Money-saving ways to jazz up your garden patio for summer parties

ITV’s This Morning gardening expert Daisy Payne looks at planting ideas and cut flower displays.

There are numerous ways to improve the look of your patio this summer
Bunches of sweet peas and candles on a patio table in summer (Alamy/PA) There are numerous ways to improve the look of your patio this summer (Alamy Stock Photo)

If you’re thinking of hosting a summer garden party if the weather ever perks up, there are money-saving ways you can make your patio look prettier on the day.

So says Daisy Payne, ITV’s This Morning gardening expert, whose new book Start Growing contains easy, budget-friendly gardening projects for beginners.

Bag some bedding plants

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Payne suggests investing in some instant colour bedding plants which come in an array of shades and can be low cost.

“They instantly add a lovely feel to any space,” she says. “There are all sorts at this time of year – pansies, geraniums, and so many lovely colours to pack into pots.”

If you’re short on space, consider planting some hanging baskets, which will make the most of your vertical space, and if you don’t want bedding plants, think about replacing them with herbs to create a scented space and add flavour to your summer dishes, she adds.

Upcycle old furniture and containers

(Alamy Stock Photo)

“Don’t be afraid to upcycle items that could be used as pots – you can get quite creative with that. Going to car boot sales or upcycling furniture, like drawers from your house, can be great. It’s so cheap and adds character to space,” she suggests.

Invest in an outdoor rug

“Outdoor rugs are really popular and trendy. If your old patio slabs are annoying you and you haven’t got the time to pressure-wash them or treat them, you can get yourself a really colourful outdoor rug and cover up the eyesores,” she advises. “It lifts the space you are in, particularly if you haven’t gone mad on planting.”

Create a low-cost water feature

“You can do this with really small containers with a solar-panelled water pump. It adds a lovely feeling of relaxation to a space. It doesn’t need to be expensive. You may see one on sale at a garden centre or DIY store.”

You’ll need a pot with no drainage holes, a smaller water-tight pot which fits inside the larger pot and a solar-panelled water pump placed in that. Place a pot saucer with a hole in the centre that fits over the top of the pump (the trickle of water will come out of the hole), and stones to decorate around it.

Dress your patio table

(Jason Ingram)

“If you have a garden with flowers and want to put a table piece together, you can cut flowers from your own garden and add some evergreen sprigs to the display.

“I had some cut dahlias and wildflowers grown from seed. It brings a table together when you are hosting. And flowers blooming now – roses and peonies – make a beautiful centrepiece, albeit peonies are very brief.

“If you buy eucalyptus from your local florist and then dry it out, it can last for years in a dried form and makes a big impact.”

Create an ambience with garden lighting

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Payne recommends solar-panelled festoon lighting potentially to be placed along fence posts, to remove the difficulty and cost of having electricity installed.

“You can also get some lovely spike lights. I have some down the pathway of my garden, which show off the silhouette of the garden as dusk falls.

“I love a lantern for the table top or for hanging and I have a lot of scented candles, which bring a nice feel to the garden as the evening draws in and is useful for keeping some of the bugs away.”

Enjoy edible flowers

Bring some botanicals to your summer drinks with ice cubes containing flowers, and some flowers such as violas and nasturtiums to add colour and flavour to your salads.

“Herbs also work really well in drinks, including rosemary sprigs or mint.”

Save money on tools

You don’t need loads of tools to give your patio a floral boost, says Payne. If you have a patio or even a balcony garden which is likely to consist mostly of pots you might not need any tools at all.

“All you need to plant up in pots is a good peat-free compost and the willingness to get your hands dirty.” While a watering can might be useful, when you first start you can always use jugs or beakers to hold water while you get to grips with things.

Start Growing by Daisy Payne is published by Ebury, priced £14.99. Available now.