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How to make your garden a cool haven this summer

As summer temperatures rise, staying cool in the garden becomes more of a challenge. We’re all aware of the dangers of too much sun, so here’s some practical steps you can take to stay cool outside.

Provide shade

It’s no coincidence that houses and gardens in hotter Mediterranean countries look a little different to ours. Bougainvillea-covered terraces providing natural shade, shuttered windows allowing the breeze in but keeping the sun’s rays out and cool stone flooring all feature in scenes of foreign travel.

While we may not be able to recreate the perfect holiday villa here in the UK, we can at least build in some of these features to our own gardens. A roofed gazebo, a well-placed bench under a tree or even a temporary awning can provide vital shade and acts as a welcome retreat when temperatures rise. For dining or seating areas in full sun, opt for a large, pivoting parasol.

Add a water feature

Water of any kind has a cooling effect on the immediate surrounding area, and the sound of running water can be incredibly soothing. With solar-powered water features now much more affordable, it can be relatively easy to introduce water into most gardens, even if it’s just in the form of a mini solar sphere or cascade. If you’re lucky enough to have a pond, adding a seating area nearby makes sense, and it allows you the joy of trailing warm hands in cool water.

Adopt Mediterranean timings

Eating a large meal at lunchtime, in the full heat of the sun, is a sure-fire way to induce sleepiness, and if you add a glass of wine into the mix, you can easily risk dehydration. In warmer climates, breakfast is taken early, lunch is light and accompanied by plenty of water, and dinner is a much later affair, only embarked upon once the sun has set – and, of course, a siesta is factored in to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Eating your main meal once it’s cooler means you’re at less risk, and if you’re going to drink, then spritzers, Pimm’s with plenty of lemonade and weaker Italian and Spanish beers will keep your overall unit total low.

Break out the paddling pool

Dousing yourself in cold water is a tried-and-tested way of combatting high temperatures and can also be great fun, so why not embrace your inner child and join the kids in the paddling pool? If that’s a step too far, then a damp towel around the neck might be a more dignified option. A cool shower can also help if you find yourself feeling overheated, and remember to keep bedroom curtains closed to keep the room as cool as possible, so you have somewhere to go to escape the heat.

Finally, do any heavy gardening jobs either early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid working in full sun. Use the middle of the day to hop into a hammock in a shaded corner, have an iced drink in hand and chill in the shade.

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