How to stay cool in your garden this summer
Your garden at home is a place of tranquility and relaxation. It’s full of the plants you love, your comfortable seating, your lawn is your pride and joy and it’s where you and your loved ones get together to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.
But, having said that, summer can be a challenging time for us in the garden. Usually in the UK it’s a question of staying warm enough, but then, shocker, here comes a heatwave! OUr gardens here need a bit of planning to make them maximally useful throughout the spring, summer and autumn seasons. After all, it’s not ideal to have a beautiful spring time oasis that parches up to a straw like barrenness by July, only to then feel bare and parched until the rains of October come around.
As we are a couple of days into this year’s surprisingly warm temperatures- high 30’s here in the North West – here are my tips on how to stay cool in your garden this summer.
It’s never too late to start taking action, until of course, you are bang in the middle of a heatwave and haven’t got much going on in your garden. Well, these tips will help you to plan for the next time a heatwave hits, if not for right now!
Plan out your garden space ONLY once you know where the sun shines at all the times of the day and evening. Put your shed in an area you don’t require for anything else.
Create shaded areas with trees, shrubs or trellises. You might even consider putting in a summer house if you like to have a permanently cool area to retreat to.
Add your flower beds and planting areas around where you plan to spend most of your time in the summer. If you are likely to add a paddling pool for three months of the year, perhaps plan some decking to put it on, or an area of grass you don’t mind replanting in autumn.
Add water features to your garden such as ponds, fountains and waterfalls. Installing a fountain or water feature isn’t just cooling, but it also an attractive focal point for your garden. These days plenty of them use a minimal amount of water and electricity thanks to circulating solar pumps.
Plant deciduous trees to provide shade during the summer months and let them lose their leaves during winter when temperatures are cooler. They will also add a craggy splendour to your winter garden, as well as the delicious shade in the warmer months.
Consider adding an outdoor shower- a la Wim Hof! He swears by a cold shower throughout the year, which is not for me. But, a cool shower outdoors in the heat could be just the ticket. It doesn’t need to be fully plumbed in either, why not try out a camping shower?
Things you can do now
Buy or make a parasol or a large garden umbrella. Perfect for catching shade when the sun moves around and the trees aren’t cutting it any more.
Erect a large sail shade against the side of your house. Beautiful and stylish too.
Get a paddling pool. Not the most eco-friendly solution thanks to the throwaway nature of this sort of plastic, but something to consider, particularly if you have hot and sticky children in tow.
Turn on your water sprinkler while you are standing beneath it. Again, not great for conserving water, but on occasion, and if your plants need it as well, why not indulge yourself?
Buy some large potted palms and add them to your garden. You can move them around, see where they provide most shade, and when it cools down a bit, you can plant them up.
Plant shade-loving plants like hostas, ferns and philodendrons. Though these don’t actually provide any shade, their waxy green leaves just look cool. And when it’s hot, the slugs are less likely to be out to make a meal of your pretty hostas.
No Garden? No Problem!
This summer, the best way to keep cool is by staying in a shady spot in your garden, frantically gulping down iced beverages, but what if you don’t have a garden or backyard? Many flats and apartments have a balcony these days, and these can be a fabulously cool place to hang out.
Keep your largest windows and doors open to catch the fresh breeze that will keep you cool and relaxed.
Depending on the size of your balcony, add some potted trees or bushes that will provide some shade for you and your guests. A yucca can be surprisingly shady, as can some potted palms. Anything with a thick green leaf has a coolness to it, I find.
The furniture you choose for your balcony will affect how cool you keep – anything plastic tends to get very hot and sticky- we can all remember the days of wearing shorts as children and losing a layer of thigh skin to a hot vinyl seat…
Add a parasol or umbrella is you don’t get much shade from your balcony at certain times of day. Make sure it is well weighted down to avoid Mary Poppins moments.
– And of course, don’t forget about those refreshing drinks like lemonade or iced tea, or maybe even a cocktail…