By Laura Firszt, Networx
Summer's here, and hopefully your yard (or balcony) is abloom. Enjoy the colorful beauty of your flowers and plants in the sunshine, but don't forget that evenings in the garden have a special charm all their own. Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your garden as the day draws to a close.
Safety and Comfort
What's your backyard pleasure after dark – a brisk jog or a leisurely stroll around the garden? Either way, you'll want to walk safely. Create a clear path through your grounds – possibly with help of stepping stones – and keep it free of branches and other debris. Check out our tips on natural mosquito bite prevention and treatment.
Plants and Pots
Choose some of your plants and pots to "shine" when the daylight has faded away. Mix in a good percentage of whites and light colors that will show up in the dark. Night-blooming flowers such as moonflower and evening primrose will add excitement to your afterhours garden.
Features that Appeal to the Nose and Ears
Although most gardens appeal primarily to the eyes, why not plan your outdoor space to delight other senses as well? Many of the night bloomers are also blessed with delightful perfumes; think evening scented stock and night blooming jasmine. An outdoor water feature can add soothing sounds. Try building your own fountain from repurposed materials such as old terra cotta pots. To make it eco-friendly, ensure that it circulates its water in a closed loop system.
Plan garden seating to accommodate lounging and relaxation. Chaises lounges and a hammock or two are recommended. A weather resistant table and chairs are important if you intend to dine outside on a regular basis. You might also want to station a buffet in a sheltered spot nearby, at least for the summer months, to conveniently store items like salt and pepper shakers, plates and spare tablecloths.
Consider the evening and nighttime vista from your garden. Position at least a portion of your seating so that garden visitors will be able to admire the spectacular sunsets over your vegetable patch or gaze dreamily up at the view of the moon and stars.
Speaking of dreamy, your post-twilight garden is the perfect spot for date night. You can save both money and gasoline by spending a starry-eyed evening right in your own backyard. Dress up in your best if that helps create a romantic mood, hire a babysitter and don't tell your kids where you are to be found.
When you're in the mood for socializing with a group, host an outdoor dinner party. Nothing says summer like a barbecue and there is quite an assortment of eco-friendly grilling possibilities, such as water- or solar-powered BBQs. Corn-burning grills are another clean, safe option using an easily renewable resource for fuel. If you often entertain in the garden, especially if you're the spontaneous type, keep a picnic basket or two handy in your kitchen, ready to use for carrying food outside.
Outdoor lighting will add to your enjoyment of the garden after the sun goes down. Solar lights are ideal for your yard if you live in a sunny area where they can recharge during the day. Or try making your own soy tea lights (cleaner burning than paraffin) to place in attractively decorated repurposed containers such as tin cans or jars. Especially in a state like Florida whose climate allows for outdoor living much of the year, you may want to have an electrician install energy-efficient LED garden lighting. Whatever system you select, be sure to avoid fire hazards or low hanging lights that someone could bump into.