Jazz up your garden so you can get the most out of it for summer

Agarden should be as important as any room in your house. Gardens are the space between you and the outside world, a private haven and public display, so they should reflect both guises while also providing you with an environment that delights and inspires, every day of the year.

To make the most of your garden, whatever its size, paying close attention to the following aspects of design will enable your outdoor space to fulfil its potential.

■ PLANNING
A coherent design for your space is paramount. Many garden spaces have odd plants and features added over years to arrive at their present “look”. Understanding the dynamics of space, adhering to a palette of colours and utilising the most suitable textures are fundamentals of design. A professional designer should consider microclimate, soil type, plant suitability and maintenance needs before designing your space. His or her plan should reflect the complexity of garden design. Failure to appreciate this explains why many gardens fall short of their owners’ expectations.

■ LIGHTING
All gardens can benefit from a sensitive lighting scheme. This can markedly extend the useable time spent in the garden The main error made with lighting is the use of floodlights. The designer’s main focus is to ensure that the light cast is the only visible illumination within the garden, rather than the lamp itself. There are many effects that can be conjured up with imaginative light placement, with ground lighting across a textured surface, trees and pergolas lit from below, to a moonlight lamp hung high in a tree. Good lighting is a fabulous asset, but great lighting changes your appreciation of the garden enormously.

An essential item for any space, large or small.

■ GREENING THE WALLS
In a small garden, the emphasis is most often on the space available to get out into the garden, which almost always decreases the planting area. A recent innovation is the introduction of a green wall. There are several systems available, but the ability to turn your vertical surfaces in to productive or decorative planting is a boon to those with small courtyards or terraces. Most are available with integral watering systems, so upkeep is minimal.

■ NEW MEDIA
So many features that we normally associate with the inside of our houses are finding their way outside into the garden. The use of kitchens, heaters and even televisions and computers has spread to the great outdoors, making that summer twilight time outside a much greater pleasure. Currently, there is a fashion for home cinema, but perhaps with the advent of technology in the garden, “garden cinema” may be just around the corner.

■ AWNINGS
Covering your seating space in the garden is becoming essential in our changing and changeable climate. A permanent cover takes up space and reduces flexibility but an automatic awning can transform a patio into a luxurious room with the flick of a switch. Whether you need the cover for shade in the height of summer, or for shelter in the spring or autumn, the provision of an awning is great addition to any garden.

■ ALL THINGS GREEN
The watchword here is “faux”. The fashion for manmade plants and lawns is having a huge impact on gardens, especially in cities. The benefits are the lack of watering and maintenance, with faux lawn becoming especially popular – at a distance, the effect is remarkably realistic.

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