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Living in your summer garden.

JUST like a room, once your garden is planned out, you need to furnish it, add storage, lighting and a few accessories to make it a room to live in.

Furnish the garden

Permanent furniture: Designed to stay outdoors all year round, hardwood or coated metal tables, chairs and benches tend to be more expensive but (with a little care) will last for years. They are best placed on hard surfaces as a permanent feature of you r garden. An alternative is built-in seats - many paving companies have ready-to-build kits for seats, planters or barbecues. Simply buy or make removable cushions to fit.

Portable furniture: Most gardens need some portable furniture as extras for guests. There's a huge choice of colour and style in wood, resin and aluminium. As long as you remember to bring the cushions in when it rains heavily, most will happily survive the summer months and a few light showers outside.

Portable furniture can be moved to follow sun or shade and tends to be cheaper to buy than permanent furniture, but needs storage over winter, so look for those that fold or stack.

Shade and shelter

As summers get hotter and we all become more aware of the damage the sun can do, shade becomes as important as catching the sun. Most seating, and especially eating arrangements, need to be shaded at times. Most shade arrangements will also give yousome protection from light showers.

Huge Eastern-style parasols provide perfect portable shade. Paul Reef's parasols range from 2m round, square or rectangular, from pounds 105, to a huge 3.6m parasol at pounds 395. A dining light system, from pounds 79.99, hangs globe bulbs from the under side of the parasol.

Add a pergola, gazebos or arbours over a seating area. Train climbers to provide natural, leafy shade.

Lighting

To use the garden on balmy summer evenings, you need to light it and if your seating and eating area is away from the house, you need to consider how to light the path to the area, as well as the area itself.

Storage

A garage or shed is suitable for storage, but as with any room, it makes sense to store things near to where they are needed. This is important with anything you'll be taking in and out on a daily basis, like cushions and parasols.

Take a tip from top experts...

MARK Cox, garden expert from B&Q, has many years' experience of advising unsure garden owners.

"Be honest about your level of interest and time you have to spend gardening. If you only step into it at the weekend, then steer clear of hanging baskets and containers, because these need watering every day. In a small garden, be careful about which sh rubs you choose.

"Remember, a garden is a dynamic thing, and whatever you plant now will have changed in two or three years time. Water features are attractive and relaxing.

"They take effort and a certain amount of expense to establish, but once installed there is not a huge amount of maintenance. On a patio area, lift three of four slabs and add a water feature there with a few small plants around it to add a bit of colour and softness.

"If a garden is new to you, you should really leave it for up to a year to see what's there, how the light is, and sunny or frosty patches."

For more DIY hints and tips see Perfect Home magazine. It's out now and costs pounds 1.70
COPYRIGHT 1998 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 31, 1998
Words:590
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