15 easy garden update ideas
July 18, 2022
Outdoor living has become huge over the last few years. Not only because we were stuck at home a lot during the pandemic, but because warmer summers have made al fresco entertaining more palatable in Britain. So why not try a few easy garden ideas to ‘level-up’ your summer entertaining game?
Good Homes magazine highlights some easy ways to give your garden an extra-special makeover this year…
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1. Upgrade your garden sofa
A modern sofa set is one of the easiest and most impactful garden update ideas. An L-shaped design is not only more inclusive, but it’s a good way to zone off a dedicated seating area in your garden. A matching coffee table and two built-in side tables at either end are perfect for perching drinks and nibbles on.
The Camber corner sofa set (currently on sale for £1,899 from Furniture Village, pictured below) is made of 100% weather-proof PE rattan, has a versatile stool that also serves as a footrest/chaise end, and a glass-topped coffee table. If you’re looking for more of a bargain corner sofa set, try Aldi’s similar chaise-style set, which at just £299.98 regularly sells out, or B&M’s four-piece corner set with storage box and table at £600.
2. Add a living wall
Living walls are a great idea for urban gardens where there’s not much room for greenery elsewhere, or spaces where plants don’t naturally grow. If you’re not especially green-fingered, there are plenty of faux living walls out there for a stylish maintenance-free alternative.
This faux living wall panel system from Vistafolia (pictured below) offers realistic living walls packed with 72 faux plants per panel (from £288 per panel). For a bargain version, try Dunelm’s artificial eucalyptus and sedum wall panels (£80 for a pack of six), Dowsing & Reynold’s moss wall panels (£34.99 each) or Ikea’s FEJKA artificial plant panels (£5 each).
3. Decorate with planters
If a living wall is a little beyond your means or doesn’t fit your space, try grouping a number of colourful planters and outdoor plat pots. This will give a courtyard garden instant Mediterranean vibes, and is also a great way to soften a patio or decking area. In sunnier spots sheltered from the wind, you can grow orange or lemon trees in planters. In shadier spots, try leafy green plants like ferns. The plants and pots below are from a selection at Dobbies.
4. Go for rattan garden furniture
For a natural looking garden, introduce natural materials such as bamboo, jute or rattan garden furniture and surround it with leafy plants. Not only will this make your garden feel cooler, it will give it a real lush, woodland retreat feel – perfect to escape the trials of everyday lift with a good book and a cool drink. Below: Mundo sofa, around £848; Mundo grey concrete coffee table, around £219; Acean seagrass rug, around £98, all from Bloomingville.
5. Screen it off
We all have those parts of the garden that are more functional than stylish – the bin shed, the jumbled collection of bicycles – but you can screen them off. Opt for a stylish metal screen with a built-in planter over the usual timber trellis for a modern and long-lasting way is a great way to hide something unsightly, create a little privacy from neighbours or even to zone a garden if you have a larger space.
Screens with Envy offers a wide selection of large garden privacy screens and trellises in a variety of colour and pattern options. They’re made from advanced wood composite material, so they don’t warp, age or mould. Below you can see them used in Good Homes editor Karen Walker’s garden to help zone the space.
6. Add a firepit
Make the most of the long summer nights with a firepit that will keep everyone toasty as the sun sets. This one should be top of the garden ideas list for Love Island fans! Top tip: add a bunch of herbs to the fire such as lavender, mint and sage that’ll not only smell nice, but will keep pesky mosquitos at bay too. Pictured below is the Pittsburg small firepit, £139 from Dobbies Garden Centres.
Read more: 8 of the best firepits for evenings outdoors
7. Add a hammock
On a scorching hot day when there’s nothing for it but to take it easy, get yourself a garden hammock and hang it in a shady spot. You can either suspend it from two trees, utilise a hook in a wall or attach it to a garden pergola. Alternatively, you can pick up a hammock stand for around £50-£100 from Amazon. Below: Cruz hammock, around £135; Guilian jute cushion, around £59; Sacha just rug, around £155; baskets and planters, from a selection, all from Bloomingville.
8. Add layers
For a cosy, inviting look, dress garden sofas like you would indoors with cushions and throws in a mix of textures, colours and patterns. Similarly, style tables with plants and coordinating accessories, adding footstools and rugs underfoot for that outdoor-room vibe. Below: Porto four-seater sofa set, £799; alfresco goose-eye rug, from £69; Jungle picnic highballs, £12 for four; Jungle picnic pasta bowl and dinners plates, £15 for four; elephant-print outdoor cushion, £25 for two; straw outdoor cushion; £19.50; woven monochrome throw, £29.50; metal lantern, £25; outdoor pouffes £99 each, all from Marks and Spencer.
9. Summer tablescaping
Make a colourful tablescape using bright colours and fun prints. Finish with a floral centrepiece or a simple glass jug filled with fresh flowers and foliage from the garden. Below: scallop-edge square napkins, £12 for four; multi squiggle stripe cotton runner, £14; Coastal retreat tapas plates, £10 for four; Coastal retreat wave bowl, £7; wood serving bowl, £12; multi stripe bowls, £4 each; scalloped cereal bowls, £5 each; Shell serving plate in blue, £7; Shell serving bowl in coral, £8; Anyday colour-pop green glass tumbler, £5 each and highball glass, £6 each, all John Lewis & Partners.
10. Garden lighting
If you want to enjoy your outdoor living room long into the night, then you’ll need some suitable lighting for both practicality and ambience. Add colourful boho vibes to your garden by hanging outdoor solar lanterns from a tree or pergola. Below: outdoor solar lanterns, £36.95 each from Sparkle Lighting.
Read more: 10 outdoor lighting ideas for your garden
11. Create shade
Unfortunately, climate change means that heatwaves are set to become more common, so make sure you have shady spots in your garden for when the temperatures hit the mid-30s or above. This cantilever parasol with base from IKEA, £315, is a good solution for L-shaped sofas where the base and stand of a traditional garden umbrella would get in the way.
12. Outdoor wall panelling
Replicate the timber panelling interior trend outdoors using Red Cedar, larch or Redwood slatted panels as a more solid and contemporary alternative to fencing. Below: Woburn outdoor concrete dining table, £2,300; matching bench, from £1,300, both Rust Collections.
13. Transform the shed
Turn your tired-looking shed into a feature rather than an eyesore with a bright lick of paint. Add a trellis or garden wire for climbing plants such as rambling roses, sweetpea or even beans to creep up the outside once you’re done, and finish it off with a string of solar-powered bulbs. The stylish shed-cum-summerhouse shown below is painted in Osmo natural oil paint from the Country Colour selection in Labrador Blue, priced around £25 for 0.75L.
14. Paint a holiday wall
Holiday walls are the new summer trend for Gen-Z and Millennials. Born out of lockdown, when holidays were tricky and good social media content lacking, many took to creating a ‘holiday wall’ in their garden as a backdrop for better photos. A holiday wall is a space in the garden or on a balcony that is transformed to look like a picturesque holiday spot.
15. Create a mini allotment
Create a mini allotment plot in your garden with a raised planter – it’s the perfect way to get the kids growing their own fruit and veg, or for those with compact gardens to grow-their-own lettuce. Order the stackable small raised bed kit, shown below, for just £16 from B&Q. Stackable and modular, you can expand you garden allotment patch as you get more green fingered. Add a mesh tunnel cover (£28) to help keep pests off your patch.