It’s finally here. Summer. The season we’ve waited for all year. Those long, lazy hot weather days we’ve been dreaming about are here, and well, now we’re feeling a little sweaty. And lazy. And we just don’t want to expend a whole lot of energy doing much of anything at all. Much less keeping cool.
But there are so many fun and easy ways to cool down while you chill out this summer. Here a few of our favourite ways to keep cool when the temperature soars.
Play in the Spray
You’ve seen inflatables decorating the neighbourhood during the holidays. Now they’ve found new purpose in the summertime: as sprinklers. That’s right, these inflatable sprinklers aren’t just cute, they’re also functional, and will bring out the play while you get your spray on.
A cool sea-breeze may be just the thing you need to cool down, and you can search for the best coastal breezes in your single-seat kayak. Get paddling!
Sometimes you’ve just got to sit down and relax. But if you want it made in the shade, and your yard has other ideas, you’ll need to create your own little shady spot with a sun umbrella that’ll make lounging a lot less sweaty.
Pack a Cooler
There’s nothing like an ice cold drink on a hot day, but keeping it cool can be a challenge. And going inside for a refill isn’t always feasible, especially if you’re spending the day at the park or the beach. That’s why packing a cooler is essential — whether it’s a single-serving thermal jug or a jumbo cooler on wheels so your friends can join the fun. Just don’t forget the ice packs!
Now that the weather has apologized for what it did to us last winter, it’s time to expand our living spaces outside. After all, the sun is shining, and the great outdoors are calling!
Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a chic downtown patio, there are several things you can do prep your backyard and patio for the summer.
Here are 7 tips to get you started!
1. Clean Surfaces
No matter what else you do to make your outdoor living space look nice, nothing will help if everything is dirty.
First, give all of the floor surfaces a good sweep. Once that’s done, it’s time to get in there and deep clean. 30-Seconds Outdoor Cleaner is great for cleaning large outdoor spaces, and it’s safe to use on lawns, plants, and fabrics. You can even attach the spray bottle right to a hose and douse all of the concrete, wood, siding, patio furniture, flower pots, and garden boxes if need be. Then just scrub with a brush and rinse.
Voilà! No more winter blahs.
2. Get Your Lawn Ready
Sprucing up the yard is more than just about mowing the grass – take your lawn to the next level with some extra TLC.
Aerate: Aeration helps the grass to breathe and also helps the water and nutrients reach the root system. You should aerate your lawn every 1 to 3 years, but high-traffic areas may require more attention. Here are some more aeration tips.
Rake: Debris that has accumulated over the winter can block sunlight and prevent water from reaching deep down to the roots of the grass.
Maintain: After checking your lawnmower for sharp blades, appropriate oil level, and properly inflated tires, mow the grass regularly, about once a week. Keep grass cut to a height of about 5 cm, except in the hottest part of the summer, when you should let it grow about 1 cm longer.
Water: Watering your lawn slowly allows water to get all the way down to the roots and avoids runoff, so choose a sprinkler that moves in smooth, sweeping motions. Don’t forget to check the water restrictions in your area, and water your yard at night or in the morning before the sun hits it so that the water doesn’t evaporate before it gets into the soil.
3. Prune Trees, Shrubs, and Potted Plants
Pruning dead and excess growth off trees, shrubs, or plants helps the plants grow, and gets rid of harmful insects and rot. Plus, it just looks nicer.
Make sure to also remove any branches hanging over driveways, sidewalks, or paths (these can be a major problem for anyone who has mobility limitations).
Choose a sunny corner of your yard or patio for a new flower bed, planter box, pot arrangement, or even a few containers for vegetables. Ask at the garden centre which varieties grow best in your region, then select your favourite variety of seasonals and perennials. It’s easier than you think!
Just remember to mind your watering — flowers don’t require as much moisture as vegetables.
If you’re short on space, check out this tutorial to make your own (adorable) shoe organizer herb garden! It works great even on a tiny outdoor balcony and you’ll have fresh, delicious herbs well into the fall.
