Top Trends for Your outdoor Space in 2014

If you're planning on sprucing up your garden this spring, read on for hints and tips to help you get the most from your outdoor space.

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The nights are becoming shorter and spring is finally on the horizon. If your garden is looking slightly sorry for itself and in need of a makeover, now is the time to start making plans. So what are the top trends this year to make your garden stand out from the crowd?

Here are a few ideas for giving your outside space a bit of love in preparation for the (hopefully) long, hot summer ahead.

Urban Sanctuary

If you have a small garden or outdoor space, there are a range of options to help you make the most of the available area.

 

Keep it simple

Whilst it is often tempting to try and get as many of the features that we want into our gardens as possible, this risks making a smaller space feel cramped and overwhelmed. Careful planning and resisting impulse buys will mean you can achieve a feeling of harmony in a small space.

Furniture

Attractive furniture can make a great focal point for a smaller garden and means that the area will become an extension to your home; a place that you and your guests really enjoy being in. A garden cube set provides a fantastic, contemporary look and is designed to save space when not in use.
 
 

High quality landscaping

If you have a courtyard style space or no room for a lawn, use hard landscaping such as gravel, paving or decking. Using a range of high quality materials helps to add texture and interest to the garden and provides a fantastic area for relaxing, dining or socialising with a real designer touch.
 
 

Plant Vertically

Climbing plants like ivy, honeysuckle or clematis can be used to make walls or fences that form the boundaries of the garden less defined and so make the garden feel larger. Modern vertical planters are also a great way to introduce vibrant foliage into a small area and help to cover any less attractive walls.

Screening

Look for plants such as bamboo or small trees which provide interest but don't take up too much horizontal space. Taller plants help to give structure and, by using multiples of the same type, will add a feeling of harmony whilst helping to screen from neighbouring spaces.
 

Low Maintenance

Few would argue that spending time outdoors in an attractive garden is anything other than pleasurable. However not everyone has the time or inclination to spend hours pruning, cutting, raking or carrying out other garden tasks. This is where a low maintenance garden comes in.

 

Lawn Downsizing

Think about whether you really need a lawn and if it is worth the time cutting, weeding, feeding and watering. A lawn is an attractive and useful space, however can be 'downsized' to create a more manageable and easy to maintain area.
 

Select Suitable Shrubs

Choose low maintenance shrubs and plants to keep garden chores to a minimum. Hardy evergreen shrubs will require little care and will stay looking good all year round. Low maintenance perennials can be planted and left to their own devices, bringing pops of colour to the garden in flowering months. Spreading ground cover plants are another great way to suppress weeds and keep your garden looking green and lush.
 

Durable Furniture

For a true hassle free life, choose low maintenance garden furniture. Modern synthetic rattan garden furniture looks great and is completely weather resistant so can be left outdoors all year round with no painting required. You may wish to give the furniture a quick wipe down at the start of the season to remove any dirt, then you're all set for the summer.
 

Hard Landscaping

Materials such as stone, gravel, paving or hardwood decks don't require maintenance and can be used to add interest to various parts of the garden, as well as being accessible throughout the year. Gravel is a useful way to keep weeds at bay, and is relatively easy to replace should you find you have more time for gardening in the future.
 

Wild & Natural

In contrast to the more formal and straight edged garden looks we've seen over recent years, a natural and organic style is expected to be popular amongst designers this year.

 

Native Planting

To achieve a really natural style, look for varieties of plants native to the UK. Combining a number of species in a less formal layout provides a beautiful 'meadow' feel – perfect for lazy summer afternoons. Use flowering plants in combination with a range of native grasses for an unplanned 'back to nature' feel.
 

Attract Wildlife

One of the major draws of a natural garden style is the wildlife that can be attracted. Bird friendly, native shrubs and hedging can be great for inviting feathered friends into your garden all year round, whilst choosing plants loved by pollinators will give a helping hand to the declining bee population.
 

