Phew. It’s a hot one. And temperatures only look set to rise further. Rather than being so typically British and lamenting the heat until it’s gone, if you’re blessed with an outdoor space, you better make the most of it!
Though lockdown is lifting, it still looks some way off before normality is resumed in terms of travel, reclining on golden sands, sunning yourself and the rest. Until then, be glad for your garden, and make it a space you truly want to spend time in. Here’s how to create the ultimate garden chill-out area in 5 IDEAL steps.
LIGHT & SHADE
Contrast is what brings colour and excitement to our lives, don’t you think? If it was hot all year round, we’d be resentful of it. If the sun were to shine constantly and insistently, it might not be such a treat. In your garden, harness the power of contrast through designated areas of light and shade, one offering rays and the other relief.
For outdoor spaces where you want to bask in the sun, hammocks and garden swing seats are a more chilled out, welcoming alternative to the traditional garden bench, which, let’s face it, isn’t so accommodating for long stretches in the sun. Something more willing to cradle your recline, we think, is better suited for an afternoon of indulgent sunbathing or a taking that post-barbeque nap.
That said, there are moments when the sanctity of shade is equally important when designing the ultimate garden chill-out area. Consider installing a parasol, which are flexible and can offer cover to various spaces within the garden in an elegant, effortless way. We’re particular fans of the cantilever kind, such as these from Solero garden parasols, which evoke an afternoon on the Mediterranean seafront, and can be extended to offer shade over a large dining table or picnic blanket equally.
It’s not only the sun you want to protect yourself from in the ultimate garden chill-out area, particularly if your outdoor space is in the urban setting and prone to potential prying eyes peering down into your garden.
Though there’s nothing wrong with some friendly interaction with your neighbours, consistent curtain twitching from those you share the street with can really jeopardise those carefree summer vibes you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.
Consider a few simple steps to more privacy in your garden space, which will be a welcome move from the perspective of both parties. Though it’s impossible to totally shroud your garden in secrecy (and let’s face it; that would look like you were up to no good), you can certainly protect your privacy and improve the natural feel of your chillout space with consciously positioned, tall shrubbery and free standing plants. This is far preferable to erecting clumsy fences we think, as there’s aesthetic beauty added to the mix, too.
The connoisseur’s choice here is Umbrella Bamboo (Fargesia Murielae) which on average stands at four metres tall, and just requires some sturdy canes for support. The thick shrubbery offers privacy and shade effortlessly, and requires little upkeep; just trim each June or July and water judiciously when the plant re-emerges. Magnolia Grandiflora is another smart choice, whose glossy, generous leaves act as a screening tree when left to do their thing.
CHANNEL CHILLOUT IBIZA
Ibiza has a reputation as one of the most popular chilled-out holiday destinations, but since it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed to go there this summer (at least in any of its normal glory), why not try to recreate the Ibiza chillout experience at home?
Invest in some day beds or sun loungers, stretch back and soak up that summer sun, complete with the Ibiza chillout music playlist at the ready of course. Oh, and the experience wouldn’t be complete without a jug of the Ibizan favourite Tinto de Verano; just mix one part light red wine (such as Pinot Noir) with three parts gaseosa (a type of sweet soda), add plenty of ice and garnish with a slice or two of blood orange. Or, you could go all out and serve up some Hierbas Ibicencas (Ibizan Herbs), which is actually a drink made from herbs such as thyme, rosemary, verbena, lavender and many other herbs (according to guarded family recipes), and defined by its strong aniseed aroma.
To mimic the ocean in your own backyard, why not turn one of your flower beds into a sandpit? All you need is a plastic liner to protect it, a bag of play sand and for that real beach aesthetic, some scattered shells. Place a paddling pool next to your beach to create the sea (adding salt to the water is optional) and voila, your very own homemade seaside resort. Accessorise with a hammock, a couple of striped deck chairs and a bucket and spade.
A KITCHEN GARDEN & DINING AREA
Phew, all of these cocktails and too much sun is a recipe for disaster, right? You’ll need some food to keep you going, for sure. But who wants to head inside to cook when you’re in your ultimate garden chill out area? That sense of shade and the indoor atmosphere just kills the buzz flat, don’t you think?
And what would a summer day spent domestically in the UK be without those low and languid barbies which start at lunch and turn into dinner, without a moment spent inside except to use the bathroom? We couldn’t think of anything more enjoyable. To make things as effortless as possible, a kitchen garden hybrid set-up is a must, then, with a designated space for quality grilling, and seats and a table set for communal eating. Much better than a disposal barbeque and a bout of food poisoning. Check out our tips for elevating your summer BBQ experience for more on making things extra special!
TRANSITION FROM NIGHT TO DAY
In the day, we’re spending as much time as possible taking things slow on those aforementioned hammocks, swing sets and comfy sofa lounges. And that’s just lovely. But the arrival of dusk shouldn’t mean you’re packing up for the night and heading inside.
Instead, mark that seamless flow into an evening of merrymaking by changing the mood, visually and in temperature, too with a firepit, which is an excellent way to transition your garden from day to night. Lighting one serves to create a cosy, chillout area under the stars which you can enjoy all evening in comfort. Hey, do you even need a house at all? Add atmosphere with tons of fairy lights strung up around the trees, creating a sense of magic and whimsy.
Now, all you need to do is work out a polite way to ask guests to leave.