Hitting the deck. Your garden as outdoor living space.

Anyone who has a garden, however small or large, knows what a difference outdoor living makes to your wellbeing when you can use it. During the winter months, the garden is simply a view through the window, but come spring, it can become an extra and ever-changing room, a part of your living space.    

Creative use of outdoor space

Making the most use out of outdoor living and landscaping has long been the subject of debate (and hours of cheap TV programming). But it’s important to look at what you’ve got in the way of external space and how you can use it positive ways. It doesn’t matter what size your garden is, you should always have an area – either a flagged patio or wooden decking – that is a place for you to sit and relax. Dwarf walls or low hedges can also be used imaginatively, to break up spaces and create perspective, as can pathways, lattices and planting beds. Borders can be used for bedding plants, or as plain edges, filled with bark or gravel. Think creatively about the use of space. Make the most out of planting trees for shade, for example, but not at the expense of taking up all your seating area, and keep them to a manageable height.

Whatever the weather

Country, suburban and urban spaces can become really great places to spend time – providing we get the weather. If sometimes spring opens with promise, the Great British Summer often fails to deliver. Once summer has passed, we can get decent spells into October – so-called Indian Summers – and it’s only the shortening days and cooler evenings that drive us back indoors. Even if the weather isn’t up to much, there’s a range of permanent or semi-permanent pergolas, gazebos, summer houses and other structures that can enhance the enjoyment of your outside space and provide shelter. The addition of water features or a pond can attract a range of wildlife and birds, while plants can tempt an array of insects – even in urban and suburban areas, which can be surprisingly rich in wildlife.

Your garden is an important part of your property that is often the most ignored and taken for granted in a ‘just-passing-through’ sort of way. Create a place that you’re comfortable spending time in, a secluded haven where you can leave the world behind. Approach it in exactly the same way you’d think about how you’d decorate and furnish a room in your house. The more thought you put into it, the more pleasure and relaxation you’ll get out of it.