5. Control Pests
Check your flowers, shrubs, and trees for any creepy crawlies. Remove any larger critters by hand or with a blast of the hose, and use natural pesticide for the rest. Not sure what works best? Here’s a handy guide to garden pests.
If you have some six-legged visitors in your yard that prefer to annoy people instead of plants, stock up on wasp, mosquito, or ant control products. While we share the outdoors with nature’s creatures, we don’t necessarily want any uninvited guests at our next backyard BBQ.
6. Ready, Set, Grill!
Speaking of BBQs, prepping yours is an essential part of preparing your yard for summer.
Luckily, modern grills are easy to clean. Turn your grill on for 10-15 minutes, then allow it to cool for a while before cleaning it with a heat-safe tool. (Wire brushes can be dangerous, so here are some alternative grill cleaning ideas.) And don’t forget to fill up your propane tank — nothing is worse than preparing delicious homemade burgers only to find out there’s not enough fuel to cook them.
If you’ve got the room, consider adding an entire dining set. If you have a smaller space, a bistro-sized table and chairs can make even the smallest patios fashionable and a joy to be on! You’ll be surprised how much time you and your family spend out there. Don’t forget to add a shady umbrella for the hot days, and some inviting mood lighting or a home fire-pit to really enjoy your outdoor experience well into the warm, summer evenings.
If your backyard or patio is in need of some upgrades, London Drugs has everything you need to improve and beautify your outdoor space. Check out our Outdoor Living Guide or just stop by and talk to one of our experts about your unique needs. We’d love to see you!
Ah, the season of sunshine. Spending more time outside in the summer months is treat enough! A couple of folding lawn chairs and patch of grass can be enough to enjoy the warmer weather, but if you want your backyard gatherings to become the talk of the neighbourhood, we’ve got some tips to help take your outdoor space from fine to SHINE!
Then, decide what style speaks to you. Choose sleek and modern, bright and tropical, cute and cozy, or any vibe that fits your space and your taste, and then decorate accordingly. A consistent style will make your space more polished and sophisticated. Here’s some eye-catching inspiration in case you’re stuck on what style to choose.
If you’re on a budget, there is power in a yard sale purchase, some spray cleaner, a can of paint, and a few cute accessories. Not sure if your new-to-you furniture is meant for outdoor use? Never fear, because you can DIY it to make sure it withstands whatever mother nature has to offer. Your local hardware store will have all kinds of paint for metal and plastic protection. Wood and fabric takes a little more work to fortify (here’s a handy guide) but a little elbow grease is worth it for a gorgeous outdoor sitting area.
Step Three: Find the Shade
Your outdoor space will most likely be used in the afternoon or evening, and sun at that time of day can still be pretty harsh. There’s nothing like a bunch of squinting and hand-on-forehead-eye-shading to ruin a backyard get together, so make sure your guests have ample shade. An umbrella is the obvious choice for providing shade in your yard, but there are other options. Strategically-planted trees can provide lovely, dappled shade, or a gazebo-style cover can take care of a larger area.
Step Four: Turn On the Lighting
Days are longer in the summer, but the sun does eventually go down—lighting is an important element if you want to entertain outside in the evening. String lights create a pretty atmosphere in any outdoor space, stake lights will brighten up dark pathways and gardens, and solar- or battery-powered lanterns can be hung in trees for a romantic feel. Speaking of romance, don’t forget the candles! Make sure they’re in holders or use flameless candles to avoid being snuffed out by summer breezes.
Step Five: Dining Design
Any dishes and glasses will do for outside dining, but a backyard makeover is your chance to embrace bright and colourful design that might not fit in with your interior. Why not branch out a little with some fun dishes and accessories?
Keep food casual for backyard meals to capture the classic summer feel – salads, fresh fruit, cold drinks, finger food. Elaborate courses and lots of cooking is impressive, but keeps you in the kitchen and missing all the fun.
