The following four elements are essential for transforming the outdoors into a more welcoming area: a shaded side, scented plants with bright colours, comfortable patio furniture and lights. If money is no object, enhance the setting by building a water point: fountain, pool, waterfall… Add decorative objects such as lighted pots or simple gardening tools, such as a wheelbarrow or watering can, to give the garden an original side.

Today, the outdoors are embellished with as much care and attention as indoor decorations, whether this concerns a simple balcony, a terrace or a garden. While this has inspired entire collections of professional design lawn furniture and objects, building a small relaxing area does not necessarily require the use of such costly services. With a reasonable budget and a little imagination, it is possible to create a little area perfect for relaxation and idleness.

Shade and bodies of water to provide freshness

First of all, the installation of a fence is necessary to structure the space and to protect it from prying eyes. It may consist of a dry stone wall or a vegetable fence made of bamboo or cypress. To create some shade, install an awning or build a pergola or trellis on which a climbing rose, ivy or vines will be able to freely thrive. For the ground, play on the layout and colour shades by incorporating a pebble beach, strips of wood, or large stone slabs, either natural or imitations. Through special treatments, the objects no longer fear spots or signs of wear and do not turn green. Over time, they become shiny with age and take on nice natural colours. For high temperatures, the ideal would be a small body of water with floating aquatic plants, or a small waterfall, a pond, a fountain or an old well to bring a touch of freshness. In larger spaces, the new trend is a pool surrounded by aquatic plants to give it a more natural look.

Lawn furniture and lighting for comfort

Outdoor furniture is designed with materials specially made to withstand prolonged outdoor exposure and weather conditions, including rain, frost and sun. Despite a slightly higher price, teak is undoubtedly a superior product due to a combination of its exotic charm and durability. Install pouffes and lawn stools, garden sunshades, swings or simple wooden benches attached to a support. Put the wooden lounge chairs on the sunny side and hammocks in the shade. You can also opt for the hammock-chairs. Use matching tablecloths, cushions and overlays. To improve the furniture’s resistance to wear and tear, they should be painted with a special product. Create a romantic or festive atmosphere with all kinds of lights: spotlights, lanterns or buried in the ground spotlights that illuminate the plantations. The lighting installation must be entrusted to professionals for security reasons.

Vegetable decoration for a touch of colour and fragrance

Over the seasons, flower beds, flower clumps, aligned pots, planters, suspensions, greenhouses, mini orchard or vegetable garden, and vegetables bring colour and fragrance to the garden. Plant them according to the available area and the amount of sunlight required by each type of plant. More importantly, the plants must be grown according to their flowering period and be well-arranged in order to have a uniformly coloured garden throughout the year.

Design for a touch of originality

And since gardens are now subjected to design, the originality of your creations will create unique atmospheres to suit your needs. For example, Zen minimalist Japanese-style gardens will be spaced out, with a small body of water and low vegetation. An aquatic theme will instead consist of a water point at the centre, reeds or water lilies, and a wood or pebble beach all around. For a wild and natural look, the plants will need to be of different sizes, colours and scents. Otherwise, give your garden an exotic look with exotic wood furniture, boxwood and perennials. The decorative items have just as much to offer as lighted pots and original trays. Colours also play a vital role: strong without being aggressive, they must match the tone of your home. Finally, recovered objects can also be used to embellish the space: an old wheelbarrow, a cart, a watering can, statuettes…

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Published in Decorating guide by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011