Whether you have a generous garden or a small but perfectly-formed terrace, our own personal slice of the great outdoors has become the place we entertain, a sanctuary that provides a boost to our mental health and wellbeing and somewhere to keep the whole family entertained.
Garden designer Bev Rodway-Smith from Benchmark, who is responsible for creating some of the inspirational showhome gardens on Kier Living developments, shares some top tips on getting the most from your outdoor space.
1. Create a garden to suit you
Think about designing your outdoor space in the same way as you would your indoor space, with areas that reflect your interests and lifestyle. If you love to entertain, consider creating an area for barbeques, informal dining or even your own outdoor bar! If you have the space, why not plan distinct areas for children’s play or maybe consider a wildlife-friendly area of the garden or vegetable patch?
2. Create a design theme
Design schemes are not just for your home – there are a whole host of different looks for your garden too, from cottage to contemporary, Mediterranean to Japanese. You could go for a theme that compliments the style of your home or, alternatively, create something that is a complete contrast. Bring your scheme together by developing a mood board of colours, textures, plants and accessories and get inspiration from magazines, blogs and social media accounts.
3. Plan your planting
Planting spring and autumn bulbs is a really cost effective and simple way of creating a burst of colour in your garden, but make sure you plan ahead and check the best time to plant your chosen bulbs to maximise your seasonal displays.
When it comes to plants, choose a mix of annuals (plants that last one year) and perennials (which grow and flower every year). Consider the shape of your garden and the view of it from different rooms in the house. Choose plants that provide flowers, fragrance and fruit in different seasons to provide interest all year round.
4. Get the kids involved
Any outdoor space can offer a whole host of creative and educational activities for children of all ages. Why not give them their own area of the garden, or even their own planter or pot, and let them design and create their own display?
Gardens are also a fantastic way to discover and encourage wildlife. Why not install nest boxes for birds, bat boxes, bug hotels and hedgehog houses, or create a simple log pile which insects, worms, fungi – and even reptiles – will love to call home.
5. Maximise a smaller space
Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or terrace, you can still create a fantastic alfresco area. Use pots, wall-mounted planters and hanging baskets to free up your floor space or consider creating a living wall. Choose smaller, bistro-style furniture and use outdoor mirrors and clever lighting to create an illusion of space. Finally, stick to a neutral and uniform colour scheme for a streamlined look.