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6 Tips for Alfresco Dining

alfresco dining

It’s now the time of year that some of us have been waiting for. Summer is a time when a lot of us spend a significant time outside, which is great for our overall wellbeing. And what could be more wonderful than enjoying meals outside too? Here is our quick guide to get the most out of your outdoor experience:

1.Create Shelter Against the Elements

A given in a UK! Adding an overhead shade, canopy, or gazebo like this one from S T Fencing, to an outdoor dining area achieves several aims in one move. It will provide shade for warmer days and depending on the density and waterproofing, shelter from the rain. 

If your garden is overlooked, it will also offer privacy from neighbours above. And if you opt for a pergola or another kind of open-work structure you can use it as a base for climbing plants which bring colour and ideally fragrance to your outdoor space.

2.Perfect Plants for your Garden

It’s a good idea to think carefully about the different plants you place around your outdoor dining area. You’ll want ones that stimulate all the senses and others you can perhaps pick off and use on a barbeque. Peppers are useful to have around an outdoor dining area, as are cut and grow again salad leaves. Herbs, such as rosemary and mint, are very useful and will look good throughout the year. Basil is a perfect addition to tomato salad and will also ward off pesky insects.

3. Stunning Outdoor Lighting

Create a warm and soothing atmosphere with lights, bulbs or lanterns hung from the branches of trees or even a curtain light on your fencing – beautiful for relaxing in the summer evenings with something cool.

4. Add a garden umbrella to your outdoor dining area

Enhance a suntrap terrace area of your garden with an umbrella for a chic Mediterranean feel (you could even add lights to this as per above). Coordinate with seat cushions and tablecloths to turn a simple bistro set into an indulgent spot for dining and relaxation. Make sure to take care of your parasol to ensure its longevity.

Avoid putting them away damp, even if you have an umbrella made from a water-resistant material, and always remember to take down if any wind picks up. 

Look at this overhang parasol which has a powder coated steel frame, UV treated polyester fabric, is height adjustable and comes with free delivery to any UK mainland address. Click Here To View.

5. Choose a Dining Set that will compliment your outdoor space.

All outdoor spaces are different! Whether your garden is small, large, offers no shade or is an odd shape, there are many different styles and sizes of outdoor garden furniture online that could compliment your garden or patio beautifully.

When shopping for outdoor dining sets, think about how many people you need seating for (foldaway chairs are great for entertaining and keeping the main dining set to a minimum number of seats when you are short on space). What shape would look best in your chosen area? Round, square, rectangle or an L shape to fit snugly into a corner. Do you have a colour scheme? And do you need the table to have a parasol hole in the middle for extra shade when needed?

Take a look here to see some truly stunning dining sets in a variety of styles and as an added bonus, they all come with free delivery to any UK Mainland address!

6. Dress your Outdoor Dining Table

Try to style your outdoor dining table as you would for any indoor event.

A simple white linen tablecloth laid with glassware and flatware in shades of white and green becomes the perfect setting for a fresh summer lunch. Flowers are key to achieving this look, so include either a generous bouquet or a selection of bud vases overflowing with seasonal blooms.

We love to see your dining area in the garden! Please feel free to send us your photos of you enjoying summer in your outdoor spaces at

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Garden Jobs to do this February


February is often the coldest month and the middle of winter but there is light at the end of the tunnel! You may have noticed that slowly but surely, the days have started to lengthen and this means the garden is starting to grow. So now is  time to plan for your coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Get ready to pull on your warm clothes, enjoy the fresh air, and go outside to get things moving! See below for our best tips to get a head start on your garden.


Top 8 jobs this month:


1. Check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather.


2. Clean pots and greenhouses ready for spring. It may not be the most glamorous of winter tasks but cleaning out greenhouses, gutters and water butts is an important one. Cleaning greenhouses, whether glass or plastic, greatly improves the growing environment for plants. By removing the algae, moss and grime it lets in more light and helps control pests and diseases too.


3. Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already. Soil cultivation or digging may be hard work but, if taken slowly, it need not be back-breaking.


