Make room in the garden

PUBLISHED: 13:52 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 February 2013

Different structure suit different areas

Different structure suit different areas

More and more people are looking to make better use of their garden to create additional living space and enhance its amenity value. Malcolm Veitch, Senior Designer with Notcutts Landscape and Garden Design Consultants in Solihull, looks at some o...

More and more people are looking to make better use of their garden to create additional living space and enhance its amenity value. Malcolm Veitch, Senior Designer with Notcutts Landscape and Garden Design Consultants in Solihull, looks at some of the options available.

In the wake of the much-discussed 'credit crunch' we're seeing changes in the housing market - property prices in some areas are falling and bricks and mortar are no longer quite the finacial 'sure thing' that they once were.

Consequently many home owners are looking to stay put and make the most of what they've already got by investing in improvements to their home and garden. That may be achieved by adding a permanent extension, through a loft conversion or, increasingly, by creating an extra room, or rooms, in the garden.

Making the most of the available exterior space should be every landscape designer's objective and in addition to creating stunning, yet practical garden designs we are increasingly finding that clients are looking for advice on maximising the benefits from the overall area in which their home stands, including how they integrate an outdoor room.

I use the word 'integrate' because that is what precisely should happen. Rather than simply being sited wherever it will fit, the new structure should be planned into the overall design of the garden.

There was a time, and not so long ago, when any additional building in the garden would have amounted to nothing more than a garden shed, which may have been ideal for storing the lawn mower but wasn't really suitable for anything more. These days it's all very different. Today's home-owners are far more discerning and are looking for a more technically-advanced space that is of much higher quality, better insulated, more comfortable and with plenty of glass area to let in the light.

From the point of timing, there's probably never been a better time to utilise the space in your garden. A garden room will provide the perfect place for so many different things - relaxing, keeping fit or somewhere for the kids to call their own.

But it is important to make sure that the new building sits comfortably within its surroundings. As in any aspect of the garden, quality and attention to detail will always pay dividends but, in addition to choosing a good-quality structure it is also vital to pay attention to detail in the area which surrounds the building.

The use of subtle lighting, for example, can help to achieve year-round practicality and ambience, so spend some time thinking about how it would enhance the area, increase the garden's practicality, change its character and improve security.

Pattern and colour usage in the surrounding planted area should also be considered carefully. For example, whilst a straight path will encourage movement directly to your new space, which could be important if it is to be used for work, a broken pattern will persuade people to linger, which may be more important if the structure is used for recreational purposes.

When considering planting, bear in mind how the new space will be used and who will use it, avoiding species which may be dangerous for children or pets. Deep borders with a gradation of plants will disguise boundaries and help to create the illusion of depth. Using plants that have a repetition of colours and textures will also encourage the eye to flow across the different areas and invest the space with its own harmonious rhythm.

In terms of colour, bear in mind the design sensibilities that tend to dictate how you would decorate a room. Think about which colour palettes soften areas, draw the eye to shorten depth or fade into the background. Although colour can be highly effective in achieving these aims it can also be challenging to use.

Creating a scheme that matches the client's expectations involves much more than just design, the correct use of planting and lighting, so it will always pay to consult an expert.

Further details are available from Notcutts Landscape and Garden Design Consultants on 0845 603 8716 or go to


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