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Hammocks for the Garden

CHOOSING & USING HAMMOCKS

The thought or sight of a hammock soothes the soul before you even climb into one. We have one on our verandah, and every visitor just seems to gravitate to it - if you can get my wife out of it for long enough.

The swinging motion is soothing and because you’re surrounded by air, it’s cooler on a hot day than a bed.

Types of Hammocks

Mesh

The advantage of this type of hammock is that they are cooler because the air flows through the mesh. They’re also lightweight and don’t take up much space when they’re stored away. Some of the cheaper nylon mesh hammocks can be abrasive on the skin, so you may need to cover them with a rug before lying down.

Solid materials

These are generally more comfortable, giving good body support. The downside is that some are quite heavy and bulky to store and on a hot day they’re not as cool as the mesh hammocks.

Buying A Hammock

· Consider the strength of hammock - some can’t take heavy use by children, or will not cope with heavy people. It is well worth paying a bit extra to buy a stronger hammock. It will last a lot longer, and reduce the likelihood of injuries (as hammocks tear or fall).

· Some will rot if left in the weather. This is most common for natural, untreated fibres such as cotton.

· Consider the style and colour of the hammock – will it fit in with the style or theme of your garden?

Siting & Attaching Your Hammock

· Choose a spot that provides a suitable level of shade. For example you might locate your hammock in a heavily shaded area during the hottest months, and move it to a more open position where it gets greater sunlight during cooler seasons.

· Choose a spot that provides good ventilation (particularly in warm seasons), but not positions prone to strong winds, which can blow you and the hammock around, which may not only be uncomfortable, but dangerous as well, and may cause the hammock to fall (more strain on it).

· Make sure the hammock is not suited any place where sap, or branches from overhead trees are likely to fall.

· Fastening points (such as eye bolts) can be placed in suitable locations so that the hammock can be moved around as required. Hammocks are commonly hung between poles that have been specifically sited for the hammock, or between existing poles, such as the support posts of pergolas or verandahs, or one end attached to a tree or brick wall, and the other end attached to a post concreted into the ground. In all situations any attaching points should be strong enough to support the weight of the hammock, the person or people it holds, and to do so under the extra strain of some movement (people moving around in the hammock or being blown by the wind). Likewise any support posts should be well concreted into the ground.

How to lie in it

Hammocks don’t have the same firm, stable surface as beds so it’s important not to injure your back. As you lie in it make sure you your head isn’t below the level of your feet. Be very careful getting into and out of the hammock – this is when most accidents, and subsequent injuries occur. Be careful not to overload the hammock - they are not designed to be playthings (e.g. swings) for children. Be careful, that if you do fall asleep in the hammock that you don’t get sunburnt as the angle of the sun changes in relation to you.

Ideas to help you relax in a hammock

· Listen to some relaxing music.

· Have a bath, spa or hot shower before laying down.

· Read a boring book – this will soon make you sleepy.

· Try some of these relaxation techniques:

- Muscle Relaxation: close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, make your body feel limp and relaxed, then become aware of all the areas of tension in your body. Start with your feet, consciously relaxing any tense muscles. Move up through legs, your abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, forehead and scalp, all the time relaxing any tense muscles. By the time you reach your scalp your body will feel very relaxed.

- Breathing: close your eyes, slowly breathe in through your nose, counting to 5, then slowly breathe out through your mouth, again counting to 5, visualising each breath as it comes in and goes out.

- Visualisation: close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, then imagine you are about to enter a beautiful place (such as a deserted beach, a forest or a garden). Take a walk through your imaginary place, feeling the warm sunshine and a balmy breeze, and look around you, at the flowers, birds, water, etc. Imagine you are sitting down and relaxing, looking at the scenery. When you are ready, retrace your steps through your imaginary place, before opening our eyes again.

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