Our garden space has a unique place in our lives. For many it becomes the one space they can truly unwind, escape the pressures of an always-on, digital world and rediscover the very elemental joy of growing things and reconnecting with the natural environment.
From a small balcony lovingly tended with flower boxes and potted plants, to a small backyard with potential, making the most of your outdoor space can be a real life enhancer in many ways. Sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part – but if the recent RHS Chelsea Flower Show has you inspired to get a little more green fingered, these botanical ideas could pep up your garden space in time for the rest of the summer.
Try Installing A Living Fence
If you need to section off an area or screen something unsightly that you can’t get rid of, considering softening things with a ‘living fence’. This involves installing a framework of trellising or woven material like willow, and training climbing plants to grow up it. The variants best suited to this are super pretty and also happen to smell fantastic – wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle, passionflower. They can add an ambience to a disused corner and make it the most beautiful spot to sit and have coffee. If you plant wildflowers, you can also attract bees and butterflies, introducing more eco-diversity. Modern vertical irrigation systems can help in challenging corners – almost anything can be masked with a bit of careful planning.
Mix Up Traditional Planting Schemes
Traditionally, we’re taught to keep our vegetables as well segregated as possible from our flower beds, but re-wilding calls for a much more haphazard approach. There are many positive benefits to flora and fauna when you mix and match, as it makes your garden prime territory for pollinators. With more of a succession of flowering periods, pollen and nectar are available to insects throughout the entire growing season, not just within a small window. Flowers complement herbs too, so mix in lavender with sage, chives and mint and the odd curveball such as artichoke that’s been left to flower. It’s a piecemeal process of discovery, but that’s precisely what’s so wonderful about it.
Invite The Wildlife In
Making your garden attractive to local wildlife is a beautiful thing to do – it can help redress the urban sprawl which has unbalanced the natural environment a little and add a whole new dimension. Even the smallest of outdoor spaces offers a big variety of habitats for wildlife to flourish. Borders, fuelled with flowering plants and shrubs produce nectar which can nourish butterflies and bees as well as cover for birds and small animals. If you’re into bird baths, they can make a beautiful feature and attract feathered friends. Natural roosting and nesting sites are becoming increasingly hard for birds to find, so your garden could supply an ongoing safe haven, as well as being filled with the beautiful sound of bird song.
Enhance Your Outdoor Dining
As most gatherings revolve around food, think outside the box when it comes to providing for your guests. Rather than simply wheeling the barbecue out, what could you do that’s more inventive? Pizza ovens are gaining in popularity, and with such a wide range of models from moveable stainless steel ones that wouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant kitchen to clay and brick tabletop ovens that are less intrusive, your friends and family could soon be enjoying this tasty, customisable, easy to throw together treat. If you use your garden for al fresco dining a lot, you could also consider an outdoor kitchen, with a full weatherproof setup, or a repurposed armoire to hold plates and cutlery.
Think About Surfaces
When creating a social space, there are lots of ways to add dimension. Adding in a multi-level patio can combine flexible seating with an inviting situation to sit and drink a glass of wine or two, while raised decking from a set of patio or bi-fold doors can help to bring the indoors outside and create a seamless transition between the inner and outer space of your home. Also, take the opportunity to make sure that your lawn is in tip-top condition. Using a professional maintenance firm makes sense if you have a large grassed area that needs maintaining or a yearly check to keep it in the best condition.
Add Some Statement Planters
If you really want to add a talking point into your garden space, look out for unusual items to repurpose as planters. You can really create some amazing displays if you think outside the box. From old enamel bathtubs overflowing with lavender plants to brightly painted discarded tyres stacked up, it’s a chance to recycle and add impact to your outdoor space. Even a quirky collection of old teapots, or simple potted plants displayed on a wooden step ladder can look amazing. Get onto Pinterest for garden planter inspiration to get you started.
Revamp Your Seating
Where people sit is an essential element in how comfortable they will be, so pay attention to all the different kinds of seating you can add to your garden for different experiences. A rustic table under a beautiful pergola thick with climbers like wisteria, honeysuckle or passionflower is served well by long benches that don’t restrict the number of guests you can invite. A waterside deck may suit reclining wooden lawn chairs for relaxing in on a sunny day. A bistro set can be placed in a little sun trap area outside the back door where you can sit for coffee in the morning. If you want your guests to be truly comfortable shaded circular daybeds are all the range and provide ample opportunity for a leisurely chat.
From small additions to grand new designs, making your garden a truly beautiful and unique place is as complex a task as you make it. Whether it’s just a few small additions or a complete revamp, adding a spark of creativity can reconnect you to the great outdoors and give a whole new dimension to your home.