Forget luxury holidays – you can bring the glamour to your own garden for a fraction of the price. Here’s how to enjoy your garden all year round.
If this summer proves to be anything like the summer of 2018, we’ll all be glad of the little oases we call our back gardens.
But if you’re planning to spend a lot more time in your garden this summer, how do you make sure you get the most out of it?
It’s not just a matter of getting a few nice seats and lights out there any more. These days, there are so many amazing ways of bringing your garden to life, that it almost becomes a room in itself!
A far cry from the traditional conservatory, glass rooms are one of the latest trends, and a great way to make more of your garden space.
‘Essentially these are glass cubes, which can either be attached to your house or entirely separate in another part of the garden, but mean you can use that part of the garden all year round no matter what the weather,’ explains Helen Reeley from Helen Reeley Gardens in Berkhamsted.
‘These are much more modern than a conservatory. The glass is triple-glazed and they retain heat in the winter and don’t overheat so much in the summer. The huge panels of glass also mean you get great views all around.’
With the weather so unpredictable, this is a great way to make the most of space in your garden.
Forget barbecues – they’re so last century! The latest thing for gardens is the outdoor kitchen.
‘These are so much more than just a source of heat to cook on,’ explains Helen, who says that more and more people are asking for kitchens to be incorporated into their garden designs.
‘They usually have cupboards for storage, a fridge for drinks, work surfaces, pizza ovens, rotisserie ovens – everything you could need and more – such as this one by garden designer Craig McGibbon. The idea is that you don’t need to keep going in and out all the time and can do everything outside, making the most of the garden.’
Another option, if you don’t want to be entirely glassed in, is what is known as a ‘louvred pod’. Either as a stand-alone pod, or something attached to the house, these are essentially pergolas with louvred roof systems, where tilting blades close electronically when the heavens open.
‘With the weather in the UK, these are a great solution,’ says Helen. ‘I love them, because it means you can spend more time in the garden even when it starts to rain.’
Traditional patio heaters are extremely bad for the environment and, Helen says, have never been a popular choice for home gardens anyway. The latest trend is a fire pit or chiminea – these are a great way of keeping your seating area warm and toasty long into the evening.
Awnings are a more cost-effective way of making your garden weather-proof.
‘There are some really good quality, affordable electronic awnings these days,’ says Helen. ‘And because it’s just a roof without sides, it means you can cook and have fire pits under them quite safely.’
In terms of seating, it’s best to stay away from plastic, as it not only doesn’t last long, but we’re increasingly becoming more aware of the damaging effect of plastic on the environment.
‘Wood can be left outside treated or untreated, depending on how you want it to look,’ says Helen. ‘Stainless steel is a good option too, as it lasts well. But, just as you’d want comfort if you were sitting in your dining room, you want to be comfortable sitting outside too, so it’s essential to put cushions and throws on chairs.’
Lighting can be as pricey or as inexpensive as you want and still be effective.
‘You don’t want to light up your seating area too much,’ explains Helen. ‘It’s more about lighting up the surrounding area, such as uplighting a tree for example, and then using softer lamps and lanterns for the seating area.
‘You can choose to have it all properly wired in by an electrician, with lights that dim, change colour, go on and off as you move round the garden; or you can choose something simpler such as fairy lights around a tree or solar lamps along a path,’ says Helen. ‘Both look lovely and make the garden at night feel more special.’
‘People are increasingly asking for water features in their garden for a really relaxing feel – but you do have to be careful about the noise they make, as some can be so loud they’re a distraction,’ says Helen.
‘One of the nicest, most soothing water features is a bronze resin pool, which has gentle bubbles rippling the surface and means there isn’t the constant sound of running water, but is subtle and tasteful. They’re also relatively easy to install.’
You can find some lovely examples at Lucy Smith.
As the temperature drops and the light goes down, it’s essential to keep warm if you want to stay outdoors. ‘Make sure you have a good stash of blankets and cushions, so you don’t have to decamp inside as soon as it cools down,’ says Helen.