Updated: Mar 29
Now the weather is slowly warming up and the lockdown rules are easing, we can look forward to inviting our family and friends to our gardens from today onwards. With the need to entertain outside, the focus is on extending our living spaces and creating sociable and entertaining areas.
Whether you're looking to re-design your outside area with a complete overhaul, or just a freshen-up ready for the spring /summer months, these tips will help you to create your own garden oasis.
Sun mapping and layout
When designing your outside spaces, use the sun to guide you. Where does the sun fall accross different areas of your garden throughout the day? Use this as a starting point, then decide how to develop each area; whether it be for entertaining or sunbathing you can determine whether you need sun or shade for these areas.
Zone it out
Now you have understood what requirements you have and the sun path, you can then look at zoning the areas. If you have a natural recess in your garden use these to create a nook, this could be your reading area where you can take five minutes and hide from the kids!
If your garden is large enough, create different zones by introducing a hammock between two trees or a hanging chair, another area for a couple of chairs and a small round bistro table, and a cooking / BBQ seating and entertaining area.
You can zone these spaces easily using different type of flooring material, garden furniture, rugs, cushions, and lighting.
Light it up
Lighting will transform your area into a cosy and inviting space. There are many options available such as string lighting, festoon lights and an array of solar lights which is great if you have limited electric points outside. You can even wrap some lighting around a tree for an additional statement. Lets not forget about candles which creates an immediate intimate atmosphere.
Create a dedicated cooking area so the chef doesn't have to miss out on conversations with your guests. Depending on your budget, there are many affordable BBQ's available to choose from. The setup doesn't need to be elaborate, but if you do have a little extra to spend consider building an outdoor kitchen, complete with worktops and storage. A pizza oven is always a fun edition to the family. Children can be involved building their own toppings and watch their meal cook in front of their eyes - they are sure to get excited at mealtimes!
Source: Shed , Garden House Design, IKEA
Before purchasing furniture, always make sure that you're buying items that are weatherproof, otherwise it might need to be stored inside over the winter months. Stylish, well made furniture will last much longer (like this set shown from Cox and Cox. ). If you are able to buy one good quality item of furniture that will last year on year, and buy less expensive accessories and decorative items, such as cushions, outdoor rugs and string lights.
Pergolas create visual interest, they are versatile and a perfect area for seating; either a cute bench as pictured above, or a full dining area with festoon lighting. Pergolas are also the perfect structure to add climbing roses, vines or wisteria for shading and gives your garden that extra wow factor.
The soothing sounds of a small water feature is sure to make you feel relaxed and calm. If you are unwilling to install permanent speakers in your courtyard or garden, music is easily introduced with a bluetooth speaker which can keep you entertained while gardening, or chilled sounds for relaxing or entertaining.
Everyone seems to gravitate towards fire, there is something so incredibly comforting and relaxing when you sit around a fire with friends. By introducing a firepit or chimnea means you can enjoy the garden for longer when the sun goes down. Firepits and chimneas have become relatively inexpensive and certainly a must for enjoying the cooler evenings. Do check with your local council regulations before installing and always consider safety first!
Add the colour
Plant some inexpensive perennials and watch them come back to life every spring / summer. Here's your chance to inject some amazing vibrant colours into your garden, and then use the natural palette to aid you in pairing some complementing cushions and rugs.
Plants aren't just for the flower beds, find some old pots and get planting - this is a great idea for creating varying levels of height in your courtyard or patio.
I hope you have fun developing your gardens, courtyards and patios - here's hoping for many warm evenings ahead :)
If you're in need of more inspiration, here are 12 items for your outdoor makeover...
1. Indoor Outdoor Hanging Chair, Cox & Cox 2. Ravenna Lounge Set, Cox & Cox 3. Lucas Solar Outdoor String Lights, Heals 4. Aztec Indoor & Outdoor Rug, Grey, John Lewis & Partners 5. Indoor/Outdoor Recycled Borra Tufted Geo Cushion (ochre), Next 6. Indoor/Outdoor Recycled Borra Tufted Geo Cushion (charcoal), Next 7. Blooma Elgini Black & white Solar-powered Integrated LED Outdoor Table lamp, B&Q 8. Llahra Solar Outdoor Floor Lamp, Sklum 9. Kendal Indoor Outdoor Bean Bag Chair, Next 10. Caracass - Black openwork metal fire pit, Maisons Du Monde 11. Hampstead Bench PE Bamboo, Garden Trading 12. Roma Water Feature, Cox & Cox