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Beat the heat in a shady garden

The summer heat wave continues unabated and we are all looking for a cool, shady spot to relax and beat the heat indoors.


Whether you blame it on El Niño or global warming, there's no denying that our summers are getting hotter every year. This summer is proving to be one for the record books and many are finding it hard to keep cool as temperatures soar day by day.

 Even in the evenings there is little respite for the heat and I thank my lucky stars that I recently installed a decent ceiling fan in the bedroom and lounge.

The best place to ride out the heat wave is a cool, shady spot in the garden, and if you don't already have a place to sit and relax perhaps you should consider planning one - even if it is only a small space - since hot summers are going to be here for the future.

Shade is definitely a 'must have' for any outdoor area that you set up. Not only are the sun's rays extremely harmful these days, a shady spot will be easier to keep cool.

There are so many ways to set up a comfortable seating or dining area outdoors, and it pretty much depends on how much you have to spend as to what you can afford to do. If you take the do-it-yourself route it will obviously cost a lot less than having someone do it for you, as long as you have the necessary skills and DIY savvy.

Builders Warehouse, timber merchants and garden centres offer a varied selection of materials that you can use to erect a shady structure in the garden. Or for those without any DIY skills, even something a simple as a large patio umbrella will create enough shade to park outdoors.

This year we have not only had to worry about the heat, but also water restrictions. Using a mister is a great way to cool down a hot patio, but with water restrictions we should look at other alternatives that don't waste (or use) as much water.

Shade cloth, bamboo blinds, even sheer synthetic fabrics, are excellent at closing off a roofed patio. But even if you don't have a roofed off patio, today's gazebos and shade structures come in larger sizes at reasonable cost and used to set up a cool spot outdoors. Check out what's on offer at your local Builders or outdoor outlet and what fits in with your budget.

Dressing up an outdoor space with light, airy fabrics in cool colours will go a long way towards making any outdoor area feel cooler than it is. Sheer fabrics help to provide some shade during the hottest time of the day without blocking out cooling breezes.

If you don't have a pool, or even space for a full-on pool in the garden, even a small 'cuddle puddle' or jacuzzi will offer a refreshing, cool place to take the edge of the heat.

While water restrictions will probably prohibit this for the time being, it's definitely something to think about for the future. This past summer my small pool has not only provided respite from the heat, but also a place to fill up a bucket with water for flushing toilets when the water supply was cut off due to lack of pressure!



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