June saw UK house price growth hit 13.4% – the highest monthly rise since 2004. With lockdown causing people to look to move out of London and the big cities to smaller towns and rural locations, being stuck in our homes for the best part of 18 months made us all feel a bit claustrophobic. One of the things that made lockdown more or less bearable was the amount of outside space you had access to. Those of us with a tiny yard or a balcony gazed on in envy at the Instagram stories showing giant paddling pools on manicured green lawns, and people sipping cocktails in hammocks slung from actual trees. But small gardens can be beautiful too. With a bit of creative thinking, you can build even the smallest outdoor space into a place filled with colour, life and space to relax and unwind – just the escape you need after a hard day’s freelancing! Here’s the Dinghy guide to making the most of your outdoor space, even if it is more postage stamp than pasture.
Make a living wall
Greenery has a proven effect on mood and wellbeing, which is one of the reasons we’re always encouraging our freelancers to think about having a few houseplants dotted about the place. If your outside space is limited, you might have to think about introducing greenery in a vertical fashion – think up not out! A living wall is a wonderful way to make a garden come alive, as a haven for wildlife and as a splash of colour in an otherwise dull outside space. You can buy complete kits that come with everything you need, including their own irrigation systems, or go DIY and build one from an old pallet. A surprising variety of plants can work in a living wall system, from fruits and veg to fragrant flowers.
If you’re new to gardening, and a living wall seems like a bit of an ambitious target, start with a simple planter or two. You can get fairly compact planters that attach to walls or windowsills. The added bonus of a window box is that it can bring a bit of colour to your inside space too as you catch a glimpse of your flowers through your windows. Hardy herbs like thyme, rosemary and mint can be a good option if you don’t think you’re particularly green-fingered – they will mostly fend for themselves.
Make your garden multi-task
Outdoor furniture has come a long way since the days of white plastic patio chairs. There are lots of clever space-saving options for smaller outside areas. A bench that also has storage in it, for example, gives you somewhere to store your gardening tools or the kids’ toys whilst also doubling up as a place to sit and soak up your surroundings. Look for tables and chairs that fold or stack. We also love a retractable washing line – there when you need it, tucked away unobtrusively when you don’t. And much better for the environment than a tumble dryer.
If you don’t have access to private outside space, or what you have is big enough to swing only the scrawniest of cats, then you might need to head a bit further for your outside fix. Make the most of your local park, especially during the summer when the days are longer and you can head there after you’ve finished work. You could even take dinner with you, stopping to grab a take-out on the way there or packing a picnic. If you want something warm, take a flask of soup or even frankfurters or veggie hotdogs in hot water (try it – it really works!).
Of course, any improvements that you do make to your garden are likely to need a little maintenance. Your plants are going to need watering, especially in a heatwave. You might need to sweep the patio or wipe down the furniture. But these small bits of effort will offer huge rewards when you have somewhere to relax and unwind on warm summer evenings, or to sip your morning coffee. In this sense, it’s a bit like looking after your freelance business. Sure, it’s not much fun to do your accounts or order your inbox, but it makes the rest of your job run much more smoothly.
That’s why here at Dinghy we’ve made buying your business insurance as simple as possible. Just answer a few quick questions on our online form, and you can buy all the cover you need in one place, with simple monthly payments and no admin charges. You can even turn your insurance down to holiday mode when you’re taking some time out to smell the roses. We’re here to make business insurance for freelancers a walk in the park (or a sit in the garden).