August 24, 2012

Clever Garden Design - Creating An Outdoor Living Space You'll Actually Use!

A garden can take on a variety of functions. For some, it is a sanctuary removed from the stresses and annoyances of modern life. For others, it is a project that exemplifies the beauty of nature as a living piece of art to be looked at with admiration. Yet others view is as a location for playing a variety of games and other leisure activities.

Outdoor living spaces are endlessly changeable. But many fail to utilize their yards; after being cultivated in a particular manner, many gardens sit unused. Other yards sadly never receive any attention at all, with home-owners unsure how to start, or what to do to make good use of this valuable space. By implementing clever and inventive designs, a garden can be transformed into a space that is actually used regularly, in certain cases as much or even more than the lounge!

Many who enjoy reading argue that outdoor reading is the best kind. Particularly for those living in temperate climates, spending an entire weekend outdoors can be a tempting proposition. For them, a priority on creating relaxing spaces can be key to creating an outdoor space that is actually used. These gardeners should consider emphasizing shaded reading locations. Garden supplies stores often have a collection of unique and beautiful trees that can form a wonderful centerpiece to an outdoor space. Matched with a hard brick or tile surface, a set of carefully selected trees can form a patio great for reading, entertaining or having a drink after a long work day. Adding a water feature can create a natural soundtrack to your relaxing too, with much less effort than you may expect at first thought – prefabricated fountains or ponds can be up-and-running in moments (although if you're adding fish, make sure to read up on their care – you'll have to wait a while before adding them).

Many homeowners are installing outdoor living rooms attached to their homes. Outdoor, weather-resistant furniture is being designed to look as good as furniture used indoors, and roofs made of canvas can protect televisions and other electronics from the elements. Using an outdoor living room, families can spend some of their television and movie time outdoors during cool evenings. A halfway point between these two extremes for when the weather is less permitting could be a conservatory -  you'd be pleasantly surprised at how low conservatory prices are, given they can dramatically increase your home's size and value – they're very popular in Europe.

Those who envision their garden as a place for recreational activities have options available as well. A volleyball court is easy to maintain and can help encourage family members to get outside more often – it's a good way of getting exercise without realising you're doing a workout, or just as stress-relief after a hard-day's work! Those in warmer climates may wish to buy sand to create an authentic beach volleyball feel. Badminton is a great alternative for those with less space. Small, concrete basketball courts have been a staple of outdoor living spaces in the United States for a long time, and with a bit of creativity these spaces can be tastefully incorporated within a garden. And for those looking for less conventional outdoor activities, a bocce ball court's long but narrow footprint can be a great choice – what could be more fun than inviting friends over to try a new sport and then to have a few beers over a barbecue?

Gardens that emphasize beauty can also incorporate practical features that lead to more frequent use. For those with large gardens, a chess and checkers board can be an artistic touch that draws attention and beckons family members and guests to come outside. Using plants as playing pieces, these boards give an sense of fun to traditional landscaping. Walkways are often neglected by gardeners; installing walking paths and benches can entice family and guests to take a stroll that may lead to a day out in the sun.

Using a garden as a living space greatly increases the usable square footage of a home. Too often, these spaces are designed beautifully but left to sit unused and unappreciated. By creating some clever features, homeowners can transform their gardens into one of the most used "rooms" in their homes.

This post was written by Sarah – from a home improvement company in the UK. You'll be glad to hear she gets into her garden every day!


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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