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We can all agree that it’s been a strange few months and the recent bout of cold weather has not helped matters. In 2020, we were lucky to be blessed with a glorious spring/summer season and our outside spaces for many became our refuge during the first lockdown.
As the warmer months welcomingly draw nearer, now is the time to start considering how to make the most of your garden and top garden designer Jack Wallington has provided us with his expert insight to help make the most of your outdoor space.
Gardening has seen a massive resurgence in popularity in recent years, accelerating during the covid lockdowns. The average Brit spends 86 minutes a week gardening and that’s time well spent because research suggests a stylish outdoor space could add as much as 20% to the value of your home. With spring right around the corner, now’s the time to start planning improvements to your outdoor space, large or small.
The end of winter is the perfect time to prepare, from thinking about giving patios a jet wash and plants a tidy, through to hiring a professional designer to transform the entire garden. If you’re hoping to make the most from your space, first have a think about what you’d like out of it. Do you want social spaces for dining and outdoor lounge areas? Or would you prefer a quiet sanctuary to escape a busy work life, to read a book over a glass of wine? Always start with how you plan to use the space and how many people it needs to fit.
Outdoor furniture has increased in importance in recent years because people now understand furniture is one of the main focal points of a garden, usable outdoor sculpture. Splash out on quality outdoor sofas in particular as these are perfect for unwinding with friends and family. Modular sofas are handy because they allow you to reconfigure the garden for different occasions. Fire pits are also proving popular alongside outdoors lounge spaces.
In terms of plants, it’s always best to start by thinking about evergreen structure from plants like Pittosporum, Magnolia grandiflora and even conifers like Pinus mugo. Confers are in the midst of a long overdue revival after receiving a bad reputation from badly planted rock gardens in the 80s. Light and airy planting is en vogue, with flat top lacy umbels from the likes of Ammi majus and Daucus carota, alongside striking north American prairie daisies, Echinacea purpurea and Rudbeckia fulgida var deamii. I love using ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ and Pennisetum ‘Hameln’ for soft filler between flowers.
Don’t be put off if you only have a balcony or small urban garden, these can be some of the best places to transform. Particularly as large glass bifold doors are opening our homes to the outside, joining the two spaces to make them one. Invest in the best furniture, paving, walls or fences you can afford, the labour involved in hard landscaping can be costly but the better installed they are, the more years of use they will receive. With stone paving, this can be many decades making it a good investment. If you have a larger garden it can be best to break this down into different areas, or outdoor ‘rooms’ while still making them visually cohesive.
If your garden project is likely to be a total makeover from hard landscaping, new furniture and lighting, to stylish planting, consider working with a landscape designer, choosing one with a style you like. A designer will help you reimagine the space from top to bottom, as well as find unique suppliers and the best contractors to install everything well. The cost of a designer is usually offset by savings further down the process and a well designed garden will increase your property value by 77 per cent, according to research from Post Office Money.