Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Designing an outdoor living space

As the first warm day in spring hits, our attentions turn back to our gardens, often not set foot in over the winter. Minds start focusing on creating an entertaining space – whiling away summer evenings with friends and family, but what’s the best way to create an outdoor living space?

Start by watching where the sun moves in your garden and pick out what us designer’s term as ‘the sweet spots’ – the places where you would want to sit or linger, bearing in mind if you prefer to sit in the sun or shade. This is not always directly outside the house.

Making an area into a garden room will give the feeling of separation and enclosure by perhaps adding an arbour or pergola. This could also be achieved with planting or even garden screens. Gardens that don’t reveal themselves all at once give the visitor a chance to explore.

Choice of materials will be influenced by the style of the house, interiors and the genius loci (sense of place). Do you prefer a traditional or modern look, naturalistic or clean lines? Look at material samples in sun and shade, when wet and dry as our perception of colour can change. Light paving will reflect light back in shadier areas, whereas dark paving can make an area with less light feel gloomy. Dark paving in sun will absorb some of the light, but will heat up quicker than lighter colours, so you may want to consider a textured surface in this instance. The advantage dark paving does have is it shows the dirt up less.

You may also want to consider lighting. It’s important to select the colour temperature of the lights as well as the style of the units – warm lights (so those with red and yellow shades) will be within 1,000 to 5,000 Kelvins and will create a welcoming and relaxed ambiance. The eco-friendly option is to go with solar-lighting. This has come a long way and is now a good alternative to mains lighting. The important thing to remember is only have lighting on when you need it and try to limit it so wildlife is not distracted.

Posted: 16/01/2024 16:25:50 by Pamela Barden