adults celebrating in the garden
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How to have your ideal outdoor space

Make another stylish entertaining space from your dingy back garden

Nowadays there are lots of ways you can make your outdoor space usable and comfortable, a space where your family and friends can hang out. Gone is the idea of a wasteland full of kids toys or just somewhere you stick a sun-lounger when the weather permits. Making it part of your everyday living space means you can increase your living area without going to the expense of moving or extending your property. The best way of assessing where to place your furniture is to ask yourself what you need it for; just a quiet glass of wine at the end of the day, then place a small set where it will catch the last rays of the setting sun. If you entertain and cook on the barbecue a lot then place the furniture near the kitchen door, after all you don’t want to be carrying food and crockery or nipping indoors for another bottle and having to run all the way down the garden.

One of the first questions you need to address is how many people are going to regularly use the space; if it’s only going to be the family then a 4 seater furniture set will suffice but if you like entertaining and are going to be firing up the BBQ for friends and family then you may need to go for a larger set. If you are only occasionally going to be entertaining, then investing in some folding chairs may be the answer. You don’t have to worry about lack of storage in winter as all our garden furniture is completely weatherproof and will come through the harshest winter looking pristine; just secure it if high winds are forecast.

If you have a large space then having a large set or different sets for dining and relaxing is not an issue but most people have to be clever with their space and this is where the combination dining/relaxing furniture comes into it’s own; tables are adjustable and the often chairs have backs which tilt allowing them to be more relaxing. An example of this is the LIFE Outdoor Living Aya Square Corner Set which has comfortable modular furniture and an adjustable table; the grey resin weave is maintenance free and ideal for a contemporary urban space. The modular furniture can also be used to divide the garden into zones and keep the kids play space separate from the grown-ups entertaining and relaxing space.

LIFE Outdoor Living Aya Square Corner Set
LIFE Outdoor Living Aya Square Corner Set 

Liven up that secluded dead corner with a single seat where you can sit and relax with a book and glass of something! If it’s only going to be a seat to pause and admire your garden there is huge choice of single seats, including timber, aluminium and resin weave. For a longer sit why not go for one of the single cocoons, filled with cushions it makes the perfect nest to enjoy an afternoon snooze.

Bramblecrest Frampton double Cocoon
Bramblecrest Frampton Double Cocoon

Shade from the sun is essential so choose as high a UV rated parasol as possible and make sure it is large enough to cover the whole seating area. There are two kinds of parasol; the one which fits through a hole in the table and doesn’t need a very heavy base as the table acts as an anchor, the disadvantage is that is cannot be moved to accommodate the shifting sun. The second option is the free-standing cantilever parasol which needs a heavy base to counteract the weight of the arm and cover; the advantage of this parasol is that it can be sited anywhere but they are a little pricier than the ‘through table’ types.

Incorporating a barbecue or a pizza oven into your outdoor space will encourage people to congregate outdoors. The pizza oven can involve the guests in making their own pizzas, leaving you more time to enjoy the party without slaving over a hot grill. Another benefit of cooking outdoors is there is no messy kitchen to clean! One essential is to site the BBQ on an even surface which is cleanable, such as stone pavers or composite boards, which are also non-slip. The decking of old has gone out of fashion, it’s slippery when wet and needs quite a bit of maintenance to keep the algae at bay, and there are so many more stylish and maintenance free surfaces available.

Traeger Pro Series 34 wood pellet grill
Traeger Pro Series 34 Wood Pellet Grill

Adding a fire pit to your space allows you to sit out long after the sun has gone down. The Chesneys range are not only a fireplace but also combine a small grill, ideal for a small space or if you don’t want an additional cooking appliance. The clean lines of the European styled Morso and Happy Cocooning ranges sit stylishly in a contemporary urban space, whereas the Jamie Oliver Fire Pit Set, which also includes 4 comfy armchairs, is ideal for a traditional English cottage style garden.

Finally all you need are the finishing touches of lighting, cushions, throws and an outdoor rug. Lighting can be as simple or as complicated as you want from a few strategically positioned solar lights to an integrated mains system controlled from your smartphone. From the initial outlay there are no more costs to incur apart from food and fuel for the barbecue. You don’t have to spend a fortune, a few hundred pounds for the BBQ and fireplace, a bit of ingenuity and DIY can give you a stylish urban industrial look, or you can spend thousands, the choice is endless, so why not enjoy your space this summer, and autumn.