’re lying down, when viewed from inside the house and from above through a bedroom window. Next, mark them for feel – both with your hands and bare feet. Note not just how soft the blades feel, but how much cushioning there is underfoot. Next, fake a shower of rain with the hosepipe and run through your tests again when the samples are wet. Give them a good soak, and rate on how quickly the water drains through them. Finally, invite some friends round and ask them to order the grasses from which they think is the cheapest to the most expensive – you might be surprised how a cheaper turf fares against a higher-priced alternative.

How to look after your faux lawn The trick to keeping it looking lovely and lush is to clean little and often rather than letting dirt and debris build up. For pet owners, use a poop scoop and doggy bag, then rinse the area using a watering can or hose. Hose the whole lawn once a week, and give it a wash using artificial grass cleaner every couple of weeks. If you’ve got lots of overhanging trees or deciduous shrubs, use a leaf blower to clear the lawn when needed. Give the turf a brush or use an artificial grass rake to stop the blades matting, but don’t use your indoor vacuum on it: not only will it damage the grass, but your Dyson won’t be very happy either!

 

Finds And Feathers Whatever Your Pet Here’s How to Enjoy Your Garden With Them

Pets and plants go hand in hand when it comes to feeling good. Gardening is known for its physical and mental health benefits, while pets are said to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. So, here are three things you can do this month to make your outside space even more enjoyable for you and your animals. Turn up the feel good.

Finds And Feathers Whatever Your Pet Here’s How to Enjoy Your Garden With Them

1 LOVE YOUR LAWN A

lovely lawn not only looks good, it’s a great place for a game of fetch with your dog, plus it’s a soft and warm place where you can both relax in warmer weather. Go artificial and it’ll be maintenance-free and easy to clean too! Try quickgrass.co.uk, from £8/m2.

Finds And Feathers Whatever Your Pet Here’s How to Enjoy Your Garden With Them

2 ADD HEIGHT

Cats love to climb trees and sit up high so if you don’t have any in your garden, consider a tall outdoor scratch post with platforms instead. Try the weatherproof Karlie Outdoor Cat Tree, £159.99 zooplus.co.uk

3 GET PLANTING

Rosemary, lavender, honeysuckle and sage are all pet-friendly plants and will fill the air with delicious scent.

CATS AND BIRDS

Don’t usually mix but this steel wire Tooarts Cat Shaped Bird Feeder will have them flocking, £11.99 amazon.co.uk.

It’s National Pet Month (April 1-May 10), with lots of fun events being held to celebrate the benefits pets bring to our lives. Why not get involved and host a fund-raising party or pet show in your garden? Find out more at nationalpetmonth.org.uk It’s celebration time!

 

This Month We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

I share my garden with… my husband Tony and our Cretan rescue cat Metaxa. I moved into Tony’s 1960s semi in 2017. The garden was neglected and overgrown, but there were two fruit trees, a pear and an apple, which were laden with fruit, so we kept them when we revamped the garden last year.

My garden is… rectangular and faces north west, so different areas get the sun at different times of the day. There was a huge conifer taking up lots of space at the end of the plot, but we cut it down when we redesigned the garden. We did all the work ourselves although, because we both work full-time, it took us a year to get it finished.

We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

Tony dismantled and rebuilt the summerhouse, which was a fabulous bargain buy from Gumtree. He also built the large raised decked area, the pergola above it and the dining area at the top of the garden. We re-turfed the lawn area because it looked scruffy. I ordered the turf online and it was delivered the next day. It’s great quality and looks like it has always been there. We had new boundary fencing put up, which I painted grey, so it fades into the background. I picked out the dining area by painting it pale green, so it stands out. The area between the summerhouse and the utility room was turned into a herb and vegetable garden by adding a plant stand, terracotta pots and hanging baskets.

We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

My inspiration is… the Black Dog nursery in North Mundham, Chichester. I bought all my herbs there and two very unusual plants: Balm of Gilead and the most amazing allium that grows clusters of tiny onions at the top of the stems, which I cut off and use in my salads. Best garden moment I’ve been a retail manager for Cancer Research UK for 19 years and last July we held a fundraising garden party with Pimm’s, Prosecco and afternoon tea. I made sandwiches, cakes and biscuits, invited a few close friends and asked for donations. I crystallised rose petals for some of the cakes and decorated the biggest with my home-grown Alpine strawberries. Tony and I met at a Stand Up to Cancer event I held in 2014 and we’ve held events like this together ever since, raising £11,833 so far.

We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

Favourite area The summerhouse, which reminds me of my childhood in Scotland, when we had a lovely one in the garden. Tony has put in electricity so it can be used all year and on darker nights. We also have a fridge in there, which is great for food for the barbecue and drinks during the summer. I painted the inside white and we laid pine laminate on the floor. The outside is the same shade of grey as the fence. I also love the decked area, where we can relax with a drink, and the dining area where we sometimes have breakfast.

