Designing A Summer Garden


Sun Protection

It’s the time of year when most of us get the most enjoyment from our gardens. Summer is payback time for our labours over the previous three seasons.

Apart from the seasonal care and attention you will need to lavish on your plants and flowers, you may want to consider some additional steps to get your garden living up to its full summer potential.

Shade Structures

Shade is important – and very inviting – during the hottest time of the year. It also helps to cool your garden and house down.

Summer is the best time to identify an area in your garden with natural shade, and this would probably be the perfect place to construct your structure.

The structure can be as simple as a timber pergola, with steel offering a great option for more complex and permanent designs. Climbing plants and hedges can be trained to cover the structure for ‘natural’ summer shade. Roofed structures may need permits but will provide better shade rather than filtered light, as well as usable space for when it rains.

Shade Trees

A well-positioned shade tree in your garden will make a significant impact on the temperature inside your house on a hot day.

First identify areas of your garden that are lacking in shade and then consider which trees would be most suitable to plant. Deciduous trees allow sunlight through in winter, but good shade canopy in summer. Look for types (?SUCH AS?) that will not get too big in a domestic garden, while offering with a broad canopy or horizontal branching habit to provide the best shade.

On a boundary, you may want to plant a row of upright growing trees for both shade and privacy from neighbours. The hottest sun will come from your western boundary, so this area needs most consideration.

Entertainment & Styling

The best way to enjoy your summer garden is to entertain in it with friends and family, and you don’t need an endless budget to do so.

A simple outdoor table, chairs and barbecue will suffice. Try to make the most of your outdoor entertaining area by styling it with summer colours and fabrics.

Outdoor pots can be planted with herbs, and these are great for barbie cooking (see pageXXrecipesXX). The colour of the pots can be changed seasonally by painting them. Herbs and succulents are impossible to kill, so long as you have drainage for the pots. It’s also a great way to involve children in the garden.

For use in cooling drinks and homemade cordial, plant a lemon tree and pots of mint.


Some of the most blazing days come with hot, dry winds, so a cooling breeze is well worth harnessing.

Make sure you screen off any areas that are prone to wind. Planted screens are effective as they help to filter the wind, but built screens can also help to slow wind movement. Louvres are a great way of filtering wind, so that a breeze can be directed where you want it most.

Water features

While pools are the most common summer water feature, there are many other options for a small budget.

Any feature with moving water will provide a cooling feel to your garden, even if it’s just the effect of seeing and hearing it.

Lighting up water features, including swimming pools, at night is a great way to spread colourful ambient light and bring additional interest to the garden during the dark hours.

Cooling Plants

Think about the colour scheme of your garden, and how it will look in full bloom over summer.

You may want vibrancy and vivid features in your beds. An alternative approach is to create a cooling colour scheme using green foliage combined with a simple palette of white and blue flower shades.


During the recent drought years, gardeners avoided planting lawns, but they are a great way of cooling down your backyard in summer.

Any restrictions on tapwater in your area will determine how much, if any, you can give your lawn, so installing a rainwater tank may well pay dividends.

It’s worth maintaining a real grass lawn for summer, as it is the best surface for children to play on and will avoid the strong reflected heat that comes from paved or concrete surfaces.


There are so many perfumed plants to choose from, and some release fragrance at different times of the day and into the evening.

Gardenia sp. (Gardenia)

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Chinese Star Jasmine)

Murraya paniculata (Orange Jasmine)



Hymenosporum flavum (Native Frangipani)

Heliotropum arborescens (Cherry Pie)

Stephanotis sp (Madagascan Jasmine)

Hemerocallis (Day Lily)


Michelia figo (Port Wine Magnolia)

Philadelphus sp (Mock Orange)

Herbs – many herbs have aromatic qualities

Seasonal care & attention

With rainfall this year being above average in most cities, spring may have pushed out lots of new growth. There might be some areas of your garden that need more work.