Although the UK is still in winter, it doesn’t hurt to look ahead to hopefully what will be a good summer this year. The MET office has forecasted that 2023 will have a hot summer, even hotter than last year.
So, while it may be too early to get excited about barbecues, there is no reason that you can’t start planning any improvements to your garden. To make certain additions to your garden such as paving or patios, you will need to wait until the ground is softer, and the weather warmer.
However, while the days are short and the evenings longer you might want to spend some time planning some changes to your outdoor space. And in turn, you could end up with a place to socialise with your friends, neighbours, and family once spring and summer arrive.
Why make improvements to your outdoor areas?
When the pandemic arrived, it brought with it certain restrictions on socialising and travel. Many people were told to work from home, and lockdowns were imposed on the nation more than once.
Gardens, therefore, took on higher importance as places to enjoy some fresh air, and spend time with family – albeit in controlled bubbles. During these periods, more people started gardening as a hobby and making improvements to their back and front yards.
It was reported by Paving Shopper that there was an increase in people making garden upgrades such as paths, drives, and patios. Not only did this help to make homeowners’ gardens more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing, but it also added to the value of the homes.
Gardens are considered highly important to home buyers and can help to increase the selling price and the speed of a sale.
How can you turn your garden into a summer party venue?
The UK doesn’t enjoy as much sun as other parts of the world, and perhaps that’s why it is so important to the British to make the most of it. For comparison, the UK has just over 1,400 hours of sun a year. Perth in Australia has 3,200.
Maybe this is why many people might already be putting in place plans to make as much use of their gardens as possible this coming summer.
Clearly, you will need an area that works as a gathering area, and possibly for seating also. The space you have is going to be a big determiner of what you can or can’t do here.
As mentioned above, patios and decking both became popular during lockdowns as DIY enthusiasts decided to make improvements to their landscaping.
Add a patio
You have many choices when it comes to materials and style for a patio, and no longer does it have to be made from straightforward square paving slabs. Concrete, brick, flagstone, porcelain, or a choice of mixed materials can be used to create an attractive outdoor area. A patio might be a better idea than decking due to timber shortages in recent times.
Not only are patios useful for gatherings, but they can add up to 12% to the value of your home when you sell. Patios are said to have an 80% to 100% return on the money invested in them.
Or install decking
You can see a similar ROI on decking as you would with a patio if the construction is well done, and quality materials are used. There are far more options for this type of garden addition now, and you’ll even have to decide on what colour to pick for decking.
One advantage of decking over a patio is that you can build it with slightly raised areas and incorporate steps that may suit some gardens and homes more. Lighting can be added also to ensure that your party carries on into the evening.
Add a garden room
While a garden room might not be big enough to host a summer party as such, it will have other benefits. A garden room will add up to 7% to the value of your home, and provide an area that can be used to entertain small groups any time of the year. Especially useful in the UK where the weather can change with little notice.
Alternatively, build an outdoor social area. This could look like a standard room but without being completely enclosed by walls. This creates an al-fresco area to chill in while others gather near the barbecue area, or on the patio.
Convert your existing shed into a mini-pub
There have been several stories in the media, and YouTube videos about sheds being turned into bars. One British couple spent £500 converting their shed into a workable pub in only 3 days. Yet, there are other instructional resources explaining how this can be done for just £150, and in only a day.
Having a functioning pub with a minibar and serving hatch will certainly add a talking point to your garden party. Just don’t start charging your guests for their drinks unless you have an alcohol licence.
Install a BBQ area
Having a fixed barbecue area is a popular addition to gardens in countries such as Australia, South Africa, and the US. In the UK perhaps not so much.
Nevertheless, having a barbecue under a covered area provides a great way to cook outdoors and feed your guests. This can be added to a paved area of the garden, for instance, it could be incorporated as part of a patio.
Don’t forget garden furniture
Having a neat and attractive patio can provide you with benefits for years to come, but you’ll need somewhere to sit and serve drinks and food also.
Quality garden furniture makes a good investment and can go with you when you move home. You might also want to consider some outdoor heating, and perhaps an overhead canopy that can provide lighting.
Do you need to obtain planning permission for your deck or patio?
Some garden improvements may need planning permission. For example, if you are planning to pave over a front garden you may need to visit the Planning Portal or your local council for advice and permission to do so.
Most garden projects such as adding gazebos or landscaping won’t need planning permission in the UK. However, bigger projects may need permission so it is worth checking if yours comes under any regulations.
Consider safety for your garden improvements
If your prime concern when making changes to your garden is for increased social events, then you should put some thought into the safety of your guests.
Consider your friends that have young children. When laying paving stones or making walkways make sure they are suitable for those with prams or buggies. Ponds present a hazard as do swimming pools. Outdoor lighting can be used to illuminate these areas along with steps on decks and pathways.
Solar lights are a good choice too even if the UK doesn’t enjoy as much sunshine as other countries. Garden solar lights don’t require electricity from the mains so they don’t need cables. This makes them much safer and less of a trip hazard.
Adding a feature to a garden can add a talking point, such as a fountain. But, to make a party or social event you will need space for people to gather. A mini-pub made from your existing shed could work well. Or go for something more traditional such as a patio or deck.
Using modern paving styles to create pathways will add aesthetic value to your garden, and you could go further by building an Alfresco room for more intimate gatherings on summer evenings. Don’t forget to make some kind of shaded area for those hot days that have been promised by the MET.