We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

Current obsession Keeping the garden tidy as the spring bulbs emerge and everything bursts into bloom. Best buy It’s more of a best make, actually. Our ice bucket was a project from Modern Gardens magazine. I made it from a large flowerpot on which I drew ‘mosaics’ and then painted them in with acrylics. I love it because it holds lots of bottles! Favourite plant We seem to be able to grow anything here. I love roses, peonies and jasmine. We were given a lovely old climbing rose called ‘Albertine’, which grows up the fence close to the decking, and a ‘Rambling Rector’ for a wedding gift when we got married in Crete in September 2017. This is when we found our cat Metaxa and I’ve now started a charity the Metaxa Maris Foundation – to help the other cats at the resort.

We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

Latest project It’s another big one: the front garden. We have parking for three cars here but we need new boundary fencing, to renovate the large fishpond and landscape the whole thing with totally new planting. The only plant we will keep is the beautiful deep red climbing rose that grows up the front of the house.

We Take a Peek Over The Fence at Sue Stoves Clark’s Pretty Outdoor Living Space in West Sussex

My top tip Plant whatever makes you happy and gives you pleasure! What my garden means to me We like to spend time with our family and friends, so that’s what we had in mind when redesigning the garden, with space for seating where we could relax and eat. We only completed it last July and there’s still lots to do but I think we’ve created a great space. Last summer we had lovely barbecues with family and friends almost every weekend. Tony and I spend most summer evenings in the garden when it’s fine, enjoying dinner out there and just looking at what we’ve achieved. We’re so happy with it.

 

Our Garden is Tiny With a Shed we Need to Access How can we Make it Attractive But Still Practical? James McNeith, Kent

“EVEN A TINY GARDEN CAN HAVE EVERYTHING!

Says garden designer Georgia Lindsay of georgialindsaygardendesign.com. I love the challenge of transforming even the smallest of spaces. It’s a case of being clear about what you want — and, of course, clever design. “I created this design for clients who wanted easy access from their bifold doors to an outbuilding where they store the bikes they use to commute to work. The key to this design was working with those access needs – a walkway with an expansive feel runs through the middle of the plot, with the decking laid across the garden to give the illusion of more width. This makes the garden look really appealing, as well as being very functional. “It’s a tiny garden, measuring just 6.3 x 4.7m, but every inch of it is used. There’s a seating area in which to entertain, attractive planting and a water feature.

Our Garden is Tiny With a Shed we Need to Access How can we Make it Attractive But Still Practical?

Different levels also make it look much bigger than its petite dimensions – beside the raised walkway is a sunken seating area with raised beds behind. “Creating zones on varied levels gives the illusion that the space is bigger than it is and the feeling that you are stepping into different rooms,” Georgia says. “If this garden was split up in the same way, but all on one level, it would have a really different feel.”

Outdoor snug When space is tight, it’s a great idea to have a multifunctional structure. Georgia designed a bespoke feature combining multilevel flower beds and a two-seater sofa positioned in the sunniest spot. It’s made from solid 10 x 21.5 x 44cm concrete blocks (available from builders’ merchants), which are rendered and painted with masonry paint. The flooring for this suntrap is black limestone pavers that help to radiate the heat upwards. “When you’re in this seating area it feels like an intimate little niche because you are sitting quite low. You are encased with lush planting all around you so it’s a room within room,” says Georgia. And having the variou levels within the raised beds is ideal for layered planting and ensures there’s always lush foliage with pops of seasonal colour.

Statement walkway Being creative with the placement of decking can help to make a small garden look bigger. Georgia says: “Think about the angle of your decking having it on a diagonal can be effective; changing the direction of the decking looks good too.” Hardwearing Yellow Balau wood was chosen to provide a pleasing contrast to the paving. “It delineates the zones, and the contrasting textures add an interesting interplay with light and tone,” explains Georgia. Small decking lights illuminate the way after dark, and coloured filters are perfect for changing the mood for parties.

Good looking shed It’s easy to fall into the trap of having a small shed that becomes an unwanted focal point. Georgia’s approach was to install a much larger shed, which took up almost the entire width of the garden, to become its new rear boundary. “I chose a pent-style shed so the roof is angled back away from the house. From the upper windows of the house it’s a more pleasing sight than a flat roof,” says Georgia. Bespoke wooden cladding, exactly the same as that used to cover the fencing, helps the structure ‘disappear’. “There are so many ways that you can integrate a shed,” says Georgia. You could turn it so it’s side-on to the house and grow plants up a trellis on the side. You can top a flat roof with shingle cladding, or create a green roof using sedum.

Extra privacy Terraced house gardens have the inevitable issue of being overlooked. A living screen can provide a solution, but the clever choice of tree or shrub is important since some can end up making the garden feel even smaller. In this garden, a mature fir tree was blocking out light so Georgia replaced it with a line of carefully planted bamboo. “The good thing about bamboo is that it provides a pleasant screen,” says Georgia. “It has a feathery lightness, allowing light through.” Take advice when picking a bamboo variety and manage its invasive tendencies by planting it in a reinforced trench or a deep metal trough Here, there’s a foot-deep planting channel, about 50cm wide, lined with a root barrier membrane especially for bamboo.

More is more! With space at a premium, a less-is-more approach would usually rule out a traditional water feature, yet for a garden like this, such an element is particularly beneficial. “The sound of trickling water can distract from the peripheral sounds of neighbours and traffic noises,” says Georgia, who installed a tiny aluminium cube with a pump, directly behind the sofa. There’s even a tree packed into this plot. “A fig tree is an ideal plant to put into a raised bed because they like their roots to be restricted and love free-draining soil. It’ll produce large leaves, which will create welcome dappled shade in the summer,” says Georgia. The fig shares the central space with a variety of sun-loving plants, including orange crocosmia and cheerful trailing nasturtiums. When the sun goes down, pockets of lighting give the lounge area a cosy feel. “I recommend adding lights within the plants because they illuminate the foliage, casting amazing shadows, without being harsh,” says Georgia. TIP Paint the render on raised beds grey rather than white, which can quickly look scruffy and requires painting annually There’s a water feature hidden in here!

 

Turn Old Glass Bottles and Jars Into Pretty Vases to Display Bright Spring Blooms Indoors and Out

Wood, bright colours and glass jars create a floral display that’s thrice as nice!

YOU WILL NEED

Tape measure and ruler 3 small glass jars, washed, labels removed Craft knife Felt Sheets, £1/10 theworks.co.uk Strong glue General Purpose Pine Timberboard, £8.97/18mm x 200mm x 1.15m wickes.co.uk Handsaw Fine-grade sandpaper Drill 1m lengths of Green Jute Twine x 2, £1.50/ 125m wilko.com.

Turn Old Glass Bottles and Jars Into Pretty Vases to Display Bright Spring Blooms Indoors and Out

WHAT TO DO

Measure the height of the jars to just below the rim and around the circumference. Use a craft knife and ruler to cut three rectangles from the felt sheets to fit around the jars (A). Wrap a felt sheet around each of the glass jars, using dots of glue to secure in place. Stand the three jars in a row and measure their combined length. Use this measurement and the jars’ height to mark two rectangles onto the timberboard, using a pencil. Cut them out using the handsaw and sand the edges. Drill a small hole in each corner of the pieces of timber. Thread a length of twine through the bottom two holes in one piece. Line the three jars up against the timber rectangle, then stand the other piece of timber on the opposite side, so the jars are sandwiched between them. Thread the ends of the piece of twine through each of the bottom holes on this second piece of timber (B). Cross the ends of the twine over and thread them back through both sets of holes, and knot to secure at the front. Repeat this process at the top of the wood. 6 Add water to each jar, and fill with spring blooms such as ranunculus, fritillaria and hyacinth.

Turn Old Glass Bottles and Jars Into Pretty Vases to Display Bright Spring Blooms Indoors and Out

BARK-CLAD VASE

Show off a bunch of daffs with the silvery tones of birch bark.

YOU WILL NEED

Glass jar, washed, label removed Strips of bark in various lengths Hot-glue gun Striped twine, 95p plushaddict.co.uk Daffodils.

WHAT TO DO

Gather together a selection of bits of bark, approximately 2.5cm wide, and in varying lengths – choose some that are a little taller than the jar, and a few that are a little shorter. If you can find tree-fall bark when you’re out and about all the better, but pick some up in your local craft store if not. You’ll fund bundles of birch bark at hobbycraft.co.uk, £5.50/10. Add a little adhesive to the back of one of the longer lengths of bark using the hot-glue gun, and then press it onto the side of the jar. Hold it in place for a few seconds to allow it to adhere.

Turn Old Glass Bottles and Jars Into Pretty Vases to Display Bright Spring Blooms Indoors and Out

Repeat with another longer length of bark. Continue until the jar is completely covered with bark. Repeat the process to create a second layer of bark, this time selecting slightly shorter lengths, so that the first layer of cladding can still be seen behind it. When placing the pieces, try to offset them, positioning them over the joins of the first layer. Wind a length of striped twine around the vase a few times, tying in a knot to secure. Gather together a bundle of daffodils and secure using a length of striped twine to hold them upright. Add water to the jar and pop in the flowers to pretty-up a table indoors or out.