Many people in the UK have never had so much time on their hands, which is why a significant number are turning to their outdoor spaces. With trips to the shops restricted to buying daily essentials, many people are having to order their garden supplies online – and they may face more queueing in their quest to do so. DIY stores and seed suppliers alike have seen waiting times just to get onto their websites, with the public reporting significant delays in actually getting onto the websites run by the likes of Wickes or Suttons seeds.
What are people so keen to order? What is there to do in the garden while the coronavirus crisis continues to keep the public under lockdown for an extended period of time?
1. Grow your own
Increased demand and queueing times at the supermarket – combined with people having all this unprecedented extra time on their hands – have led many to think about growing their own fruit and vegetables.
Though some say it’s already a little late in the season to begin, others disagree, including respected gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh. In the May edition of Gardener’s World, Titchmarsh argues that plants will grow more quickly now the weather has warmed up, and that seeds planted in late April or May even have the potential to overtake those that began earlier in the year. From aubergines, courgettes and cucumbers, to chillies, peppers, tomatoes, salad leaves and herbs, many are spending their extra time in trying to grow plants that will yield fresh, natural produce later in the year.
2. Tidy it up
Before all that planting, watering and nurturing takes place, gardeners need to make sure there’s some space for all their new growing projects. When better to tackle an untidy greenhouse or overgrown corner than right now, while the weather is drier and warmer and you have more time than ever before?
Why not get rid of weeds and dead plants, and make way for some colourful new flowers, fruit and vegetables that will brighten up your outside space, as well as your plate? While you’re pulling out brambles and bindweed, take a good look around. Could you make better use of your outdoor area? What sort of plants would complement what is already flourishing in your garden this spring? It’s the perfect time to feed the lawn, plant some perennials and weed out what’s unwanted.
3. Firing up the barbecue
A word of warning here – some councils are asking locals not to have barbecues during the pandemic due to the possibility of smoke affecting people with breathing difficulties, so check the advice in your area first.
A garden is not all about toil, of course. After a hard day’s work, there’s nothing better than kicking back with a long, cool drink as you light up the barbecue to prepare the evening’s repast.
Spring and summer 2020 are sure to bring more time to enjoy cooking outdoors, so perhaps it’s time to think about replacing that tired old charcoal barbecue that’s hard to light, and switch to cooking on gas. If there’s life in the old charcoal grill yet, maybe a new cleaning brush, set of tools or a new cover are just what’d needed to make the most of your outdoor kitchen.
4. An outdoor lounge
Once that barbecue food is cooked and you’re getting ready to enjoy it, are you sitting comfortably? The time might just be nigh to replaced that tired, worn or uncomfortable garden furniture that has seen better days.
There are so many low maintenance sets available now, from a coffee set for two to a family dining table and chairs or a modular set that provides everyone with an outdoor lounge in which to relax on those fine summer nights. There’s so much more than tables, chairs and sofas too; you can now buy outdoor bean bags, hammocks and scatter cushions as well as sun beds, armchairs and benches.
5. Turn up the heat
It’s not only your barbecue that can be a source of heat when you’re spending time outside. There are all sorts of ways to warm up your garden when the weather gets a little chilly, meaning you don’t have to retreat back indoors when the temperature starts to drop. From chimeneas and fire pits to gas and electric garden heaters, there’s something to suit every kind of outdoor space. Whether that’s a spacious deck, a compact patio or a long, lush green lawn.
6. Beyond the plants
If you’re sprucing up your garden and want to create something truly unique, it might be time to think beyond what you plant. There are all sorts of other garden accessories on the market, such as clocks, weather vanes, ornaments and even wall art.
How could a few well-chosen accessories complement your outdoor space, making it seem more welcoming and like a true extension of your home? With all this extra time and the possibility of longer term social distancing measures, there’s never been a better time to turn your attention to improving your outside living areas.
7. The birds and the bees
It’s already being reported that nature is benefiting from lower pollution levels caused by the coronavirus lockdown, so why not give Mother Nature an extra helping hand by dedicating some time and resources to looking after the birds and the bees? Bird baths, feeders and tables can not only give our feathered friends a helping hand; they can also drastically improve your chances of spotting some of our more colourful garden visitors. From blue tits to goldfinches and robins, a whole spectrum of birdlife may be keen to drop into garden if you provide them with a reason to do so. The same goes for other winged creatures, so why not look into which plants attract butterflies, or how to create a bee house or bug hotel?
8. Work it
If you are working from home for the foreseeable future, why not set yourself up for a day or working outside when the weather permits? All you’ll need is a comfortable chair and some sort of surface to use as a desk, and you can fire up the laptop and go. Who knows how nature might inspire your creativity and even improve productivity, while you reap the health benefits of breathing the cleanest, freshest air we’ve enjoyed in decades?