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10 ways to improve your city garden or balcony

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Summer's a-coming and we can't help but fantasize about how our neglected weed-filled patch of green that passes as a "garden" will somehow be magically transformed into a sun-soaked sanctuary and place of solace, with gorgeous flowers all around.

Gardening takes effort and investment but there are a few quick fixes out there for those of you who barely have time to blink, let alone dig out your gloves and trowel. From creative plant presentation to DIY herb gardens and the strategic use of candles, hammocks and water features, here are ten easy and fuss-free ways to give your garden a makeover. Get stuck in!

Photos: Rex Features and Pinterest

  • Grab some geraniums

    Geraniums will add a dash of Mediterranean cheer to your patch and they're versatile and easy-ish to maintain. Use them in blocks of red and pink in window boxes, hanging baskets or trailed down flights of steps. These plants love dry, frost-free environments - see here for more tips.

  • Show off your garden tools

    Instead of hiding your spades and watering cans away in a dusty shed, flaunt them - as with this lovely snap from Pinterest. Give your shed door a lick of paint (think deep blues, greens or violets) and attach pegs and shelving to hang your tools from. Add in a sunflower or two, a string of onions and a basket of flowers and you'll have yourself a rustic garden montage.

  • Hang a hammock

    There's no more sublime pleasure than hanging out in a hammock on a sunny afternoon. And if you don't have trees to hang it on, there are plenty of free-standing models out there - like this cream design from Amazon (£149.99), which will add a subtle Balinese beach vibe to your backyard.

  • Create a herb garden

    There's nothing not to love about herb gardens - they look pretty, smell delicious and you can use them for dinner. Grab some mint, thyme, rosemary and some variegated lemon balm and plant them in a sunny, sheltered area; (see here for tips). If you're short on time you can arrange shop-brought herb plants decoratively in terracotta bowls and pots.

  • Transform your shed

    This shed comes ready-made from B&Q (£490) but you can easily buy a basic kit to build your own and transform it into a mellow summertime reading space, with paint, lattice fencing, mirrors and cushions.

  • Get a water feature

    No garden is complete without some kind of element of water, be it a tub filled with tadpoles or Japanese water stones. You can create your own one from an overturned pot or bowl, strategically placed and shrouded by flowers. Or you can buy it in; this Grecian pouring bowls creation from Argos is reasonably priced compared to most, at £109.99, combines traditional styling with a mellow flow.

  • Plant a climber or wall shrub

    They take a little time to grow but a beautiful wall climber can add a whole new dimension to your garden, especially if you're limited on space. Ceanothus (pictured) is quite a slow-grower but it does look lovely when it blooms from red buds to vibrant blue flowers in spring. Clematis or Daphne bholua are other good choices; the Royal Horticultural Society has more tips.

  • Turn your dresser into a plant beds

    Now this is a nifty trick, courtesy of EclecticallyVintage.com. Give an old dresser a new coat of outdoor paint, and line the drawers with bin bags and create a few holes though each bag and bottom of the drawer for drainage. Add bricks in the back of each drawer to weigh it down, heap in soil, then select the plants or flowers of your choice.

    Check the Eclectically Vintage website for more details.

  • Midnight garden

    Who can resist the balmy nighttime appeal of a candlelit garden? Transform your space into a romantic haven with a scattering of giant candles and lanterns. We love these rustic outdoor candles from John Lewis (£15) set in rich terracotta clay pots - they give off a gentle citrus scent, don't weather and look good in daylight, too.

  • Rejoice in reclaimed wood

    Reclaimed wood can be put to a multitude of purposes in your back garden, from plant holders to fencing or a simple decking area. You can use paint and varnish to upcycle old wooden crates or boxes in creams, light blues and golds. See here for a picture guide on how to create decking from recycled wooden pallets (pallets piled on top of each other can also be used as impromptu herb gardens).

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