Having visited various back gardens over the last 12 months, I’ve noticed a growing trend – to create an undercover seating area to host friends and family outdoors! If you are thinking the same here are my top tips for creating a cosy seating area for all weathers:
• Use an existing pergola or outdoor structure and add a roof, either permanently in corrugated iron or polycarbonate plastic or temporarily using bamboo screening or a tarpaulin and weave it through battens to secure it.
• Use a sail, awning or tarpaulin to create a semi-permanent option – get inspiration from camping websites on how to pitch it with guy ropes, poles or to existing structures. Try to create sides using angles and lower placed fixings.
• Adapt a gazebo to create a room like feel, creating side panels with pallets or screening.
• Use festoon or fairy lights hooked up into the roof and around the edges to create a warm glow. Bring candles outside from inside and repurpose, jam jars, Kilner jars or vases.
• Cosy up outdoor furniture with rugs, blankets and cushions to sit on or for over laps. You could even provide or ask guests to bring hot water bottles if it is particularly cold and make it a fun and unforgettable evening!
• How about a real fire? Whether you have a BBQ, chiminea or firepit the key is using dry wood and keeping it small to start with. Start with a small pile of kindling built into a pyramid shape and once that is going add your bigger logs. Dried pinecones can be used alongside for kindling and birch bark is a great material for starting fires too. And everyone loves a marshmallow!
• Really bring the indoors outdoors by creating a room. Hang pictures or posters, got a spare fireplace hanging around? Set it up to look like your front room. Got any old furniture or lampshades? Bring them out too and go as far as you want with the ‘room’ theme.
• Consider creating a utility or bar area near your seating area to avoid too many trips back inside missing all the fun. Stock it with glassware, crockery, cutlery, matches and fire tools and even a cool box for drinks. Or if your seating area is near a shed consider a permanent ‘beer and trifle’ fridge which will become particularly useful as an overflow fridge!
• Use plant pots to soften the area, hide cables or ugly bits.
• Use your Christmas wreath as a table decoration or fill vases and jugs full of green foliage picked in your garden on tables like you would inside! Herbs like Rosemary and Lavender especially add a lovely scent and can of course be used to flavour a Gin and Tonic!
I hope that’s given you some inspiration for using your garden in these strange times. If your space isn’t big enough a chair with a blanket and an umbrella each is just as cosy for a chat with your best friend. Renée is a local gardener and designer. You can read more about her work and services at www.thegirlwhogardens.co.uk