Guest article by Rosie Lang
Investing time and money in your garden can be a daunting yet exciting decision for any homeowner. A carefully planned garden can maximize the use of precious space as well as adding to the value of your home and giving the benefit of another area for the household to enjoy. Careful planning is essential before creating your inviting garden space.
You can achieve a great outdoor room through the judicious use of a variety of furniture options, lighting, fixtures, and construction of simple structures. Harmonizing man-made materials together with natural elements such as plants and trees can produce an artistic result. Don’t forget to consider the weather in your area when planning your outdoor space to accommodate the passing seasons. By thinking ahead, you can also save a lot time, money, and running costs of an alluring outdoor room.
A clear vision of the overall design is the most important consideration when planning on how to turn your garden into an outdoor room. Would you like to have a charming wooden cottage or an elaborate two-tier gazebo? Will there be a fully functioning water feature running amidst paved walkways and garden furniture? Or would you just like one or two “rooms” delineated by shrubbery and wooden fences?
By narrowing down your list to a few major options, you start to make a note of necessary purchases. In this way you can also save on trips in between hardware stores and garden centres. It’s always more economical to plan in advance, then execute the plan!
With that in mind, here are a few ideas to turn even the smallest most boring garden into an outdoor room.
1. Paving – Starting out with something as simple as evenly laying out a patch of gravel will give you a temporary framework for future improvements. When you decide on something more permanent, you can replace the gravel with beautiful natural stone such as sandstone, granite, or slate. If you want a barbecue area or to incorporate a garden building, this could be a good starting point.
2. Wood – This tough and all-natural material is an easy choice, since wood fits in well to the outdoor garden theme. Whether you are planning to build pergolas, decks, or a garden office, wood is easy to insulate for warm or cold weather. Wood is also resistant to damage from shifting environmental factors such as rain, damp, and extreme temperatures. Chemical treatments also prolong the longevity as well as the quality of wooden structures and fixtures, but take into account any damage that might be caused to wildlife by treated wood and choose accordingly.
3. Plumbing - Providing running water to your outdoor garden room could be a vital part in your garden’s design. If you want to add a running water feature or need to bring a water supply to an office building, for example, it would be best to consult a professional prior to starting. Perhaps you’d like to choose a koi pond or a running fountain – even a small waterfall with the sound of running water would add a new dimension to your garden.
4. Garden Furniture - Selecting a set of tables and chairs can make or break the layout of your outdoor garden room. Garden furniture these days can be made of materials that are able to stay outside during the worst of the winter weather. If storage is a problem, then look for weather-proof designs. It’s fashionable now to have outdoor sofas and armchairs with plump comfortable cushions and coffee tables. You can make a great feature from these. Or perhaps you’re more likely to eat meals at a higher table, in which case choose a dining table with matching – or contrasting – chairs. If you don’t incorporate a gazebo into your garden, it’s wise to have a garden sunshade since even in the UK the summer sun can be hot.
5. Electricity – Having an electrical connection provides homeowners with power to run outdoor lights and built-in sound systems. Lighting affects the ambience and setting of your garden, and even more so now that modern light fixtures can be installed practically anywhere with efficiently low power consumption ratings. Likewise, you can use music as a way to set the mood in your outdoor garden room to really make your garden an extension of your home. Fans, fountains and bug zappers all contribute to how you can turn your garden into a room, and can often be most effectively powered by the mains.
6. Plants and Trees – Perhaps the most essential elements when it comes to an outdoor garden room, choosing the right plants and trees should be based on important considerations. All-weather perennial plants such as foxglove, verbenas, and hardy fuscias survive through all four seasons as well as having long lifespans. Trees such as maple, rowan, and sycamore live through all the seasons as well, providing shade in the summer and an interesting visual backdrop in the fall and winter. Using a variety of pots for plants is another way to add more scenery while retaining a natural feel and is a great way to screen off areas of the garden.
Remember to always account for the weather when planning on how to convert your garden into an outdoor room. The weather factors in as an important outdoor influence. If you live in a cold part of the country consider wooden fences or tall slim plants like bamboo to form windbreaks. And don’t forget to add shade for those hot summer days!