Homes: How to make the most of your outdoor space this summer
Summer’s the time to make the most of your outdoor space. Ryan Windsor, development director and co-founder of Cambridge architecture firm WindsorPatania, shares clever and cost-effective ways to make your garden a natural oasis
Summer is upon us, so you might be thinking about your outdoor space, and how you can best use it to catch that rare British sunlight. You might also be wondering about how you can turn your garden into an extension of your home, creating an oasis of calm to relax or entertain guests.
However, achieving the perfect balance between functionality and comfort can be challenging, especially with the UK’s unpredictable changes in weather. This is where outdoor furniture and the design of your garden comes in.
By selecting the right furnishings and setting up your outdoor spaces in a way that makes use of natural sunlight, you can transform your garden into a comfortable and welcoming place that feels like an extension of your home.
Incorporate lighting to create ambience
Lighting does more than allowing you to enjoy your garden after dark. The right lighting can transform the atmosphere of a space and can add a layer of warmth.
To achieve this, you can use different types of lighting. For example, string lights can create a soft glow, while spotlights can highlight specific garden features, like a water feature or ornament.
You can also play with different bulbs to add varying colours, lighting intensity and colour temperatures. For example, you might choose a luminous orange bulb that gives off a warm light, which is perfect for feeling cosy as you settle down on an evening.
Add greenery and plants to create a natural atmosphere
When we think of plants, we think of nature. Adding more green spaces to your garden, or just planting your favourite flowers, helps to give your garden a more natural, authentic feel.
Just like you paint your living room to achieve a certain mood, you can paint your garden by choosing colourful plants. If you only have a small outdoor space, then vertical gardens are a great option. You can add hanging baskets and wall planters to give some colour to your garden, but without taking up the limited space you have.
Add a fire pit or outdoor heater for cooler nights
Have you ever felt comfortable and relaxed in your garden, only to be driven inside by the cold? Unfortunately, it’s something that all too many people can relate to, especially in the cooler months.
Fire pits and outdoor heaters are a great way of enjoying your garden, regardless of the temperature. Alongside keeping you warm, there is no better feeling than sitting around a fire at night, enjoying the company of your friends and laughing the evening away.
Incorporate a water feature for a calming effect
There is a reason that many massage parlours and yoga studios play the sound of running water. The sound has an effect on us that washes away the stresses of the day. It’s also useful for concentration, providing a soothing background noise that lets you relax as you read a book or just enjoy some downtime.
Some water features, particularly ponds, can become a magnet for wildlife. Before you know it, your garden could be attracting birds and frogs, transforming it from an outdoor space into a natural oasis.
There are an almost endless list of water features available, some large and some small. However, regardless of size, it is important to regularly clean and maintain them. This will prevent a build-up of algae and will stop your feature from attracting mosquitos or other annoying insects.
Use foliage to create natural shade
Creating natural shade is crucial for those hot summer days. Sheltering yourself naturally also adds to the ambience of your garden and allows you to enjoy the scenery without being covered in a dark shade that can be cast by artificial appliances, like parapets or gazebos.
To achieve this natural shade, strategically place tall and thick foliage around your garden. We recommend tall grasses, like bamboo, to achieve this. Bamboo will provide a nice amount of shade, but it doesn’t take up too much room in your garden.
Use gravel to create a sustainable haven
Alongside adding to the aesthetic design of your garden, gravel can also double up as a functional feature that helps collect rainwater.
To achieve this, you should install a drainage system beneath the gravel. This will ensure that any water that falls on the surface is collected and stored for later use. For example, this water can be used for irrigation.
About WindsorPatania Architects
WindsorPatania is a firm of architectural specialists “using design innovation to positively impact lives and improve how people interact with their environment. . . creating practical building designs that meet changing cultural, economic and technological challenges,” say the team. A multicultural team of seven architects, designers, planning and property investment consultants, WindsorPatania is headed by Ryan Windsor and Giovanni Patania, with bases in London, Cambridge and Liverpool.
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