How to Make your Garden Work for You

A garden is an extension of the home, and can even be viewed as another room in the house. It is there to enhance your property, for both practicality and enjoyment. Think about how you use your garden and how you can best make it work for you to capitalise on your space and make the most out of it. 

Rent your Space

Unused space or an outbuilding in your garden is a wasted opportunity that could be money in your pocket. 

Allotment waiting lists are constantly growing, especially as more people turn towards living more eco-friendly and sustainable lives. But if gardening isn’t really your thing, or you don’t have the time to cultivate the vegetation, you could think about renting out your outdoor space as a plot for others to use.

An outbuilding sitting doing nothing could become a handy storage unit. If you don’t need the additional space, you could rent it out to others who do. The size and condition of the building will determine how much you can charge, but make sure you have the right insurance policies to cover it.

Let people know what you are offering by placing an advert in local newspapers or listing websites, or on social media.

Use your garden buildings

You don’t have to rent your shed out to others, you could use the extra space yourself instead. Garden rooms and log cabins can be used for all sorts of ventures, whether it’s to enhance your living space, for leisure purposes or as business premises. It can be more than just for storing tools, garden furniture and lawnmowers. Just kit the room out with the right equipment, utilities, insulation, or whatever you need to suit your intended use.

Save yourself money by building your own home gym in the garden rather than shelling out for costly memberships that often go unused. Or bring the party to your home with a pub shed or garden bar, so you don’t have to fork out for expensive rounds of drinks or taxi fares. 

If you are one of the many now working from home, your garden building could create the ideal workspace. It will enable you to keep your personal and professional life separate, and get the right home/work balance. You can even find purpose designed garden offices on the market that come fully insulated and double glazed, and feature domestic style locks for security.

Whether you’re a budding writer, beauty therapist, business consultant or aspiring personal trainer, this could be the perfect opportunity for you to kickstart your dream career. You can easily start your own business right from the bottom of your garden.

Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables

You can’t get fresher or more organic than growing your own produce. Climate change is a very critical issue at the moment and we are all encouraged to think about sourcing our food locally and being more seasonal. Growing your own fruit and vegetables will help reduce your carbon footprint as the food won’t have to travel far to get to your plate. Plus there are other benefits to the environment as doing away with pre-packaged fruit and vegetables means using less plastic. 

You can also save money by growing your own produce as it will cut your food shopping bills. It is much cheaper to buy a packet of seeds that will grow many plants than a one off purchase of the ready grown item. 

Even if you don’t think you have a large enough garden to dedicate too much room to a vegetable plot, there are still things you can grow yourself. All you need is a few plant pots, containers or raised beds and you can easily grow smaller things like herbs and salads. A hanging basket is perfect for cherry tomatoes or mini strawberries. A pergola could be used to entwine grape vines around. There are plenty of options no matter what size garden you have.

A herb garden is a handy addition, doesn’t have to take up too much space, and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. You can just pop outside for a fresh bunch of parsley or some rosemary to whip up a culinary delight, or grab a sprig of mint to pep up a cocktail. 

If you have a lot of excess produce, don’t let it go to waste, give it to friends, family or neighbours. Fruit, like apples, can be stewed and then frozen for use at a later date.

Make your own booze

Experiment with making your own drinks by using ingredients found in your garden. Why shop for them when you can grow them for a fraction of the price?

Make up a syrup using rosemary or hibiscus for a botanical cocktail or mocktail. Sloes, blackberries or elderflower can be used to infuse a gin. If you have an abundance of apples and pears they’ll be great for making cider.

How about going that one step further and setting up a mini brewery or wine press in your garden shed. Deck out the building with all the relevant equipment needed to make your home brew or vino. Give old glass bottles a good clean and reuse them as containers.

You can enjoy drinking your new tipples yourself, or they make great gifts for friends and family at Christmas, on birthdays, or for other special occasions. Invite everyone over for a party where you can sample your new creations with a tasting session or good old BBQ. 

Make pickles and jams

All sorts of produce can be pickled or made into jams and chutneys. Make a classic jam using strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, or create a plum, apple or tomato chutney. Vegetables like courgettes make a fantastic pickle. Search the internet for new and interesting recipe ideas to use up the ingredients you have. 

Making your own jars of preserves and pickles is a lot cheaper than buying single pots from the shop, and gives huge satisfaction knowing what you have achieved. Old jam jars can be washed up and used again for your new offerings.

If you only have a small crop of berries, try freezing batches as you pick them so they don’t spoil. You can make your jam as soon as you have gathered enough. Or you could try using different fruits in one jam to create your own mixed berry flavour.

Make up large batches of your preserves in one go as they will last a long time, or be great as gifts. The foodie in your life will appreciate the thought and effort gone into a homegrown and homemade treat.

Keep Chickens

One of the main benefits of keeping chickens is the constant supply of fresh delicious eggs. Eggs are a versatile food that can either be eaten as a meal on its own or used as an ingredient in cooking. You can eat them boiled, fried, poached or scrambled, in an omelette, baked in a cake or souffle, in pancakes, or used to bind meatballs together.

Hens in your garden will be free range and happy, so will produce good quality eggs. Consider rescuing battery chickens to give the animals a better life. Keeping chickens can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, like having a pet. They provide some companionship as well as fresh eggs to eat.

If you only have room for a small flock, it is recommended by the British Hen Welfare Trust that you adopt at least three birds. This is because hens are sociable creatures who are used to being surrounded by a group, and will get lonely on their own.

Remember to make sure that their housing is adequately spacious, and secure to protect your chickens from dangers like foxes.