How To Make The Most Of An Outdoor Space

How To Make The Most Of An Outdoor Space

For any homeowner, having an outdoor space like a patio, deck or garden provides an inviting area to relax and entertain. However, plain concrete or a sparse lawn does little to enhance a property. With some creativity and strategic additions, you can transform even the smallest outdoor area into a comfortable, appealing extension of your living space.

Create Zones

One way to make the most of your garden is to divide it into separate zones or "rooms" designated for different functions. For example, you could create a lounge zone with comfortable seating arranged around a coffee table, perfect for relaxing with a book or your morning coffee. Stone pavers, gravel or decking can be used to mark the boundaries.

A dining area set up with an outdoor table and chairs makes an ideal space for alfresco meals and entertaining with loved ones. Position this dining zone near the rear doors of your home for convenient access to the kitchen.

Finally, why not designate an activity zone for play and recreation with little ones for a family-friendly garden, with lawn space for games like badminton or football. The outdoor space will feel larger and more functional when tailored into multipurpose areas.

Ensure There's Ample Shade

Adding elements that provide shade allows you to stay cool and protected from the sun in your outdoor area. Strategically position umbrellas over seating spaces or dining sets, tilting them to follow the sun's movement. For larger shade, you may want to install retractable awnings coming off the back of the home, over a patio or deck. Pergolas are also an attractive way to shade a sitting area in a garden, with vining plants and louvred roofing.

If space allows, set up a small gazebo or open-sided outdoor structure to use as a shady relaxation spot. Trees are another natural way to establish shade; plant them so they cast cover over parts of the garden at different times of day. Incorporating shade enables you to enjoy the outdoor area throughout the day, without having to retreat indoors because of the heat and sunlight.

Add Inviting Seating

Ensuring your outdoor area has comfortable, ample seating makes it more inviting and usable throughout the year. Carefully consider your choice of outdoor furniture, choosing seats, chairs and loungers in durable, weather-resistant materials like wicker, teak or aluminium. For a cosy feel, arrange some chairs in a seating grouping facing each other, with a small table in the centre. You can also add additional individual chairs around the outdoor area near features like rockeries or water features so people can sit privately and enjoy the peace and quiet.

For sun loungers, position them in areas that get the most sunshine throughout the day, and don't forget cushions and pillows to add softness and comfort to hard seating. Cushions in bright colours and prints are a great way to boost the visual appeal of your garden and also add texture. Adding a few outdoor sofas or loveseats creates a living room feel outside, perfect for larger groups to sit and chat comfortably.

Improve Ambience with Lighting

One of the best ways to enhance the appeal of an outdoor area is to incorporate lighting that sets the desired mood. String lights draped over a pergola or the branches of trees immediately create a warm, magical feel, while lanterns with solar-powered bulbs on posts surrounding a patio or lining the path through a garden create a beautiful walkway.

For entertainment areas, use spotlights to highlight cooking areas around the grill or bar, so the garden remains practical and functional throughout the evenings. Proper lighting transforms an outdoor area from day into night by allowing it to be used after sunset. It also adds style and creates the perfect ambiance for dining al fresco or hosting garden parties.

Incorporate Greenery

Plants, shrubs and trees are a natural way to enhance the look and feel of any outdoor area. Embrace planting beds around the perimeter of your space and fill them with colourful annuals each season like petunias, pansies and marigolds, or establish potted plants in large containers for low maintenance greenery; choose palm trees, olive trees or bamboo for height and impact.

Strategically place trellises and arbours where climbing plants like roses or ivy can grow upwards. Or if you want quick impact, use decorative artificial grasses, vines or topiaries. For smaller spaces, a green accent wall covered in a living wall of succulents or vertical planter boxes also add freshness and colour without too much gardening know-how or space required. Incorporating diverse plantings helps any outdoor space feel lush, peaceful and connected to nature.

Add Warmth with Fire Pits

Extend the use of your outdoor area into the cooler months by installing a fire pit. You can choose a permanent brick or stone firepit, or go for a portable metal model that can be moved around the garden or put away in storage when it's not in use – a particularly useful factor for landlords who may have temporary periods where the property is empty.

Position your fire pit in a central area with seating like benches or lounge chairs clustered around it. On chilly evenings, gather around the flickering glow to warm up, roast marshmallows or share conversation. A firepit not only provides warmth on cool nights, but becomes a lovely focal point for entertaining or relaxing, bringing people together through all four seasons.

Creating an inviting outdoor living space requires both imagination and strategic planning. It helps to think about how occupants of the space are likely to want to spend their time outside, and tailor zones and features to match those interests. Focus first on providing ample comfortable seating and shade. From there, you can add entertainment elements, cosy lighting and plenty of greenery for visual interest. Even a small budget can yield big improvements with just a few DIY upgrades, making your property more inviting.

Image is from a large detached property in Crewe available Nov 2023. For the full listing, please click here.

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