Make the most of your outside area with our top design tips, whether you’re hiring in professionals or taking the DIY route
1. Location, location, location
As with any project around the house, begin by planning the layout of the available space and researching different options to see what will work best for you. Consider factors such as which areas get the most sunlight, where access needs to be, and which parts of the garden you’re likely to use most frequently.
Depending on the size and shape of your garden, creating different zones is a good way to maximise the space and make sure every corner is put to good use. A dining area by the house is a practical choice, for example, but you may also want to incorporate a small reading corner at the end of the garden, or a potting area near to the outside tap.
Evesham square dining table with four dining armchairs, £2,499, Bridgman
2. Out houses
Take into consideration new or existing garden buildings that you will need to work into your plans. Garden sheds, outdoor offices and greenhouses are all bulky structures that will become a large part of your garden design.
If a building is going to be on-show, take into account the aesthetics of the exterior and consider using paint or cladding for a pretty finish. Alternatively, use garden screening to hide unsightly buildings out of view from the main garden.
Millboard composite decking, POA, Garden House Design
3. Floor fillers
Decking or patio areas are used to divide the garden and will help the flow of your landscaping design, depending on where you position them and the finish you choose. Your personal preference and budget will determine which underfloor surface is best suited to your space and it’s also important to bear in mind the maintenance of both materials.
Pathways and steppingstones can be used to link different parts of the garden together, so it’s a good idea to choose the same materials throughout for a cohesive look.
30 warm white LED connectable fairy lights, £24.99, Lights4fun
4. Tucked away
Screening can be worked into your new garden design if you want to create more private areas or simply want to disguise an unsightly corner. For a natural finish, tall shrubbery can be grown as a subtle divide between different areas, or you may wish to use wooden or metal screens for a more permanent structure.
Screening can also be used purely as a cosmetic design feature; for example, if you want to create a secret garden effect with winding pathways and hidden nooks, trees and shrubs can be planted accordingly.
Forest Garden 6x4 retreat shed, £2,499, Cuckooland
5. Going green
With artificial turf becoming an increasingly popular option, particularly for smaller gardens, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of real versus faux. For large spaces, artificial grass would be an expensive choice so is generally not recommended, but for urban gardens wanting a little greenery it can be a good solution (particularly as it will mean you won’t need to store a bulky lawn mower).
Forest Garden Whitby arch, £249, Cuckooland
6. Planting seeds
Flower beds should be incorporated into your landscaping plan early on, so you can factor in things like materials (for raised beds), soil and suitable dimensions for planting. Raised beds offer the benefit of being able to keep your borders neat and tidy, plus it makes mowing the lawn an easier task following straight lines.
Concrete or wooden raised beds are common choices, so it depends on your style preferences as to which material you choose. Wooden sleepers are ideal for a rustic finish and they will weather beautifully over time, whereas concrete or painted beds offer a more contemporary look.
7. Lighten up
Garden lighting will mean you can enjoy your outside space late into the evenings and the view looking out at night. Consider whether lights at the far end of your garden will need power, as this may need to be factored into the original plans early on.
Alternatively, solar lights are a good option, particularly for decorative lighting, as they power themselves and can be bought in the form of lanterns, path lights and even wall lights, depending on where you want to position them.
8. Get organised
As well as focusing on the design of your garden landscaping project, it’s also important to be clear on the practicalities. If you’re bringing in professionals to tackle the job, always obtain several different quotes to get a good idea of the going rates.
Factor in additional costs for things such as waste removal and machinery hire if needed and remember to keep your neighbours updated as the project progresses to keep them onside.
Explore some examples of composite decking to suit your needs.
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