Rachel Smith writes: I’m in the process of redesigning my own garden and I know it will be another place we can spend time, either together or separately.
A large lawn is great if you enjoy mowing and just playing football on it, but if you want more usable space then dividing it into different areas or zones is the way to go.
Amazingly, the more usable areas you put in a garden, the bigger it feels.
Mine is a relatively small garden, but through careful planning I’ve managed to fit two different seating areas in, which essentially means two more rooms.
So where do you start? Decide what you want to do in the garden (sunbathe, have a morning coffee, entertain during the day/evening) and then plan around it.
Make it clear what the different zones will be used for and everyone will use them accordingly.
We love to eat indoors, so an outdoor table is a must for family meals and entertaining – as are chairs that stack, so we can have as many as we need in the shed.
I also create a BBQ area near the dining area where there is space to prepare food so we don’t have to keep going back and forth between the garden and the kitchen. It’s important to look at each room and really think about what you need there so you can plan everything in advance. It’s always harder to do things after the fact.
Nowadays there is a wide range of garden furniture at affordable prices – if you are not in a hurry or are planning for next year, it is always good to buy things at a reduced price at the end of the season. Just check if they are designed to be outdoors or if they need to be included. Most furniture these days is fine with a water-resistant outdoor cover.
Lighting is another thing that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you have outside outlets then great, but if you don’t have them they’re pretty cheap to install (they can just cause a bit of chaos inside if they pierce through to connect to a power source). And if you don’t want to increase your energy bill, there are plenty of battery-powered or solar-powered lights. And there are always good old candles.
Festoon lights give off a surprising amount of light and can be hung around the fence and/or zigzagged across a patio. Placing uplights along paths or at the base of a pretty tree or shrub to highlight it can also look pretty and create a nice atmosphere.
There are many patio heaters and fire pits these days so you can stay out long after the sun has gone down. And it also means you can venture into the garden during spring and fall.
And don’t forget my favorites: color and pattern! Using colors/patterns similar to those you have used around the house will connect the outside to the inside and make the garden look more welcoming and like an extension of your home.
Door-to-door with Rachel Smith: It’s time for a change if you’re…