There are plenty of ways to spruce up and monetise your garden by paying it with the same attention to detail you pay to some of your interior design. We take a look at some innovative and practical ideas.
Once the current pandemic is over and life in the UK returns to normal – which should happen in a matter of weeks – so too will demand for the provision of much sought-after accommodation.
Many properties – hotels, guest houses and B&Bs – are equipped with an outdoor space associated with their business, be it a garden, a courtyard or other adjoining land. In many cases this land can be put to good use for entertaining overnight guests, increasing catering capacity or hosting family or corporate events.
Often property owners in the overnight hospitality sector have focused massively on their property’s interior design but with a tendency to neglect the potential of their outdoor space. Often this amounts to unloved areas with seats bedecked with old and faded cushions.
Premium handmade outdoor cushion company Altair Living is run by Chris and Elaine Altair, who believe they have spotted a major gap in the market. They are now helping B&Bs, hotels and restaurants to enhance their outdoor spaces with beautifully made cushion covers.
“We help them to fill their outdoor spaces with colour, vibrancy and a plethora of high-performance outdoor fabrics,” says Elaine. “These are hard-working, cost-effective and sustainable fabrics. There is no need for them to throw away their existing outdoor cushions. They can simply update them and give their outdoor space a makeover.”
She says the covers are made with a highly resilient and wipe-clean fabric that can deal with all the elements expected outdoors from rainwater to snail trails, ketchup to red wine, coca-cola and mayonnaise. “A child may wipe ketchup or ice cream on the cushion. Wipe it off with a damp cloth and that stain will never show,” she says.
One of the most dependable features of the British climate is its intermittently disappointing weather. There are ways many venues get around this, often through the hiring or permanent installation of gas-powered standing heaters.
New technologies are now available that replace the need for such equipment. Mensa heating is the UK distributor for Danish outdoor heating specialist Vireoo, which makes a range of units that lend themselves to the hospitality market providing warmth to guests using infrared technology.
They supply are four such products all with infrared light, all water-safe with IP44 certification, and all with safe-to-touch function.
CEO Irma Stevens says: “They’re fantastic when it comes to electricity use, costing just 10p per hour which is extremely low cost for heating compared to a gas heater, and much more eco-friendly.
“The motion sensor means they only turn on when someone stands or sits beside them, and therefore they won’t be turned on unnecessarily, and they turn off when the tables are unoccupied.“
Outdoor cooking & eating
If you have the outdoor space, barbecues can provide an attractive and potentially lucrative addition to your hospitality business.
Lancashire-based manufacturer Cinders Barbecues has been in the business now for over 30 years and its products are used in all sectors of hospitality from cruise liners to care homes.
Marketing director Karen Swift says: “Our barbecues are designed specifically to punch through quantity when needed, but the numbers that can be catered for is related directly to how much of the food offering is barbecue and how much is pre-prepared or even pre-cooked.”
Determining factors for instance concern whether the menu for the evening consists entirely of prime cooking from the grill or whether a significant proportion comes from the kitchen, she says.
The company has provided equipment to major events through the years including Glastonbury Festival, at which a number of their barbecues cook for four or five days, sometimes through the night.
But it’s no longer just about cooked meats. Last year the company launched StreetWok. “Stir fry is a tremendous crowd pleaser,” she says, confidently predicting that rental supply will grow with demand as that trend progresses.
Unsurprisingly, she says, the greatest challenge for their market is the huge peaks and troughs of demand through the year, made all the greater by having to invest without paid pre-orders.
If your business wishes to appeal as a venue for a local festival or if you hold events such as weddings but don’t have the accommodation space indoors, provided you have outdoor space, you can always consider hiring in tents for additional overnight guests.
Rentbelltents.com owner Barry says: “If a hotel or B&B have the land, they can use to pitch tents then we can help. We provide that service to venues that do not have the interior capacity for certain events and enable them to increase their space to accommodate the extra guests.”
The rental company can provide anything up to 100 tents from 4sq m to 6sq m, sleeping up to 10 people.
“Business used to be just camping and a little bit of weddings and major festivals but now it is becoming a lot more commercial,” he says.
The company itself even provides its own B&B service. “We turn up, set up the tents, provide an evening meal, then the outdoor guests sleep in the tents. We provide them with breakfast the following morning before packing everything away again and leaving.”
The opportunities for outdoor furnishings are huge, from developing safe play areas of children, to decorating the garden with durable artificial plants for those like me with grey fingers.
As Summer approaches and you find yourself with more time on your hands than is traditional for this time of year, now may be the best time to pay attention to the opportunities you could milk to capitalise on your outdoor space.