Give your garden a glow up
You don't need to have green fingers to update your outdoor space - just think of it as an al fresco living room. Read on for our top tips.
New houses are designed so that it’s easy to step into their outside space. The vast majority of Persimmon house styles include French doors, putting your outside space in the limelight and framing the view of your garden like a favourite picture.
But where to start when it comes to creating this botanical beauty? Try thinking of your garden as just another living space. When you choose your furniture, you think of its size and where it will look the best. When you choose your wallpaper or paint, you think of the colours that go together. When you choose your lighting, you think of the mood you want to create. It’s just the same outside.
Decide on the layout of your garden first, then add furniture and a few large evergreen plants as a starting point - you can try them out in different positions, exactly as you’d do inside when you add the finishing touches to a room. Their colour will be your base-coat so to speak, and you can work on the decorative touches using different plants and flowers once you’ve found your way around your local garden centre. Factor in added extras such as lighting and mirrors - and voila! A garden to be proud of.
Do your groundwork
To avoid a downtrodden lawn, create a paved area or decking to put garden furniture on. It’s both traditional and practical to step out of your house and onto a patio, but you could also create another small second paved or decked area on the far side of your garden, looking back towards your house. This way, from inside you can look out at your lovely inviting seating area, and from outside you can look back at your welcoming home and make signs at whoever’s in the kitchen to bring out more drinks. On a practical front, it saves you from getting wound up by guests who happily (and loudly) chat into the night below the toddler’s bedroom window!
Sitting it out
Just like your sofa and your bed, it’s worth spending a reasonable amount on good quality garden furniture. It’s going to be your centrepiece, and if you’re going to spend time outside it needs to be comfortable too. We’ve all tried out the pretty but fragile bistro sets, with folding chairs that delight in snapping viciously shut on us. Yes, they fold away at the back of the garage in the winter, but that leaves an empty place – whereas the right garden furniture can create a year-round space.
Choose something solid and the right scale for your garden space. Think corner sofa, and step outside with that idea. Outside chair, sofa, and table sets that push together into a compact, weather-defying, and tidily satisfying cube are a great option.
Then for soft furnishings. Invest in some colourful waterproof cushions that will be perfect for our unpredictable weather. Add a few carefully-casually-flung blankets, then tie the look together with a hard-wearing outdoor rug.
Mood lighting isn’t just for indoors – in the garden, think Christmas lights all year round. A sprinkle of solar-powered lights in the shrubbery works wonders, you could edge your borders with solar lamps planted in the ground or, if you’ve got an outside power source, go for little strings of lanterns on a time-switch. Even if you aren’t going to be outside, looking out will be so pretty. Think of it the same way you do when you turn off the ceiling lights and go with the soft glow of lamps around a room inside. It’s a calm-switch that works beautifully in the garden.
Up to tricks
Outside mirrors are the perfect optical illusion. They double your outside space, reflect your sparkling lights, and once again gently blur the line between inside and outside. With tall delicate plants to frame an outside mirror, the illusion will be complete.
Now for the gardening bit...
A careful choice of plants to decorate your al-fresco room will give you depth, colour, and texture. They are the finishing touches, blending the seating area with the rest of the garden. The idea is to do enough, but not too much. Not too many pots and containers, not too many colours, and not all the same height. Think of your garden centre as a homes and interiors shop – see what looks good together.
- Stylish pairs of bay or olive trees in their Italian weathered terracotta pots are probably on many a wish list. They look wonderful but can be pricey. Rosemary makes a good cost-effective alternative. Richly green, richly aromatic, you can let it grow tall or keep it cut back. Best of all, you can pluck a sprig and drop it into your Prosecco or sprinkle its spiky leaves on whatever you’re cooking on the BBQ.
- Ivy will live happily in a pot. In fact, that will stop it from running riot and taking over. You can choose a variety with pretty, variegated leaves. It will spill over the edges of its container and look naturally at home in any shady corners. Alternatively, you can of course let it grow up a fence or decorative panel, and around the edges of your outside mirror.
Tall and elegant
- Easy to grow, tall enough to make a statement, delicate enough not to take over, long-lasting Verbena Bonariensis is a star. Tiny clusters of purple flowers on outstretched arms fit in happily with other plants. They’ll self-seed too, so you’re sorted for the next year. If you’ve created a gravel feature, they’ll live there no problem.
- Eye-catching Alliums are easy to grow and best of all, they’ll be back each year. You can put some in plant pots around your seating area and some in the flower beds or borders too.
- Mock Orange (Philadelphus) is a well-behaved shrub with the most gorgeous scent. Include that in the background but remember that just like us, it likes the sun. It’s ideal to create a gentle screen as it’s not too dense and it doesn’t mind you snipping off any straggling branches.
- You can’t really go wrong with lavender. In summer the tall spikes of the Hidcote variety look pretty in purple. You can trim it back during the summer if it starts to look a bit unruly, and it’ll flower again. Give it a big enough pot and it will soon fill the space.
- Geraniums love pots and you’ll love their bright colours. You’ll need to remember to water them regularly and to pick off the deadheads, but the more you do that, the more they’ll grow.
- Perennial wallflowers (Erysimums) just keep on going. They are as happy in a container as they are in your flowerbed, so they look lovely around your seating area. The leaves are evergreen and they flower all year round, so they won’t run out of colour in the winter.
SHOWCASE YOUR STYLE
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