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How to make your garden work harder

We all learned through lockdown that our outside space is super important for our mental wellbeing. And as spring is just around the corner, now is a good time to start planning how to get the most out of it. If you do it right, you will end up with extra rooms!

Have a think about what you want to do in your outside space, who will be doing it, and at what times. This will dictate how you divide your space up into zones.

What if you've got a small garden?

Contrary to popular belief, the more zones you create, the bigger it looks and feels. A big expanse of lawn is nice, but it can look a bit flat (literally!) and doesn't really lend itself to different activities.

How do you zone your garden?

You can create zones by changing what’s underfoot. You could have a gravelled area with a table and chairs for your morning coffee. A patio with a bigger table for eating. A deck with a firepit for evening gatherings.

You can separate each area with low hedges, planters, or shrubs in pots. Or there are even some lovely decorative screens available to add some pattern.

And don’t forget about colour of course!

So how do you introduce colour into your garden?

Apart from with plants and flowers?

Have a look at the colours you’ve used inside and bring them outside. Use colours that make you happy! That make you feel like you're on holiday.

And I really don’t understand why fences and sheds have to be brown. Yes, they may be easier to maintain, they may show up the dirt less, but does brown make your heart sing? Does it make your flowers and plants pop? No? Then choose a different colour! There are lots of different coloured fence paints and fence stains around these days. Do what makes you happy.

How do you use colour and pattern in your garden?

Introduce colour and pattern around the garden with pots and planters. Have lots of cushions and throws on your garden furniture so that you can be out there even on colder days – there are loads of good outdoor cushions these days which actually look just as good indoors.

What do you do with a boring patio?

Add a colourful outdoor rug or have a go at stencilling to liven it up at very little cost (just wait for a dry spell or it will take twice as long!).

Here's a few shots of a stencilling project I did. Even though it was August I got rained off a few times!! I used 2 coats of grey masonry paint for the base, one coat of black masonry paint for the design, and then a patio varnish on top.

How do you make a garden feel homely?

My number one favourite thing to do to make a garden feel more homely (apart from cushions and throws) is to add pictures. And yes, as one of my friends found out, if you use normal frames they will disintegrate. However, if you use waterproof snap frames you can screw them to the fence/shed and you open them at the front to put the pictures in (it’s what shops and restaurants use to display things outside).

How do you light your garden?

The last thing to think about is lighting (actually, it should really be the first thing you think about!). Just like inside, in order to carry out the activities you want to do in the garden, you need the right lighting. If you can’t afford to go the whole hog (or you don’t want your garden digging up) and have electric sockets installed outside, then these days there are all sorts of other options available.

Solar powered festoon lights are not as bright as mains powered ones but they still give off a nice amount of light, especially if you zig zag them across a space instead of just round the edges. You can also get LED wall lights, table lamps, and even floor lamps which don’t require an outdoor power source.

And if you’re really lacking in inspiration and need help designing your garden spaces then please get in touch!

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