You’ve bought a beautiful chiminea for your garden, patio or back yard. But your outdoor space isn’t really up to scratch. In fact it’s a bit rubbish. Sadly you’re no gardening expert, about as far from being a garden designer as it gets. So how do you create a chiminea-friendly space that looks good all year round, an attractive place to spend time even when it’s mid-winter, bloody freezing, grey and miserable?
Here’s our simple guide to garden design for chiminea lovers, how to make a gorgeous outdoor space you’ll love spending time in from spring through to the dead of winter.
Simple steps to a beautiful, chiminea friendly garden design
If your garden is square or rectangular, as most of them are, you can soften the shape and make it a lot more visually interesting by planting in the middle rather than all round the edge in beds the usual way. A circular flower bed with a tree or shrub in the middle and flowers around the edge, set in the centre of a square lawn, looks stunning. Half moon-shaped beds around the edges – or even random, asymmetrical curved shapes – look so much better than formal rectangular beds.
Evergreens are your best friend for year-round colour
Plant evergreens like conifers, either in large tubs or directly into the ground, for year-round green and a good basic ‘bone structure’ for your garden. That way it’ll look lovely all year round rather than pretty in summer and awful in winter. You can buy literally hundreds of different conifers, all with slightly different coloured and shaped foliage, some glaucous (a blue-grey colour) and some golden, some very dark green and others a vivid bright, pale green.
Use conifers to shade your chim area from the prevailing wind, so you’ll always be sheltered. Like most plants, once they’ve been in the ground a couple of years you won’t need to water them. You can also use evergreen planting to create areas of shade so you don’t frazzle yourselves on hot, steamy days. A curve is always nice to look at, much easier on the eye than straight lines as well as more practical for alfresco entertainment, creating more useable space than hard corners.
Plant in tubs and containers so you can move plants away from the fire
Plant flowers and shrubs in tubs and planters and you can move them away from the area you place your chim, saving the plants from getting singed when you fire her up.
Place scented plants in beds or pots around the edge of the area you plan to put your chiminea, for gorgeous scents while you entertain. Good scented plants include nicotina, curry plant, honeysuckle, styrax, lilac, sweet pea, roses, stock, jasmine and phlox.
Plant edible herbs and spices in containers and put them close to your chiminea area so you can pick fresh leaves to cook with. Mint is one of the easiest to grow and some versions don’t mind wet weather. Most Mediterranean herbs tend to like dry conditions and hate having their feet in water, so used well drained soil with some grit in it and stand them in a warm, sunny spot. Throwing a handful of fresh herbs onto hot coals delivers an awesomely lovely scent!
The best planting tip for gardening amateurs
The planting bit is really easy: simply follow the instructions on the plant label regarding the kind of soil, conditions and position they like and it’s very hard to go wrong. You should find that as long as you remember to water new plants in properly, for long enough, they’ll reward you by growing like mad. It’s actually pretty difficult to kill a plant unless you put it somewhere really silly and forget to water it or over-water it chronically. They’re genetically programmed to live, and they’ll put up with a lot rather than give up the ghost.
Make a simple chim stand without concrete
You can stand your chim on a lawn, of course, but it’s best to have a patio, deck or simple stone platform on which to place it so it’s steady. You can buy a ready-made circle of paving slabs, made from concrete coloured to look like stone. They’re great. To lay them the simplest way, cut a circle out of your lawn in the right size, taking off the turf altogether, then lay the slabs directly onto the earth. Fill the gaps in between the stones with fine sand to help prevent weeds coming through – no cement required.
If you’re into DIY construction you can always build a wide, curved, thich-high brick or stone wall behind which to shelter your chim, which people can also sit on and balance their drinks and food on. A curve is a lovely shape as well as a much more sociable arrangement than a straight wall.
Garden design for chiminea lovers – Keeping the weather off
You can always make or buy a shade to keep the sun and rain off. Sail-shaped garden shades are excellent because you simply attach each of the three corners to a pole with string, fixing the poles into the earth with a bag of sand and cement. Ridiculously simple. If you’re lucky you might be able to fit your sail shade to a shed or outbuilding, making it even simpler to create shelter.
You can also place your chim within a pergola, a simple wooden structure without a roof that some people grow grapevines and climbing plants on. To keep the weather at bay you simply make ‘walls’ for the pergola from tarpaulins in windy or wet weather, and pretty voile fabric in summer for privacy, to keep a light breeze off and help mask the strong sunlight. All you need is the right amount of fabric plus a box of drawing pins to fix it temporarily to the wood.
DIY garden seating that you can leave out all year
As far as garden seating goes, there are plenty of creative DIY options as well as simply buying new garden furniture, handy when you entertain a lot of guests at once but don’t have enough random stools or seating kicking around, nor the storage space to stash it in winter. Here are just three of them – in each case they can stay outdoors all year round, and all you need to do is pop a cushion on top:
- Cast small, easy-to-move concrete stools using sand and cement poured into a plastic bucket
- Use chunks of tree trunk
- Use large terra cotta plant pots turned upside down
Do you have any ideas of your own about making the perfect chiminea garden? If so, leave a comment.