Among the many changes to our home lives that the pandemic has brought with it, our relationship with the garden has been one of the most marked. Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released during the first nationwide lockdown reported a 147% rise in time spent doing DIY or gardening and, since then, the mental health benefits of nature and the outdoors have been celebrated by many. Indeed, research commissioned last year by the University of Exeter found that people who spend time in the garden are significantly more likely to report general good health, higher psychological wellbeing and greater physical activity levels compared to those who do not spend time in the garden.
So, as we become increasingly more aware of the importance of this space in our lives, what advice is there for anyone looking to take the garden to another level?
Aesthetics and functionality are, naturally, big selling points when it comes to designing gardens, and we’ve seen a substantial shift in customers turning to porcelain for their patio projects.
Mimicking the best natural flooring products, porcelain paving is becoming more popular not only due to its clean lines and smooth textures but also the low maintenance aspect. Porcelain pavers boast low porosity which means that it is stain resistant and frost-proof.
Unlike stone and decking, porcelain can also be used as a free-flowing option between interior and exterior spaces – a great idea if you have French or bi-folding doors opening onto a patio, where the floor simply continues outside. It’s also fade and slip resistant, ensuring that the floor space, both inside and outside the property, can adapt to many different functions.
When choosing the correct porcelain, there are a few variables to look out for. Make sure you have the correct thickness of porcelain for your installation, whether that’s the full wet bed method, preferred by landscapers, or the pre-installed concrete pad and adhesive method, preferred by tilers.
Styling up small gardens
Whilst there’s no doubting the popularity of the garden over the last 18 months, not every household has the luxury of space. British gardens in London, for example, have shrunk by 4% in the last decade, according to Ordnance Survey data. To create the illusion of space in a smaller garden, one key landscaping design feature is the inclusion of a diagonal or curved path to break up boxed lawn areas. This draws attention to the journey through the garden. Alternatively, consider laying a paved border to encompass the lawn, which can act as a polished, finished edging between flower beds and the grass.
Adding paved and textured borders are a great way to section and finish areas where a patio or terrace may not be possible. Here, a pre-packed, ready-to-use product will overcome many problems relating to site mixing.
Accessorising outdoor space
Once your outdoor space is in place, you can think about how to style it up with the latest on-trend accessories. For example, texturing porcelain paving with shades of the earth and sea will keep the look neutral and bring splashes of warm colour.
If you’re looking to add some furniture to the patio area, think traditional wood or, for a more modern take, rattan. Accessorise with giant floor cushions and hanging chairs or add boho-style throws and cushions to the seating.
Opting for terracotta pots with plants and shrubs will create a natural, biophilic feel, further brightening the patio space. For a more creative approach, use different sized pots placed at different elevations or, for extra colour, include climbing plants or ivy to decorate fixed pillars.
A big colour trend for 2022 is warming Mediterranean palettes such as brown, terracotta, blue, pink and coral.
With the trend for outdoor living continuing, landscapers are increasingly creating separate zoned areas for dining, socialising, cooking and relaxing. Pergolas, for instance, are seeing huge growth and will help ensure that outdoor living is not just confined to the warmer months. To really bring the inside of your home out, why not install a concrete worktop? Just make sure you use a product with sufficient workability, aggregate grading and strength, such as Tarmac Blue Circle High Strength concrete (40N). Complement this with a brick barbeque – simple to build, just use a pre-bagged, ready-to-use mortar mix such as Tarmac Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar which requires only the addition of clean water.
Adding other warmer, natural textures, like fabric or wood, to a concrete worktop can prevent it from feeling too austere.
Gardens and landscaping have always been a key selling point for many new homes, but the significance of the garden space in our lives is more important to homebuyers now than ever. And with that trend looking set to stay, focusing on getting the most out of the garden could prove to be a most worthwhile investment.