Wednesday 12 July 2017

5 ways to refresh your family garden

After a long winter-spring-summer of near-constant rain, you can forgive your garden for looking a little worse for wear. We're at the bottom of a hill so our lawn becomes pretty pond-like after too much rain and it takes ages to recover afterwards (I hate the rain).
We only really use our garden when the weather is nice, which isn't all that often. The rest of the time, it gets forgotten about. The lawn grows long, the flowers get tangled amongst the weeds and paint peels from the garden furniture. And then the sun appears from behind a cloud and suddenly we're out in the garden again, trying to enjoy the space and make some memories. 

It's not a place we've invested much money in. Blood, sweat and tears, sure, but money? Not so much. There are loads of things I would buy if we had the money, but the garden is never the top of my priority list so that corner sofas and vegetable planets remain in my dreams. I'm a budget garden lover, I want it to look nice but I don't want it to deplete my bank balance. Here are 5 easy ways to refresh a family garden:

1. Keep the play area clean and safe
All family gardens have a little patch of dirt set aside for the kids. It might be a huge towering monstrosity with brightly coloured slides and swings jutting off in all directions or it might literally be a patch of dirt for digging in, but your kids will have a bit of the garden to call their own. It's important to maintain play areas to keep them safe as well as looking nice. Over the winter months, and even over the summer thanks to increased usage, pay area surfaces can grow tired and even unsafe. Debris and wet leaves can create slip hazards on soft surfaces so it's important to get those cleaned up before you use the garden again. Debris can also block drainage which could lead to flooding. For kids who love to play without their shoes (all kids, right?), it's worth cleaning the floor to get rid of any dirt that might be hanging around as well. If you have a fancy pants surface, you may need to get specialists in to make repairs and carry out a thorough cleaning. If you're on a tight budget, you can even get a kit to do the repairs yourself. 

2. Touch up any paint work
We have some wooden garden furniture that we bought from Ikea seven years ago. It has not aged well, it's been painted every year but it still looks really crap. The wood is rotten and some bits have been replaced, it just looks rubbish. I want to upgrade and get a decent garden sofa, but that will have to wait, in the meantime, I will continue to tirelessly repaint each summer so that the furniture looks nice for two minutes before one of the neighbourhood cats come and scratches it all off again (I'm looking at you, prissy cat from next door).  

3. Tidy up
Our lawn can become quite meadow-like. We like to pretend it's because we love bees but actually it's because we're lazy AF. I am terrified of lawnmowers because of a youth spent watching programmes like ER and 6 Feet Under. And Laurie is lazy AF. So, the grass grows tall, the weeds grow everywhere and the garden looks unruly. It doesn't take long to get it sorted though, a couple of hours spent in the garden can have the place looking good as new (and the green bin heaving). 

4. Add something new
Last year, my dad made Ebony a playhouse. This year, hopefully, Ember will be getting a mud kitchen for the bottom of the garden (right, dad?). Each time we get something new, the garden gets a new lease of life. All of a sudden, the kids want to play out and I can snatch some time sitting in the sun. Or at least I hope I'll be able to, as soon as this baby stops eating everything she stumbles across

I love adding new plants to the garden. My mum bought us a new plant which flowers every August so that it will always flower around Ember's birthday. The other month, we went to a National Trust place near us and I saw the most beautiful bush (pictured) so I'm hoping to get one of those next time I pass by the garden centre. 

5. Use it
Want to make your garden feel homely and wonderful? Use it. Nothing makes me appreciate my garden quite like spending time in it. An afternoon out in the paddling pool with the kids, a few hours reading a book on my sun bed or an evening of drinking wine with friends and all of a sudden I am my garden's biggest fan. 

How do you keep your family garden looking nice?

This is a collaborative post. 

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