4. Disperse worm casts in lawns. Earthworms are useful in the garden, including in most lawns. However, worms casts on fine low-cut turf are considered by some gardeners to be a nuisance. The action of worms in the garden is beneficial and so casting worms should be tolerated wherever possible. In most cases worm casts can be broken up and dispersed with a wire rake, using it with the teeth facing upwards and moving the rake from side to side over the lawn surface.


5. Prune apple and pear trees in winter, when the leaves are off the tree. Pruning an apple or pear tree can be daunting for many gardeners. Rather than be put off completely or panic and inadvertently harm the tree back by excessive pruning, remember to take your time and stay safe – if you need to go up a ladder, consider investing in a special fruit tripod ladder that will let you get nice and close to the branches (great for picking fruit too).


6. Fancy some rhubarb crumble? Start forcing your rhubarb! Rhubarb needs an open, sunny site with moist, but free-draining soil as it hates being waterlogged in winter. Avoid frost pockets as stems are susceptible to frost.


7. Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season. The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the vegetable plot each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of crop-specific pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs.


8. Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds. By putting out additional food, gardeners can make a significant contribution to supporting wildlife over winter. It is also a great way to watch wildlife even in the smallest of gardens or balconies, often at very close quarters.


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5 Reasons to have Herbs in your Garden

5 Reasons to Have Herbs in you Garden

Leafy aromatic, fresh herbs are sometimes overlooked when it comes to your garden space, but did you know they have a myriad of uses? They are easy to grow and harvest, add vibrant flavours and texture to any meal (few things will step up your cooking quite like having fresh herbs), and smell stunning.

There are a few options when it comes to what to grow herbs in; pots, window boxes and grow bags. Whichever you pick, the most important thing is drainage: if your herbs can’t drain properly, they will drown.

Pots have the added benefit of being portable so they can be easily moved in and out of the house through the seasons. In the winter, woodier herbs can be left outside but they should be protected from frost with garden fleece. Continue reading 5 Reasons to have Herbs in your Garden

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5 Garden Ideas for 2020

Stuck for Garden Ideas? From stunning contemporary layouts to whimsical fairyland spaces – at STF, we’ve truly seen it all when it comes to gardens. Whilst providing our services all over the UK, it’s amazing to see how creative our customers can be when it comes to their outdoor spaces and, we’ve picked up a lot of ideas and inspiration over the years.

With Spring just around the corner (it seems so far away!), it’s worth considering now how you will want your garden to look when the time comes to take that cup of tea outside and enjoy some fresh air.

Take a look at our list of ideas to have the most stylish (and useful) garden in the forthcoming year:

  1. Consider your fence first. Of course we’d say that! But, often, when thinking about garden design and layout, it’s easy to forget what surrounds your space. Creating a garden and then adding in the fencing at the end of the project is like painting the walls of a room with furniture still inside. The walls of a room are traditionally done at the start of the project, with everything else coming after – it should be the same with outdoor area planning.
  2. A place to relax. Spaces to chill and seating areas can be a downtime haven during the warmer months. They’re also often a dominant feature that sets the tone for the area – decide what you’d like at the beginning and build your theme from there.
  3. Grow grow grow! Growing your own flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs doesn’t only make your garden look and smell amazing, it’s also beneficial to the environment. Growing organically with no pesticides or chemicals, whilst avoiding the trip to the supermarket for fresh produce will help to reduce your carbon footprint. Interested? Try these fabulous guides from The Royal Horticultural Society
  4. Planting for Wildlife. Staying with a positive environmental theme, in 2020 there will be an ever-growing emphasis to create sustainable and wildlife-friendly spaces, no matter what the garden size. Professionals from the Society of Garden Designers are becoming increasingly mindful that planting is evolving to use many more ‘wild’ plants such as single roses, species plants, seed heads, grasses and nectar rich plants – encouraging wildlife to flourish.
  5. Less is more. The ‘less is more’ philosophy is set to become a prominent garden design trend in 2020. Planting multiple grasses and simple perennials enhance the lightest of garden designs to ensure a pleasant, natural space that isn’t too ‘busy’.

We’re always happy to talk garden ideas, see before and after photos, and find out more about what our customers are developing. Got a new project? Get in touch to be featured in one of our up-coming blogs!