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3 DIY Projects for Your Edinburgh Home During Lockdown Part 3 – The Garden

The third and final part of our blog – 3 DIY projects for your Edinburgh home – could not have come at a better time. The subject matter of this one is the garden and, as most people will know by now, lockdown is due to be eased slightly from this Thursday 28th May with garden centres being allowed to reopen. Plus, the weather in Edinburgh will remain dry for the remainder of the week and temperatures will reach the low twenties with little chance of rain.  But, that’s enough of our Wincey Willis-type predictions (for those of you who remember her); what it does mean however, is that we have great weather for getting active in the garden for some essential maintenance, or for simply passing the time with some small projects to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling of satisfaction.

Also as we begin to enter Phase 1 of the Scottish Government route map for easing lockdown you can invite family members or friends from one other household, who have perhaps been cooped up in a flat for the last few weeks, to enjoy your garden with you – with social distancing measures in place of course. So, it’s understandable that you would want your garden to look its best.

Here then are 3 great tips from Edinburgh builder Mackenzie Hughes for making the most of your garden during lockdown. 

1. Be creative

Lockdown has forced us to make the most of what we have and explore our creativity, whether it’s discovering hidden hairdressing talents – tested out on the bearded collie first, much to its annoyance –  or applying to become a contestant on Bake-Off when that one in a dozen soufflés didn’t collapse. The good news is that when it comes to the garden there are endless opportunities to let your creativity run wild. Here are just a few suggestions:

The zoned garden

As specialists in period home restoration and conversions we at Mackenzie Hughes appreciate that certain rooms in the home can be ‘segmented’ to create different functional areas, or zones, while still achieving an open plan look. For example, you can create a separate dining ‘room’ in a large kitchen by simply adding an island unit which acts as a perceived divider between one zone and the next. Or, change the floor surface material from one area to another to add contrast. The same principles can be used in the garden.

Depending on the size of your garden you could create a relaxing area with seating placed in such a way as to allow people to stick to the 2 metres social distancing guidelines. Another area could be left wild – the ideal place for the hammock or breakfasting table, while yet another ‘zone’ could be for evening dining complete with log burner to keep you warm as the sun goes down. By using large planters or various ground coverings – stones, slabs or bark you can create the broken plan garden which is functional and beautiful to look at too.   

Put pallets to good use

Speaking of seating, wooden pallets can be used for numerous garden projects such as laying a simple base layer for a decking area in a little nook which gets most of the sun throughout the day. Or, you can try your hand at making planters or outdoor pallet furniture. Keep your eye on your local Facebook ‘for sale’ pages as people often offer them for free or call your local garden centre and ask if they have any to spare that you can pick up. There are numerous websites dedicated to the subject to give you inspiration and here are just a few ideas from Homebase.

Combine natural and man-made materials

You can add some quirky touches by combining natural and man-made materials. For example a stroll in the woods or down by the beach for your daily exercise can yield some goodies such as logs from cut-down trees or driftwood which can be used to create natural borders between one garden zone and another. And by making a hollow in the centre of your driftwood or logs and planting some small flowers you can give a splash of colour too. The addition of man-made materials in the shape of terracotta pots and old watering cans filled with plants and flowers can be an effective contrast.  

If you would like to know more about making your own driftwood planter click here

The professional touch

There are also many homeowners who love to spend time in their gardens but would prefer to have a professional landscape company to redesign it and a gardener maintain it on a regular basis. The good news is in stage 1 of the easing of lockdown, gardeners and landscape designers will be permitted to start back to doing what they do best. 

For some other ideas and inspiration on garden design including input from a professional landscape company click here to read one of our previous blogs. 

The photo above shows a joint project between Mackenzie Hughes, Silverflowe Design and David Blaikie Architects

2. Attend to outbuildings

A small glimpse into the dovelight-by-the-sea project by Mackenzie Hughes

By outbuildings we mean sheds and summerhouses. When the weather is dry it’s the perfect time to take care of any necessary repairs such as a leaking roof or windows and a quick lick of paint will brighten them up no end. Cuprinol makes a range of colour paints that will protect wood for up to 6 years without further treatment and it can also be used on other surfaces. If you don’t currently have a summerhouse but are thinking of investing in one, they can provide a wonderful place to escape to in the evening with a G&T and a good book. Ask a qualified electrician to install some sockets and light fittings to add to its versatility too.

Your shed may need some maintenance too, but another good idea is to de-clutter it. Local recycling centres will be open again soon although the expected queues may well make you think twice about visiting them straight away; so, why not have a yard sale to get rid of what you don’t need as long as you stick to social distancing advice?     

3. Cooking, heating, lighting

Cooking

With (hopefully) warm days for the foreseeable future… even in Edinburgh, and lockdown still in force for many people for the next few weeks, we may well be spending more time in the garden for longer periods. And when your family members come to visit for the first time since lockdown began what would be a warmer welcome than to fire up the barbecue for a spot of socially distanced lunch. If your experience of BBQs up until this point has been to endure cremated sausages and dried-up, shop-bought burgers then stick with us as there is so much more to eating alfresco than the usual clichéd fayre. Fresh fish and shellfish taste so much better when cooked outdoors…even mussels and oysters are ready to cook in their own personal little frying pans. And, don’t forget the veggies which are also delicious when barbecued. 

If you would like to find out more about grilling seafood on a BBQ here is an excellent blog you can click into and read. 

Which type of BBQ?

Whether you choose a gas, electric or charcoal barbecue is down to personal preference but if you are a die-hard traditionalist here are a few tips to follow for healthier grilling:

  • Forego the artificial firelighters in exchange for natural wood wool. This will eradicate the paraffin smell, are inexpensive to buy and are much easier to light. They can also be used in a wood burning fire or chimenea.
  • Cooking at high temperatures on a charcoal BBQ can cause fats and juices to hit the coals and cause flare ups which can release unwanted HCA chemicals. Read this article by Time online magazine for some tips to reduce this and enjoy healthier grilling.
  • Buy good quality lumpwood charcoal from a local company and learn BBQ basics for using direct and indirect

Finally, as the day turns to night, but you are not yet ready to call it a day, your garden will need some light. Here, your options can range from professionally installed outdoor lights to simple solar lighting available from most garden centres and DIY stores. However, using light effectively is an artform so here are some tips from Houzz to get you started.

Heating

As the sun goes down you may still want to stay outdoors. Therefore, a heat source of some description is a must to keep you and your guests warm. If you decide to invest in a chimenea you may want to choose one which radiates heat to every direction which means your guests can sit opposite you – at least 2 metres away – and still take advantage of the shared heat source. A chimenea such as La Hacienda from The Range is a perfect example. And, Firepits UK have, as the name would suggest, a fine range of firepits if you can’t resist the urge to roast a marshmallow or two.

Lighting

Finally, as the day turns to night, but you are not yet ready to call it a day, your garden will need some light. Here, your options can range from professionally installed outdoor lights to simple solar lighting available from most garden centres and DIY stores. However, using light effectively is an artform so here are some tips from Houzz to get you started.

We hope you enjoyed part 3 of our three-part blog on DIY projects for your Edinburgh home during lockdown. If you missed the first two parts you can catch part 1 on property exterior by clicking here and part 2 on your property’s interior by clicking here. If you have any questions on anything you have read, or simply want to ask us some questions on converting or restoring your property please get in touch.

Enjoy your summer, from the team at Mackenzie Hughes.

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