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Get in the zone! How to make more of your garden this summer

Gardens have become highly desirable and have had to work hard at increasingly being the centre of our lives, as people make the most of their outdoor space amid the pandemic.

Figures from GoCompare reveal that 47 per cent of households have spent money on garden improvements during lockdown, with a total of £25.9billion spent on enhancing our ‘outdoor rooms’ with lighting, furniture, canopies, pizza ovens, hot tubs and more.

Those lucky enough to have gardens have been using them extensively during the past year. Gardens have become places to exercise, play, eat, entertain, grow food and relax away from the confines of the same four walls day-in and day-out.

With so many diverse needs to serve, some are turning to garden zoning to help make the most of their outdoor space.

Dividing your garden into zones can help to make the most of the outdoor space available 

It is important to zone your planting areas, just as you would with other areas of your garden

It is important to zone your planting areas, just as you would with other areas of your garden

An outdoor kitchen is perfect for everything from socialising outside to relaxed family meals, and can feel like an extension of your home

An outdoor kitchen is perfect for everything from socialising outside to relaxed family meals, and can feel like an extension of your home

Jack Simpson, of Nomad Developments, explained: ‘Garden zoning means you can make the most of the space available.’

His garden at West Hill Place, in London’s Putney, features distinct zones for its heated pool, bar area with seating, outdoor cooking and dining area and lawn. There are also areas for established bushes and mature trees, as well as easy-to-maintain plants.

‘Look at the space you’ve got and think creatively about how you want to use it,’ he said. 

‘But also think practically. If you don’t want to dedicate time maintaining a lawn, for example, opt for artificial grass. And if you’re installing an outdoor kitchen, think about storage, power, plumbing and the durability of the materials you’re going to use.’

Dining and cooking area

If you’re refreshing the look of your garden for the summer, an outdoor kitchen could be just what you desire.

An outdoor kitchen is perfect for everything from socialising outside to relaxed family meals, and can feel like an extension to your home.

The same can be said of outdoor bar zones. Whether it is a quiet, after-work cocktail to decompress, or a few beers in the sunshine when socialising outside, having a bar in the garden can prove a big attraction.

There are various designs depending on your budget – and you’re not excluded from having an outdoor kitchen area if your finances only stretch to £100 and you’re willing to build it yourself

The creator of this outdoor pizza kitchen – Wayne Perrey – insists that the design is simple enough that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build it – and he has provided a worksheet and a YouTube video to guide people through the build process.

It could equally double as a cheap way to build a bar or a worktop area to combine with a barbecue for an outdoor kitchen feel. 

The creator of this outdoor pizza kitchen - Wayne Perrey - insists that the design is simple enough that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build it

The creator of this outdoor pizza kitchen – Wayne Perrey – insists that the design is simple enough that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build it

Planting areas

Greenery is also key to creating the ultimate summer garden space. Landscape architect Matt Keighley, of Rosebank Landscaping, advises focusing on this from the outset when designing a garden.

He said: ‘Once you’ve decided where you want your outdoor kitchen zone, your seating areas, your lawn and so forth, think about plants before you dash straight out to buy furniture.

‘It’s important to zone your planting areas, just as it is the other areas of your garden. Areas of dense shrubbery and mature trees are ideal for wildlife and also for promoting a sense of peace and connection with nature.’

He suggested considering the planting palette as the glue for your garden that threads all your zones together, adding depth, texture, colour and interest throughout.

The pandemic has prompted many families to try their hand at growing their own produce for the first time, according to Keighley. Zones for herb gardens and raised beds for vegetables have proved popular.

Many gardeners are also doing their bit for the bees, with bee-friendly flowers and bee hotels featuring strongly. And bee-friendly zones are well worth building into even small outdoor spaces.

Break convention by introducing multiple seating areas, using spaces to lounge, dine and generally relax in

Break convention by introducing multiple seating areas, using spaces to lounge, dine and generally relax in

Seating areas

Another important zone is a seating area. Keightley said: ‘Opting for different seating areas in sunnier and shadier parts of the garden provides plenty of versatility, so don’t limit yourself to just the one seating zone if you have the space for more. 

‘Think how the seating placement will work with your other zones, as well. If you’re skittish about insects, for example, don’t put your relaxed seating zone next to your bee-friendly flowers.’

And break convention by introducing multiple seating areas, using spaces to lounge, dine and generally relax in. 

The more positions for seating, the more you can use every inch of space and appreciate a garden. 

The more areas for seating, the more you can use every inch of space and appreciate a garden

The more areas for seating, the more you can use every inch of space and appreciate a garden

City gardens generally take advantage of part-sun, part -hade, which is something that lends itself perfectly to interesting seating locations through the day.

When it comes to furnishing your new outdoor space, Rachel Clark of Alexander James Interiors, explained: ‘Introduce a range of furniture – a lounge area with rattan sofas and tables, a dining area with rattan chairs and an opulent rattan lounge bed for those much-needed snoozes in the sun. 

‘Opt for furniture that makes you feel like you’re on that beach holiday you may have missed recently, incorporating stylish retro style loungers to relax in.’

Clark points out the value of stylish lighting, creating a garden sanctuary that maximises outdoor living.

‘Make the most of your garden lighting using lanterns, wall lights and pendant lights to create atmosphere during long summer evenings,’ she said. ‘Garden mirrors are the perfect way to add a stylish edge to your garden design and are perfect for smaller outdoor areas to create an illusion of space.’

And finally, if you have the space, she suggested adding a quirky feel by hanging hammocks and swing chairs from the trees – perfect family space for fun and relaxation.

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