As the glorious British summer continues to spoil us with day after day of soul-enriching sunshine, we can’t ignore the charm of a life lived al fresco. From early morning coffee in the garden, to late night dining on the terrace, now is the time to make the most of your outdoor spaces, however petite or sprawling. Outdoor rugs are always a favourite when it comes to zoning outside spaces, but what other design ideas can help us create an enticing oasis of our own?
If you find yourself being drawn outside toward the end of the day, perhaps with a salad or cocktail in hand, you might want to consider making sure the space is usable in dusk light, as well as in the midday sun. “Any small garden can be instantly transformed with lighting.” says award-winning design duo Forward Features. “Whether it be outdoor hurricane lanterns lining the borders, candle holders hanging from branches or fairy lights glistening overhead, using lighting can make your garden feel like an extended space and will ensure that even when the sun goes down, the party doesn’t have to stop!”
Elton John once said, “I can not bear gardening, but I love gardens.” Sound familiar? While the therapeutic benefits of gardening are something of marvel, it’s perfectly fine if you’re someone who finds the idea of an afternoon spent weeding on your knees less than desirable. If you love the thought of a low-maintenance, lawn-free outdoor space why not go for a more contemporary look with raw materials and industrial finishes such as copper complementing a chic patio or decked area.
When it comes to function, remember three key things. You need something to sit on, somewhere to put your glass down and something to keep you warm when the conversation trails into the night. Writing for House & Garden, Tory Kingdon sings the praises of the humble fire pit. “Fire pits look fantastic in a country setting but are also great for city gardens.” she explains. “They act as a focal point, because nothing beats sitting around a fire, and provide warmth, because let’s face it the extra jumper doesn’t always cut it on a British summer’s evening.”
As a society crammed into densely-packed urban areas, the need to get creative with architecture and interiors is more apparent than ever before. You’re already making the most of awkward corners and impractical box rooms, so don’t forget to apply the same enthusiasm outdoors. As demonstrated by garden designer Kate Gould with her gold medal-winning show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year, urban abodes (and the dynamic developments they often exist as) are a unique landscape where multi-level gardens can be created, softening new-builds with lashings of greenery and using floral displays to frame the facades of classic townhouses. Play with zoning using different types of foliage and plant-life to give each section a unique sense of identity or purpose.