I must admit, I absolutely love a good garden. The variation spaces that can be created and plants that can be used open up a whole new exciting world and with us stepping slowly from spring into summer it's a great time to get out there and use up your outside space as much as you can. Here are my tips to keep in mind when tackling your outside space, be it a balcony, a courtyard or a whole garden.
Follow the sun
Keep an eye out for which parts of the garden get the most direct light and which are more shaded. It will help guide which plants you place there and what you use the spaces for. If you can head out into your space multiple times of day through the year and notice the light levels change. Some places will never get direct light where as others might be constantly sunny! Check out this blog on how to sun map your garden
Layering matters both in a front to back, but also in a low to high dimension. Think about having plants with different heights growing from front to back in your garden. Also planting a whole area in one plant can make it visually uninteresting so consider making your borders or hedges more varied with different textures, colours and variations. Also consider plants that s stars at different times of the year such as berry bushes in the autumn, hellebores for an early spring flower and acers for the summer foliage
As with your home, different parts of your outside space can be used for various uses. Think about where to have your outside dining area (does it need to be in a sunny spot to keep you warm?) Consider adding other seating areas that encourage people through the garden and create different view points. Do you need a kids play-area? Do you have space for an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor lounge space? Do you want a veg patch?
Entice the senses
Encourage full immersion in the space with all the senses being activated. Scented lavender, tactile grasses or mosses, the sound of water over rocks or of wind through reeds, the taste of fruit straight off the branches, and the gentle sway of a swing. Using perspectives to create different viewpoints from the various areas in the garden will make it seem bigger and more interesting.
Think of where you will need your utilities (they need to be passed first). If you wanted a pond at the end of the garden, you might need a pump and therefore electricity and maybe even a water source - you don't want to be passing these after you have finally managed to get the lawn looking just right! Accent lighting of any specific trees or in other areas of the garden all need to be planned and specified so that the utilities can be passed to that area. If you wanted a barbeque at the end of the garden, consider how you are going to get coal to it and have it stored safely (might need to plan for built storage). Also, if you wanted to wash your hands, will you need a sink out there too? All things to think about and consider before you get started.
Outside spaces fill me with excitement as they really come to life in the warmer months but also they increase your private living space. They create a place where you can intimately interact with nature and make the most of the good weather.