It’s time to get your garden ready for the new season ahead. Invest in chic furniture, bright plants and stylish accessories to make the outdoors your new living room.
Room to breathe
From outdoor rugs to stylish day beds, there is a wealth of garden furniture and accessories to choose from to make your garden more than just a green space outside. The new generation of designs enable us to extend our homes and use the garden as a second living room – once the weather warms up, of course. But what are the first steps in prepping the garden?
George Seabright, owner of G&M Landscapes, says: “Spring is the busiest time of year as the garden wakes up from winter. Digging over is a good way to break up compacted heavy soils, allowing air and water in, as well as improving drainage. Weed and feed your lawn in early spring and over-seed sparce areas. For the first few cuts of the season make sure the mower blades are not too low. If using a spray weed-killer, try to do it when rain is not expected and on a calm day, to reduce the risk of spray blowing onto plants you want to keep.”
Think about how you will use your space outside. For a practical patio area, opt for Stone and Ceramic Warehouse’s sophisticated Altea Paving, which is perfect for a seamless home-to-garden feel. For more of a relaxed way to spend the long days, invest in modern, modular sofas and chairs, such as the Egg Chair available from Wyevale Garden Centres or Neptune’s Harrington Sofa. The safari-themed Lene Bjerre collection available at Sweetpea and Willow, includes the chic Judith Hammock and Clara Couch. For something even more glamourous, Bridgman’s Hampstead Day Bed brings a touch of Ibiza to your lawn.
Lowri Allpress at Jo Alexander, a Cambridgeshire-based garden furniture specialist, gives her advice: “Think of the garden as an extension of your home and install comfortable sofas and day beds with big, plump cushions and parasols to keep cool this summer.”
“At Jo Alexander, we are influenced by a Far East design ethos – and our pieces, such as the reclaimed teak furniture range, are designed in Indonesia, China and Vietnam,” she continues.
Meanwhile, at John Lewis, a tribal, Amazonian theme is on trend. “Go for global-inspired prints in earthy colours and woven textures for a bohemian edge,” says Vicky Angell, Outdoor Living buyer at John Lewis. “Consider statement pieces of furniture paired with vibrant oversized floor cushions in leafy green shades, to truly embrace the jungle fusion vibe in your own garden.”
James Swayne, of garden designers The Dirty Digger, gives his top three tips for garden trends for 2017
- The rustic look is very popular. Use natural products, such as sandstone and oak sleepers, to create an organic feel. These are materials that will age well with the garden and will not have to be replaced.
- Dramatic topiary. Hedge cutting is an art-form and there is a definite demand for wow-factor box hedges and large shrubs.
- Dense areas of bulbs. With good selection, bulb planting provides an all-year coverage of colour as they ‘pop’ up at different times. They are zero maintenance and with well thought-out planning, they give dramatic results throughout the year.
Once the weather gets balmier, dining alfresco is one of the joys of the summer season. Vanessa Arbuthnott, textile designer, agrees: “Outside entertaining should be as comfortable and stylish as indoor dinner parties. Create comfort and style with fabric canopies, oilcloth-covered tables and an abundance of cushions. The fabrics in my Bohemian collection lend themselves well to summer entertaining due to their breezy colour combinations.”
Extex’s range of outdoor textiles, meanwhile, are weather-proofed and practical for outdoor gatherings but do not skimp on the style-factor. While Lexington Company’s Hamptons-inspired tablecloths and crockery give a smart aesthetic.
Kristina Lindhe, founder of Lexington Company, says: “Eating alfresco with cotton napkins, light colours and tea lights is the ultimate way to spend an evening – all you need is good company.“
Whether you choose a rattan-style dining set, a modern metal look or a traditional wooden style, go for furniture that is practical, hardwearing and something that can easily be stored away or covered in the winter months.
Garden in colour
Look again at paint colours for the garden – there’s now more choice available then ever before so opt for newer shades than the standard brown, black and forest-green. Sandtex’s 10 Year colours are exceptionally long-lasting and come in contemporary hues, such as Hot Mustard and Cloudy Day (a pale grey).
“Make the ordinary extraordinary in the garden with upbeat paint colours inspired by nature,” advises David Mottershead, managing director of paint experts, Little Greene. “Look to colours that create a contrast to green foliage – our Atomic Red works particularly well.”
Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball, also agrees that being creative when painting outside features helps to add a sense of style to the garden. “You don’t need acres of land or lots or garden furniture to create an inspiring outside area. If you have minimal space to play with, look at metal railings and masonry walls as an opportunity to freshen up your garden. Soft multi-tonal blues, bold greens and greys, like Pigeon, have a relaxed feel and are perfect for gardens.”
Finally, don’t forget that stunning lighting features do not have to be confined to the house. Chris Jordan, managing director at Christopher Wray, says: “Decorative exterior lighting is essential in creating a relaxing outdoor space. Architectural plants are most conductive to lighting and multi-stem plants allow the light to travel through the canopy creating volume and depth. Add drama to an exterior space, through lighting tall trees, up lighting the trunk and the canopy from multiple locations.”
Three must-haves for a stylish garden
- Give the eye something to look at with a modern garden sculpture, like the metal spheres at Moore Designs (BELOW)
- Add innovative lighting in the form of Exo’s glow-in-the-dark furniture at My Furniture (BELOW)
- A Morso firepit gives a welcoming ambiance and can be used to barbecue food (BELOW)
EDITOR’S PICKS: MY TOP TEN BUYS FOR THE GARDEN
Laguna Indoor-Outdoor Rug, £49.95, cuckooland.com
Wire Tealight Holder, £3.50, wilko.com
Salsa Garden Chair, £60, johnlewis.com
Welcome Gnome, £56.95, limelace.co.uk
Distressed Metal Dorset Garden Mirror, £128, thefarthing.co.uk
Metal Garden Bench, £198, miafleur.com
Jacky Garden Floor Cushion, £35, raggedrose.com
Garden Trading Clock and Thermometer, £40, gardentrading.co.uk
Barker and Stonehouse Castello Tables (Set of Two), £95, barkerandstonehouse.co.uk
Droog Shadylace Chris Kabel Green Parasol, £284.95, designmyworld.net
A version of this article also appears in the April issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine