Summer is fast approaching and I am very much looking forward to sitting in the warm sun in my garden watching my children run around, knowing the mess can stay outdoors (for the most part!) But are there ways you can declutter and simplify your garden? This is one of the challenges I have given myself this year.
Creating a simple and clutter-free garden is easy if you follow these three steps:
- Declutter and minimise your outdoor equipment
- Create a simple to maintain and organised outdoor space
- Have some multi-purpose outdoor storage for your garden clutter
Decluttering Your Garden
Once you have conquered minimising your indoor space, look outdoors to see where you can stretch your simplifying methods.
Be honest with yourself and implement Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering outdoors. Ask yourself if the items brings joy or add value to your life. If not, donate or sell it. A purge will clear your mind as well as your garden, and allow you to focus on what brings value to your outdoor space.
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If you have children, it is more than likely you will have an array of wonderful, yet large equipment to store. Play equipment like ride ons, sand pits, slides, water tables, and swing sets can pile up. I could go on… but it might send me into a cold sweat.
Though a godsend in the summer months, these items can be quite an eye sore. If left to bare the elements, they can fade and become damaged so it’s important to store them somewhere safe, particularly over the winter months.
If some of the toys are age appropriate, consider selling them to another family to give yourself some extra cash. Ask your children to help you decide to give them some authority and future responsibility in taking care of the garden.
I love outdoor furniture. Rattan seating areas around a fire pit make for a cosy summer evening. But some are difficult to maintain, or simply go unused.
If you have a project that you have been meaning to upcycle for your garden, decide now if you are actually going to do it. That old pallet could be turned into a gorgeous planter. But will you ever make it? Make a decision and set a date for your project. Or if not, recycle it or give it to a friend who might have use for it somewhere.
Tools & Maintenance Equipment
If you are good at DIY, household tools are always a useful thing to have around. But if your shed is absolutely crammed with maintenance equipment then perhaps it’s time to take a look at what you should be keeping.
If you’re not the most handy person, why not leave it to the experts? It’s probably safer for your family and home in the long run and means that storing relevant equipment won’t be necessary.
Do you need a lawn mower if you have just a patio area? Perhaps you brought it with you during your last house move? Consider borrowing from a neighbour or family member in exchange for a cooked meal or similar favour.
Some larger items can be hired on a daily basis so there is no need to keep them in your own house to be used just one per year.
The Spring is a great time to tackle any wild areas of your garden. For me, that is the whole garden. Front and back.
Overgrown plants or weeds in plant beds are a good place to start. Tackle any unsightly bushes or hedges. Remove leaves that have accumulated from Autumn.
Remove any broken plant pots and replace them. If you have a greenhouse, remove any pieces of broken glass. Also, remove any dead vegetation for the new growing season.
Wash and refresh all soft furnishings like seat pads and cushions, which may have gotten damp in storage over the winter months.
It’s particularly important to clean up any plastics that have been blowing around your garden. These can get tangled up with wildlife and cause potential harm to them, as well as blowing out into the street and creating litter.
Bicycles littered our garden at one point. But we rarely used them so decided to bite the bullet and get rid. Our local area lets you hire a bicycle for the day relatively cheaply, so we decided that we value our outdoor space more. Perhaps you also have this issue and could sell them on for some extra cash.
Garages and sheds are the most commonly used storage options in our outdoor spaces (not sure if a garage is considered outside space in the U.S, but here in the UK it is) But storage rooms can become messy and unorganised. The sad thing is, these spaces are mostly used as a dumping ground.
Consider what you are storing in this room. Bikes, Maintenance Equipment, Furniture. Pile the items into the middle of the room and really assess everything. If you decide to keep it, put it away in a designated and organised space.
If you decide to discard an item, place it outside on the drive ready to be moved on the same day. Putting it back in the garage, even if stored to be moved on at a later date, you’re more likely to end up keeping it. Plus the room won’t look any more organised than when you began.
There are some great multi-purpose storage options available. Modern outdoor ottomans that have large storage capacity under the lid like this one on Amazon, can add style and function to your garden.
Simplify Your Garden
Once you have decluttered the excess items and equipment, then you can begin to re-evaluate your outside space. From a visual perspective, it may be beneficial to go back to bare bones and imagine your garden was a blank canvas. What is your ideal outdoor living space like?
Organising Your Outdoor Space
Assess the space you currently use in your garden. Even though outside, I still think it is important that every area of your space serve a purpose.
Make sure items like bins are out of eye sight. You can even build secluded areas to hide them and introduce an element of style with it.
Can you create a zone for a specific function? You could take a small area just for your children’s play equipment. Zones can sectioned off by using strategically implemented plant structures.
You can use different materials as dividers, like bark or gravel to set clear lines between areas and create more definition for your garden. It helps to clear the mind if everything isn’t cluttering the garden in one big space.
Decide what can be useful to you and design your space around your needs. Is an outdoor bar really a good use of space? Using that area to grow edibles instead will benefit you if you enjoy cooking and will save you money on store bought herbs and vegetables.
Does your garden throw off jungle vibes rather than a well tended paradise? Is everything overgrown and / or dying? Or are you simply a plant hoarder?
Assess the types of plants you have growing in your garden. Are they a good fit for your lifestyle. If you don’t consider yourself to be very green-fingered, then it might be worth re-assessing the types of plant currently established within your garden.
Choose low maintenance plants like shrubs, conifers and bulbs. Or maybe go for a wild flower meadow look? This will make your life simpler by not having to worry about plant maintenance constantly, allowing you more time to relax and simply enjoy your new outside space.
Do you have pets that live in your garden, like rabbits, guinea pigs, or even chickens? It’s important to take this space into account when considering simplifying your garden. You have to allow enough space for the animal to not be cooped up, but do you really want a rabbit run taking over your garden?
Keep items like straw and food in designated spaces or lockable feed containers to avoid attracting pests.
Organising Your Vegetable Garden
You can have your own vegetable planting area even if you garden isn’t the largest.
Plan it all out on paper before you begin. Maximise space where you can.
Raised planters around your fencing at the edge of your garden keep it looking clean and organised. You could even have tiered planters to make the most of the vertical areas around your yard. Add a trellis to your walls or fence panels to boost your growing space.
Make your Garden Eco-friendly
Can you recycle any old plant pots if you have an excess amount? Find an ethical method of discarding your garden plastics. Some garden centres will offer some kind of recycling scheme, or even your local authorities.
My favourite local centre The Urban Jungle is fighting it’s war against plastic and now only provide terracotta pots when selling their plants.
Create a compost bin
Another form of recycling, a compost bin is easier to start than you think. You can even start one if you don’t have a garden with a plastic tub and some newspaper, egg shells and worms!
It’s an easy way to discard food waste and other biodegradable items like cotton wool and paper. Kathryn has some generally great zero waste tips. Check her out!
Bug houses are a great way to add a cool minimalist decoration to your garden, or you can build your own as a crafting activity with your kids.
Bee hotels are so important for your garden. Bees are declining globally so it’s important everyone do their part if they can. Plant wildflowers nearby to encourage bees into your garden. I always place a small area of sugary water for bees on warm days.
Create hideaways for smaller animals like frogs and hedgehogs using small houses. These are great for the cooler months when some smaller creatures hibernate.
In essence, simplifying your garden area is all about imagining and manifesting our ideal outdoor space. When you decide what it might look like and what functions it could hold for your lifestyle, it will become easier to decide what needs to stay and what needs to go.
How do you simplify your outdoor space?