With the sunshine making a more regular appearance, it’s time to turn the spotlight on your garden. Whether yours is a large expanse, a city terrace or a balcony, there are plenty of ways to unlock its beauty, from unusual planting to subtle lighting, as well as the latest on-trend furniture and accessories
1. SWAP INSIDE FOR OUT
Make your garden an extension of your living space. Just as the sociable areas of your home revolve around a practical and convivial seating and table configuration, so a terrace, whatever its size, will benefit from a similar layout. Use an outdoor sofa and armchair combination, such as Oka’s (www.oka.com) Pienza range, from £345, for a chic look. Anchor the look with an oversized outdoor rug such as those by La Redoute (www.laredoute.co.uk). Adding a fire pit will make your outdoor living space work even harder on chillier days. We love the contemporary look of Morsø’s (www.morsoe.com/en/) Outdoor Firepit, £295.
2. TAKE INSPIRATION FROM NATURE
The current trend for bold botanicals and jungle prints goes hand-in-hand with summer living. Lift the look with colourful print cushions and graphic patterns in a combination of zesty and earthy greens, punchy citrus and pops of pink. Check out Ikea’s (www.ikea.com) range of vibrant ethnic cushions and rugs for an instant update.
3. LIGHT IT RIGHT
Lighting specific areas and focal points in the garden will create interest and provide a backdrop to the house all year round. Don’t be tempted to light the whole garden – bear in mind that areas of darkness are essential to the success of a lighting scheme. Just as you would inside, opt for a combination of practical and ambient lighting. John Cullen (www.johncullenlighting.com) offers a good range of outdoor uplighters and downlighters, while John Lewis’s (www.johnlewis.com) colourful Solar bulb line lights, £20, will add a playful twist.
4. PLAN THE LAYOUT
Unlocking your garden’s potential is essential. Make a note of the sun’s arc so that you know how it moves across the garden. Think about the views your garden offers – a small plot will feel bigger if it can exploit a longer eye line, while clever planting can be an effective screen against undesirable views. In a small space, less is more, so consider bold, oversized pots and position them in the furthest corners of your garden, using the longest view lines possible to draw the eye outwards and create an illusion of space.
5. INTRODUCE A FOCAL POINT
In a small garden, a centerpiece will draw the eye and add impact, whether you choose a sculpture, a simple water feature, a specimen tree or an outdoor fireplace complete with mantelpiece. Correct positioning is important – some design statements will be most successful in a standout location, while others work better tucked away within planting so that they are only revealed upon exploration
6. DINE IN STYLE
Prioritise space for sitting or dining and avoid overcrowding a terrace with too many varying pot shapes and sizes – aim instead for one or two statement pieces, such as a pair of bay trees or a sumptuous window box of favourite blooms. A natural and rough surfaced table and some colourful cushions, placemats and coasters will bring the garden alive. If space is at a premium, try a simple bistro set in a zesty finish. Candlelight adds instant atmosphere and burning citronella scents will keep mosquitos away. Hurricane lamps, such as The White Company’s (www.thewhitecompany.com) Large Captured Glass Lantern, £40, are both practical and elegant.
Dress your table with as much care as you would lavish on an indoor dining table. Al fresco dining is a good opportunity to be a little more adventurous, so try using inexpensive coloured glassware, patterned tablecloths and rustic ceramics for an informal but elegant feel. You won’t go wrong with John Lewis’s (www.johnlewis.com) shatterproof Dakara Bubble tumblers, £3 each, in a range of jewel colours, while Summerill & Bishop (www.summerillandbishop.com) is the perfect pit stop for sumptuous linens and utterly chic tableware.
8. MAXIMISE YOUR ASSETS
Your garden can be impactful whatever its size. Often, less is more. ‘Using simple, clipped box planting in containers at strategic locations can be an effective use of a small space,’ advises garden designer Andrew Wilson (www.wmstudio.co.uk). ‘Try using plants of a similar height, foliage, colour or branching pattern for a sense of cohesion.’
9. PREP FOR AFTER DARK
Ambient lighting will encourage guests to linger around the table on summer evenings. ‘Instead of large wall-mounted options, try creating little corners of light using lanterns or by uplighting plants,’ advises The Chelsea Gardener’s (www.chelseagardener.com) Jorge Rodriguez-Martin. Dress chairs with throws for added warmth after dark, encase pillar candles in breeze-protected hurricane lamps and invest in some solar lighting for ease.
10. BE INVENTIVE
Remember that summer living should feel informal and impromptu. If all else fails, look to your interiors for inspiration. The kitchen table can be brought outside and covered with a white linen cloth for instant summer dining; a simple, generous sized garden umbrella in a chic neon pop can provide adequate shade, and indoor cushions propped against dining chairs add colour and comfort. At this time of year, reverse the logic of bringing the outside in; instead taking the inside out can work wonders.