Now that many of us are opting to stay at home rather than holiday abroad, our thoughts are turning to how we can make our homes more comfortable. Luckily, an outdoor space can easily become a cosy, welcoming chill-out and entertaining space. You don’t need a huge garden to create somewhere to enjoy a bit of fresh air as a balcony or little bit of roof space can give you that connection to nature or provide you with somewhere to lose yourself in a good book.
Here, Angela Slater, the online horticulture expert at Hayes Garden World, shares her tips for turning your garden into the fifth room of the house.
Step 1: Clean and tidy
First thing is to get rid of all the clutter then give it a good clean, wash walls and power wash the floor. If the walls and fences are looking a bit tatty give them a coat of paint or erect some trellis and grow climbing plants and clip the hedge to give a crisp clean finish. Climbing plants can muffle noise from the road or from neighbours and also soften the area and give off a gorgeous scent.
Tidy herbaceous borders and edge the lawn or if you only have a patio or balcony, plant up some containers. They don’t have to be elaborate, just grasses or a sculptural conifer give a clean, chic, minimalist look.
Step 2: Allocate space for cooking
If you are a keen cook, plant up an herb container, just don’t include common mint or horseradish as they are thugs and will strangle everything else. A good mix for Mediterranean cuisine can include; thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, rosemary and basil.
If you enjoy cooking for family and friends don’t forget to include a barbecue area. If you have the space build in a prep area or go for the Norfolk Leisure Mobile Unity barbecue Table; it’s so much easier having everything to hand instead of continually dashing indoors to the kitchen. Make sure your barbecue is sited on a non-slip, hard, fire-proof surface, particularly if you are cooking with charcoal.
Choosing the barbecue can be a minefield as there are so many on the market, so a good tip is to go for one larger than you think you need and always one which has a lid as then you can cook almost anything you would do in your kitchen. There is a choice of fuel; gas, electric, charcoal or briquettes or wood pellet. If you live where the use of live fire is banned then the electric grills, particularly the Weber Pulse range, can give great tasting results. The Traeger wood pellet grills are some of the easiest to operate as they send alerts to your smartphone when your food is cooked.
Purists will always advocate charcoal but if you want ease of use then gas is the answer. The golden rule when buying a barbecue is spend as much as you can afford on a really good quality grill as the cheaper versions will rust and not last anywhere as long as the most respected brands.
Step 3: Make space for comfort
A comfortable place to sit is essential and can cost as little or as much as you want to spend. If you only have a small space with no room for a set of garden furniture just put down a rug and add some large cushions and throws to keep off the chill. If you like the idea of eating on the balcony, there are small folding sets of furniture which can be hung on the wall when not in use. The hanging egg chairs are hugely popular at the moment and can make a cosy secluded nook, just fill with cushions.
There is a huge range of resin weave garden furniture but always go for a respected brand such as Alexander Rose, Barlow Tyrie, Westminster, 4Seasons Outdoor or LIFE Outdoor Living as these will last so much longer than the budget ranges. The weave on the good quality sets is dyed throughout so scratches are not noticeable, if it becomes damp it won’t stain your clothes, the frames are made from rust-proof aluminium and they are made from recycled materials and are recyclable at the end of their life. The budget sets have none of these attributes and are usually not a sustainable product. Resin weave is maintenance free, just a brush down and hose off is required in spring.
The new powder coated aluminium sets are super stylish and perfectly suit a contemporary minimalist space; such as the Boston and Timber ranges from LIFE Outdoor Living and the Norfolk Leisure Titchwell Dining Set. The aluminium is recyclable and as a bonus they are lightweight so can easily be moved around the garden in search of the sun. Don’t forget to include a parasol and base to keep off the harmful sun’s rays. The cantilever models are the most versatile as they can be swung around and tilted to follow the sun.