As well as providing space for growing plants, fruit and possibly vegetables, most of us now use our gardens for outdoor living as well. We have moved on from a couple of deck chairs on the lawn, we can now be as comfortable outside as we are inside. Here is our short guide to comfortable outdoor living.
Barbecuing is at the heart of outdoor living. Relaxing with friends with a few drinks is now as much a UK tradition as it has been for generations in the USA, Australia and South Africa. Our barbecuing has got more sophisticated, simple grills and disposables are fine for picnics, but in our gardens, we have gone upmarket.
The choice on offer is wide, ranging from under £100 to several thousands of pounds. Ideally have a dedicated area in your garden, with space to put things downs, in effect a scaled down kitchen. If Pizzas are you thing consider an outdoor pizza oven, they also look good.
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Outdoor rooms or dedicated dining areas are the ideal. If the furniture is ready to use, you will use it more. There is a wide choice on offer, from low cost plastic to teak. Cast aluminium is strong, weather resistant and moderately priced. Tablecloths, placemats and candles add a touch of comfort. Round and octagonal tables can seat up to about 6 and are more intimate. Some rectangle tables are extendable for larger parties.
For those of us lucky enough to have the space, an outside sitting room is the latest thing to have. Chairs and sofas made from weatherproof wicker are comfortable and stylish. Quality and prices vary widely so take your time choosing. Loungers and Steamer Chairs are more relaxing but require more space. Make sure there are side table for those all important drinks. Sun lovers may want a sun bed, teak and metal are more durable than the older steel and canvas types.
Plants in pots are essential additions to gardens rooms. Pergolas with climbers over part or all of your outdoor rooms add further interest and will give shade and privacy. Add lighting for extra effect.
Whilst we may love to see the sun out, most of us will soon want shade it it’s too bright or hot.
Parasols are pretty well essential, they can be moved as needed, are light and not expensive. Get a good heavy base for stability. Cantilever types are larger making them ideal for dining and sitting areas. They need firm anchoring.
Gazebos provide shelter from sun, some also from rain and also privacy.
Another option, if you have the space available is to have shaded and sun areas, with some furniture in both.
Your outdoor living season can be extended with something more permanent. Summer Houses, mostly timber built are the ultimate outdoor room. They are also useful for storing cushions and barbecues etc. over winter.
Heating and Lighting
This is another area where we are now spoilt for choice. By lighting your garden, you extend the time you can use it. Lighting also adds interest and atmosphere.
Solid fuel, Gas and Electric heaters can be bought. Wood burning pits, hearths and chimeneas add interest, but give limited heat unless you sit close by. Gas and electric radiant heaters are more effective at heating but are expensive to run, possibly not such an issue for an occasional get together.
During summer protect cushions when not in use from sun, rain and bird droppings.
Although teak and aluminium furniture can be left out all year, if you want them and your barbecues etc. to last, it is worth protecting them over winter. Ideally store them in a shed or outbuilding. If you don’t have indoor storage space, buy purpose made covers or improvise with waterproof tarpaulins available from builder merchants.