These days, outside spaces are increasingly being transformed into “garden rooms”, extending the indoor environment rather than being left underused and unloved. A well-designed outdoor space can add value to your home, increase enjoyment and wellbeing, and impress your visitors too. So what can you do to make your garden space – however small – more attractive, inviting and useable?
When planning your outdoor space, consider what your particular priorities are. Are you a keen gardener who wants to spend lots of time planting and tending flowers or vegetables? Do you want to use the space for sitting and relaxing? Do you like to look at water features, sculpture and artworks? Are you keen on entertaining? Do you have children who need space to play? Do you need storage or a garden workspace or studio? Once you answer these questions, you will have a clearer idea of what is important for your own garden room.
If you have a new outdoor space, or want to adapt an existing area, think about the hard landscaping in your garden first. This can incorporate outdoor seating, water features, or ponds, steps between different levels, as well as patios or hardstanding to accommodate features like an outdoor studio, shed, outside cook space, barbecue, chiminea, fire pit or pergola. If you are unsure, consult a landscape gardener who can help you put your ideas into practice, and who may have some good ideas you haven’t considered.
Once the hard landscaping is complete, the planting can begin. If your children are active, an area of lawn is a good idea and this can be laid quickly, in the form of rolls of turf, if the budget allows, or grown from seed if not. In either case, ensure your new lawn is well-watered while it becomes established.
As well as planting out new flower beds with seasonal bedding plants and/or perennials, consider growing plants, like climbing roses or clematis, up fences, arches or pergolas, to help soften the hard landscaping. Add plant pots on patios and next to walls to bring pops of colour.
Garden seating comes in many forms and may be moveable or built in as a garden structure. There are patio sets to suit all budgets and tastes, ranging from practical, plastic garden furniture sets to luxury seating, parasols and garden cushions to seat a large party. Consider whether you want garden furniture that will stay outside in all weathers, or if you prefer to store it away in the winter.
Whether you are out in the garden, or looking at it from inside the house, a well-planned and attractive outdoor space always lifts the spirits. We all like to put our own stamp on our homes and show off our individual styles and we can do this in the garden room too. Think about whether you want a particular colour scheme for garden cushions, bunting, lights, parasols and crockery, or want a specific theme that you can achieve with mirrors, artworks and sculptures. Perhaps you want a grand effect and choose regal, stone lions and a formal pond to create this. Perhaps you like a more naturalistic feel and add metal sculptures of animals, flowers and birds in the flower beds and borders. Perhaps you like a minimalistic style, with tones of gravel and stones set around a statement piece of sculpture.
While good garden centres have many choices of garden sculpture to help you personalise your outdoor room, remember there are also independent artists and sculptors across the country who can supply a truly unique and personally-designed garden artwork especially for you – and the price may not be as much as you think.
Once you have imagined your ideal outside space, you have taken that first step towards making that dream a reality.
Want more inspiration? You may like to read the story of a special floral stained glass garden sculpture that I made for a client’s pergola recently.