With summer on the horizon, now is a good time to turn your attention to your garden.

Even the smallest changes can have a massive impact – here’s some handy tips from the professionals to help you improve your outdoor space.

No need to tidy

“All that garden tidying in lockdown may be satisfying but it’s not good for wildlife,” says garden designer Liz Newport. 

Her company, Buzy Lizzie Garden Design, is based near Penrith and her work can be seen in private homes and small hotel gardens across Cumbria. She is also a curator of the annual Cumbria Life Home & Garden Show.

Wildlife helps a garden to thrive, and Liz recommends keeping creatures and critters in mind: “Think about adding some debris or a wood pile in a hidden corner to encourage insect pollinators, give birds somewhere to go with a nesting box and perhaps even create a small pond by burying a shallow bucket or a bin lid in a spot that gets both light and shade.”

“Pots and planters are a flexible way of adding colour and interest to your garden. You can grow almost anything in a container, from climbers and small trees to annuals, grasses and hostas.” 

“Herbs, salad leaves and strawberries also work well – just ensure there’s plenty of drainage, the right sort of compost and daily watering of your pots over the summer.”

Add pots and plants

Finally installed beautiful decking in your garden but realise it’s looking a bit bare? Have a balcony but not sure what to do with it? Green up your outdoor area with bright pots and planters.

Patios, decks and any outdoor spaces are becoming an extension of our homes, and just like indoors, we like to decorate the places we spend a lot of time in. Investing in larger potted plants, such as evergreen shrubs, standards and even hardy perennials that will look spectacular throughout the year.

Good plants to try in containers include nemesias, hydrangeas, pansies and violas.

When you’re picking containers there are lots of options to use plastic, terracotta or wooden pots and troughs, or you can get creative by recycling things around the home.

From buckets, bathroom furniture, unused bricks or tins, to old teapots, watering cans, wheelbarrows and colanders, according to Gardeners’ World your container should be large enough to give your plants room to grow and provide adequate drainage.

Keep it cool

“Cool the feel of your garden”, recommends landscape specialist Phil Newport from Wildroof Landscapes

His team, based near Penrith, specialises in reusing and recycling materials on site and making new gardens look established from day one. 

He says: “The warm spring sunshine encouraged a lot of Cumbrian gardeners to think about creating cooler spaces.

“Pergolas and arches are a simple way of introducing shade, especially if you can weave in clematis species that will grow and flower at different times.”

“Look out for ideas online and on TV gardening programmes, even if you can’t visit open gardens at present.”

“Another way of cooling the feel of your garden is to introduce moving water. Small fountains, cascades powered by solar pumps and gently overflowing sculptures all add character and there’s a huge range available.

“Even a simple bird bath will encourage wildlife and create occasional background splashing.”

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