It’s been more than a year since our lives were turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

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One thing many of us have learned is just how important outdoor space is for our physical and mental wellbeing. Garden design has become an on-trend pastime, and it’s not hard to see why. 

If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space, now is the perfect time to think about creating the garden of your dreams. The weather is starting to warm up and bring with it a few rays of cautious optimism. Whether your ideal garden is a relaxing, mysterious environment, a busy and productive veggie growing haven, or a place to spend time with the kids, read on and you’ll find some useful tips and a bit of inspiration to get you started. 

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Planning

Any home renovation needs a strong plan. The more effort and detail you put in at this stage, the easier the entire process becomes. The first question to ask yourself is: how will my garden primarily be used? This will inform every practical and creative factor in the design and execution of your renovation. Whatever you will use your garden for, it’s important to take every member of the family into account, children and pets especially. You’ll need to determine what kind of storage solutions will work best for you, both aesthetically and practically. And putting together as watertight a budget as possible is also a must – the more detailed the better, but always leave aside a little money for unforeseen bumps in the road.

Lay of the land

Whether you want to grow your own fruit and veg, produce cut flowers or simply dot a few beds or pots around the lawn you’ll first need to assess the lay of the land. In terms of plants, a successful garden needs water, sun and soil to grow. Make a note of which areas get the most and least sun, which are exposed to wind and the type of soil in each. This will determine where you sow plants and veggies. A water source nearby is essential. This could simply be a hose or sprinkler, but there are excellent alternatives when it comes to irrigation such as soaker hoses, in-ground sprinklers and ollas. 

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Design

This is the fun part. Let your creative juices flow and your imagination run wild. Start by making a scaled plan of your outdoor space. As you now know where the sun falls on any given day, you can plan your planting to maximize the effect. Select the best places for seating and dining areas and create that dreamlike afternoon atmosphere to relax (or snooze) in afterwards. Focal points such as water features, statues or even the lawn – often the centrepiece – can be placed in strategic points to create rhythm. Play areas for the kids, places for the dog to run wild and the cat to hide should be pencilled in, as well as decking and zones, if space allows. Remember to consult your budget!

Jungle or forest

If your yard is blessed with many hours of full sun, why not plant a selection of tropical plants? Plants such as elephant ears and bird of paradise bring with them an amazing jungle-like atmosphere, and are surprisingly easy to care for. Add some clumping bamboo as a screening solution – bamboo grows very fast and can get up to 12 feet tall. For those in more temperate areas a selection of lush forest-like plants layered in tonal greens and at different heights creates a tranquil, dreamlike outdoor space you’ll love spending time in. 

Vegetable garden

If you’re the green-fingered type you may want to plant out your garden with a selection of vegetables. Maintaining a sustainable garden is great for physical and mental health as well as putting delicious produce on the table. It’s also a great way to get the kids involved and encourage them to eat their greens. Sustainability is the name of the game, and all your vegetable peelings, grass cuttings, eggshells and tea bags can go into compost to create rich, nutrient-packed fertilizer. In fact, compost is essential for all types of growing, from lawns to flowers to vegetables. 

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Lighting

To really set the mood, garden lighting comes in all shapes and sizes, and is more affordable than ever. Create an atmosphere with a wall wash, or place spike lights in the lawn for use at night. Fairy lights are very cheap and extremely effective all year round. 

Lighting is also practical – wall lights and bollard lights illuminate pathways and staircases making sure that you can move around safely at night. If you want to keep it simple, lanterns come in all shapes and sizes from minimal, elegant contemporary style to ornate and decorative.

Creating the garden of your dreams isn’t difficult, and can be a fantastically fulfilling DIY job with the right preparation and planning. And in these uncertain times, having a relaxing and fulfilling outdoor space is a must for any home.