With foreign holidays on hold for the present, staycations selling out, and pressures easing whilst scientists recommend that people meet outside, focus is turning to maximising the potential of gardens to enhance lives on a permanent basis over the long term, whether entertaining family and friends, or coping with another ‘lockdown’.
Creating a welcoming, safe, place for all age groups and mobility, may mean resurfacing parts of the space, with timber decking or paved areas; painting or replacing fencing, and cutting back some shrubs to ease access.
Long time favourites, BBQs and fire pits may need updating, but must be cleaned and carefully maintained, secure from children and vulnerable adults; increasingly popular, outside bars, with a fridge and lighting, can be designed as permanent features. Also increasingly sought after, hot tubs can be used in all weathers to relax with a book or glass of wine, or sharing gossip with friends and family.
Updating garden furniture with more comfortable all-weather sofas, and installing an outdoor screen to watch sporting events or even create an outdoor cinema, add to enjoyment. A gazebo tailored to the space would be another benefit. Maybe have a bouncy castle for occasional use.
Instead of spending thousands on holidays, diverting investment to improve wellbeing could even include purchasing an exercise bike, with some deals offering a daily on line fitness regime, without having to visit a gym.
Most importantly, improving outside space, with seasonal planting in pretty pots, enables social engagement, helping to prevent the loneliness, which has damaged so many people in the last couple of years; there is also a joy in watching birds and other wildlife by adding bird feeders and developing appropriate habitats to attract and keep them safe.
Improvements can be part of a programme over several years, or delivered within months if carefully organised, but it is wise to check if any structural work requires planning consent. As with any expenditure, it is essential to do your research to ensure best value, reliability and safety, as well as guarantees. The best option is to obtain several quotes, to include equipment and installation by appropriately qualified professionals, as well as running costs and future servicing.
The Checkatrade website (www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides) is a good source of information and advice. Holidays are fun, but thousands of pounds can be spent on memories and photos; since much travel is ‘banned’ for the moment, could upgrading your outside space bring greater happiness?