There are so many ways you can use the most common items around the house to revamp your outdoor space. Rethink the every day and make something special, with some quick fixes that last. We’ve compiled a few tips that are sustainable, budget-friendly, and will make any outdoor space feel cozier.
These are a surprisingly stylish way to stretch out summer nights, and let you read and recline outdoors long after sunset. You could opt for glimmers of light that look like a starry sky, or if you’re feeling ambitious, create an ornate decorative design inspired by textile or coppersmithing patterns.
- Rescue any cans you want to use before they end up in the recycling bin, peel off the labels, and give them a thorough clean.
- If you decide you want to plan out your design in advance, sketch it out on a piece of paper the same size as your chosen can. Lined or squared paper - like a school blotter - could be extra handy for this if you’re looking to make your design symmetrical, and to help you make sure the holes will be spaced regularly apart.
- Fill the cans with water and pop them in the freezer overnight. This is to make them sturdy enough to keep their shape while you’re doing the metal tooling.
- Tape your design (if you’re using one) around the can, and place it onto a folded up towel or hoodie. This will stop it skating around your work surface, and soak up any ice chips.
- Line up a thin sharp nail with one of your drawn dots and gently hammer a few times until it breaks through the tin. A top tip to make sure that nails stay still whilst you're hammering is to grasp the nail with pliers instead of between your fingers. This way you’ll never miss the mark.
- Use this method to pierce all the holes that make up your design.
- When you’ve finished, run the can under hot water to melt the ice inside and then leave to thoroughly dry.
- You’re good to go! Make sure the tins are on a fire-safe surface, then place a votive candle inside. Sit back and watch them sparkle.
Not all of us have enough outdoor space to have a compost heap - or the time to shoo away the garden pests that gatecrash it for dinner. If this is the case, there are plenty of small scale ways to give your plants some extra nourishment.
Here are our top ingredients for giving your plants the equivalent of a superfood smoothie. You can use any of these three elements separately or grind them into a powder together.
1. Crushed eggshells
Just like it does for us, calcium found in eggshells helps plants grow strong and has the added bonus of helping to prevent rot in your vegetables. Crushed eggshells also can be used as a natural alternative to poison pellets for pests like slugs and snails. Sprinkled around plants they are an effective deterrent - to slugs and snails moving over eggshells feels like walking barefoot on broken glass, which they’d rather avoid...
To make the mixture:
- Rinse the eggshells and dry them in any of the following ways: -
- Microwave them, dry them in a container in a spot or on a radiator, or in an oven-safe container which you can place at the bottom of the oven whilst it’s still hot after cooking. All of these methods will kill off any bacteria or smells.
- Crush and grind the eggshells into a powder and sprinkle wherever needed.
- You can also add a pinch of some extra finely ground powder to your bird feeder, which helps to strengthen their eggs!
2. Coffee groundsAfter your morning brew, the used coffee grounds can be added to your soil to act as a fertilizer. Producing nitrogen as they break down, coffee grounds also improve the drainage and water retention of your soil for happier plants.
3. Banana peels
Banana skins cut up very small are also a very great addition to improve soil quality, with a great cocktail of nutrients to help plants develop their fruit. If fruit flies or other pests are attracted by the smell, you can bury them below the soil surface, or dry them in the oven or in the sun first.
Many of us are currently trying to reshape our daily habits and mold them into more sustainable forms, working out how we can be more self-sufficient. One of the first steps is trying to eat local, seasonal produce to shorten the supply chain.
That’s where this magic trick comes in - which allows you to regrow vegetables from your kitchen scraps.
Carrot leaves are edible and welcome addition to salads. To harvest them, submerge the leftover tops of carrots in water and leave somewhere sunny, and pluck the leaves when they’re ready.
Salad onions and leeks are also super easy to regrow:
- When you’re cutting them up to include in a meal, save the 2 inches at their bases, with the roots, and put in water.
- Leave them somewhere sunny for about ten days and watch them sprout!
- Change the water regularly, and cut the green shoots off as they grow.
- When they’ve sprouted a few inches, pot them in a container or in a plant bed and make sure they have plenty of light and water.
There are tons of other vegetables you can get second helpings from - including bok choy, sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes, celery, and lettuce.
D - Start growing some show-stopping succulents
Exotic succulents come in an incredible array of species, offering a hypnotizing medley of colors, textures, and shapes wherever they grow.
Plenty are very easy to care for if you haven’t quite found your green-fingered streak yet. Depending on the climate where you live, you can create groupings of different varieties in pots or planter boxes which can be brought indoors if you’re worried about how they’ll fare in long winters.
Aeoniums also known as houseleeks, have fleshy leaves arranged in captivating rosettes, and flower from late winter into spring. You could contrast these with some Haworthia, whose spiky leaves look like aloe. Some varieties have a mottled or spotted look, whilst others have eye-catching zebra stripes!
Support local businesses by finding licensed plant nurseries and growers and buying living succulent cuttings to get started with. Just as an expert florist may do, many nurseries narrow down the overwhelming options for you, by sending collections of ten or so carefully chosen varieties of succulent cuttings together. This would also make a great gift idea for your nearest and dearest as a thoughtful alternative to a short-lived bouquet.
Do your research as to what kind of soil different succulents like to find the ones most suitable for where you intend to keep them. Whether you’re wanting to plant them in a gravelly rock garden, planter box, or using them as clever ground cover for dry areas or rock walls there’ll be species best suited to each.
E - Paint your pots
There are endless ways to give terracotta pots simple spruce up. Terracotta is still the best choice to house all kinds of plant life as it’s porous and allows moisture and oxygen from the outside in, making sure it gets to all the hard to reach roots.
I’ve chosen these two options because they’re incredibly easy - you can use spray paint, acrylic paint or leftover ends or sample pots of house paint:
- Use masking tape or painter’s type to create a chevron or zigzag pattern
- Create a color block at the top or bottom of the pot
Different tints of the same color always look great when grouped together and can be easily done by adding different amounts of white to the base color.
The earthy color of terracotta is a great natural neutral tone, complementing any plant it houses, and pretty much any color of paint you choose, so you needn’t cover it completely.
Thanks for reading.
Josie from Essen Team