Cold drinks are important on warm summer evenings, so make sure your guests are adequately hydrated. Coolers will keep bottles and cans cold without repeated trips to the kitchen, and if you’ve got the room and electricity spare, a drinks fridge is a good investment for serious outdoor entertaining. A lemonade or iced tea station on a side table will keep guests refreshed, or for larger parties, a rolling drinks cart stocked with a selection of beverages, glasses, ice and straws can easily move back and forth from the kitchen for repeated refills.
Step Six: Curate the Music
Everyone knows the perfect playlist can really make a summer party, so keep the music portable with a high-quality, weather-resistant Bluetooth speaker.
Small space? You can still entertain!
Yes, even your teeny, tiny apartment balcony can be warm and inviting for guests. You’re paying for that valuable square footage, so why not make the most of it?
Choose smaller, narrower furniture and arrange it around the perimeter – guests will have more standing room in a smaller rectangular space instead of having to navigate around large pieces. Two small couches facing each other take up a lot less room than a group of chairs.
Non-traditional furniture like a bar table can multi-task as an area for food prep, eating, and outdoor entertaining, all rolled into one.
If you have access to a shared space that you can’t take over full time, have some folding furniture on hand for spontaneous courtyard hangouts.
Check out the London Drugs Outdoor Living Guide for all your backyard entertaining needs. Make this summer the best one yet!
Summer is in full swing, and that means your backyard should be ground zero for the majority of your meals for the next few months. Whether it’s the smoky, delicious flavour barbecue provides or just the act of cooking al fresco, BBQing is one of the pleasures of summer. Here are eight tips to help make you the master of the grill.
Brining and injecting aren’t cheating
Master grillers might look down their noses on these methods, but when you’re barbecuing at home, you’re not in a competition. You’re only cheating yourself if you’re not using all the tools at your disposal that will help you get the most flavour out of your meat. Brining (letting the meat soak in salted water for up to 24 hours) and injecting (where you use a syringe to inject flavourful liquids into the meat) helps to ensure that the meat will be moist and tasty. There’s nothing worse than a dry piece of BBQ, so rigging the game for a favourable outcome is just smart cooking.
Smoke it if you’ve got it
If you only have a gas-powered barbecue, it’s perfectly fine – you’ll get effective heat distribution with gas. But if you do have access to charcoal it will give your meat a distinctive and delicious flavour that you just won’t find with gas.
Searing is a waste of time
Just like the idea that you can see the Great Wall of China from space, the idea that searing meat will hold in moisture is a myth. Instead, it’s more likely that searing will cause the fibres of the meat to tighten, which in turn means you’ll lose moisture. The crusty surface that’s formed by searing isn’t waterproof, and therefore won’t hold in any fluids.
Don’t poke your meat
While you might be tempted to use that impressive looking BBQ fork, don’t. If you puncture the meat, you’re letting valuable juices leak out. Instead, use the less cool but far more effective pair of tongs when you need to flip things.
Cook it low and slow
If you know you’re going to be using the grill, plan ahead. If you’re not rushed you will have the ability to cook the meat at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time. The higher the temperatures, the more the fibres of the meat contract, squeezing out moisture and taking away from the flavour of the cut. But if you’re going to grill at low temperatures, make sure you give the meat enough time to cook so that it doesn’t come out raw.
Patience is a virtue
When you’re done grilling, take a few minutes and wait before you cut your meat. We know – it’s tough to sit there salivating when a perfectly cooked piece of steak is sitting right in front of you, but trust that the wait will be worth it. By holding off, you’ll effectively retain a lot of those precious juices you’ve been cultivating from the very beginning. If you cut into the meat right away, those juices will just spill out onto the plate, where they can’t be enjoyed.
If you’re looking for the quickest way to rob your meat of flavour, by all means, boil it before putting it on the BBQ. By boiling, you’re losing all of the feat and flavour that provides taste. Even if you’re pressed for time, don’t take this shortcut.
With veggies, speed is key
If you’re cooking veggies on the grill, speed is your friend. Slice your veggies into thin strips and then char along the bars. You don’t have cook them for long to achieve that BBQ appearance and flavour.
If you want to up your BBQ game this summer, London Drugs has everything you need to become a master griller, including barbecues, camp stoves, tools, fuel, and accessories.