How to plan your outdoor space to make it look amazing

Not feeling the love for your garden? Here's how to make the most of it

From canopied seating areas to bespoke banquettes, creating a garden that’s a true extension of your home can be tricky. A well-designed outdoor space is an investment and Charlotte Rowe, design director of Charlotte Rowe Garden Design, has revealed her top tips for getting it right.

Don’t start planning your garden redesign without reading these tips first …

Become a material girl

“The key to making an outdoor space an extension of the home is to continue elements of the interior scheme outside. This can be done with materials, such as stone flooring, or by bringing the colour palette into the garden.”

Get to know your “green architecture”

“Small gardens lend themselves particularly well to creating an outdoor room, as they have a feeling of intimacy. Designing a room within a larger garden requires some form of partitioning in order to delineate the space and give it a sense of cosiness. I prefer to do this using “green architecture” such as trees, hedging, shrubs or plant pots.”

Don’t let small spaces hold you back

“Where space is limited, consider built-in furniture such as benches and coffee tables. Incorporating raised beds behind a bench and against the wall of a garden will help to soften the boundary. If space allows, go for good-quality outdoor sofas and armchairs, which are more comfortable. Today’s designs are really practical – on many models, even the cushions can be left outside.”

Open up …

“A semi-open structure, such as an arbour, is another way of carving out a seating or dining space within a garden. As well as offering shelter, it will provide privacy in an overlooked urban garden. Be very clear on the planning requirements in your area if you are considering any built structure.”

Make your peace with the British weather …

“Our unreliable weather means that even the most welcoming outdoor room is often unusable other than on balmy summer days and evenings, so consider adding a fireplace, a firepit or some other kind of outdoor heating to encourage year-round use.”

Remember to light up

“Throughout the winter, the garden will only be viewed from inside, so a good lighting scheme is crucial. It should be subtle, so be careful not to over-light. Some of our clients have speakers and even televisions, the final word in outdoor living.”

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Visit the Ideal Home garden shop

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