Be Considerate with Landscaping

To make your wilderness garden practical and to provide somewhere to relax and enjoy the nature, it may be necessary to introduce paths or seating areas. Try to use natural materials such as stone or slate, locally sourced if possible to minimise the impact on the environment.
 

Family Friendly

One of the most popular uses for our gardens is to spend time with the family on those warm summer weekends and evenings.

Safe Planting

Take care when selecting plants, as many species have leaves or flowers that can cause a skin irritation when touched. If you have small children or pets, take extra care to ensure you don't use plants that may produce berries or leaves that are harmful if ingested.
 

Define Areas

Think about how you want to use the space at different times. Track where gets the sun at various times of the day and plan accordingly. You might want to put an informal seating area somewhere that gets sun on an afternoon and a more formal dining area where it's most sunny on an evening. Or perhaps a shady spot to escape the midday sun but still enjoy the outdoors is something you'd like. Use a range of hard landscaping materials to help define areas, then plant with a consistent colour scheme to tie the whole space together.
 
 
 

Invest in Furniture

For a family friendly garden, great furniture is a must and means your garden really does become another room for everyone to enjoy. Whilst a good quality garden dining set means everyone will enjoy getting together at meal times for a BBQ, a luxurious corner sofa means you truly can relax in comfort and style with your loved ones.

Focus on Entertaining

For many families, spending time in the garden during the summer is a pleasurable way to relax. Think about installing outdoor speakers and lighting if you plan on hosting parties (but remember to be considerate of neighbours). Outdoor play equipment and climbing frames are also a great way to ensure children enjoy the garden.
 

Home Grown

Home grown fruit and veg has regained popularity in recent years as people look to save money and lead healthier lifestyles by consuming less processed foods. Careful planning for what you want to grow is essential for success.

 
 

Think About Location

Before embarking on growing your own fruit and veg, do some research about the varieties you want to use. Consider how much light your outdoor area gets, which direction it faces and whether you will need to install raised beds or irrigation systems.

Plant a Herb Garden

If you are new to growing your own, a great way to get started is by planting a herb garden. Not only will you be able to use your herbs in your cooking all summer long, but you can also make your herb garden into a stand out feature. Use interesting pots, keep it small, and try to add as much variety as possible by mixing up the thyme, mint, rosemary, sage and anything else you want to plant.
 
 

Choose Variety

If you are planning on growing vegetables, think about the times of the year when you'll be planting and harvesting. This will help you decide if you wish to plan for year round activity and interest, or have a bumper harvest at certain times of the year.

Plant an Orchard

Space permitting, a fruit orchard such as apple or pear varieties will let you make sauces, pies, deserts and cider that can be bottled, pickled, stored or even sold. If you have less available space, one or two trees can still provide a significant amount of fruit once they begin to mature
 

First Impressions

When it comes to garden design, many people often pay significantly more attention to their back gardens than the front. This is understandable as back gardens are often where we spend a lot of our time at home during the summer months. However, with the UK property market expected to grow more rapidly during 2014, many home owners are also turning their attention to the front of their property.

Pay Attention to Paths

An attractive pathway to the front door helps to make a great first impression and should be kept clear of obstacles for safety. The path should be consistent with the overall style of the house - if you live in a period property look for original style tiles for impact, or use good quality paving for a more modern home.
 
 

Front Door

The front door to your property can reveal a lot about your personality, and the type of home that lies inside, based on your choice of colour. For example, white portrays simple and organised; red can be seen to mean the house is welcoming and exciting while blue gives an image of an easygoing, calm and relaxing property.
 
 

Versatile Planting

Using attractive garden planters is an easy way to rejuvenate your front garden and great for areas where space is limited. Use taller planters to help frame the entrance for an upmarket feel. Also think about the choice of plants – a combination of smaller evergreen varieties together with bright summer flowering plants maintains the style throughout the year.

Lighting

Well chosen lighting can help your home make a great first impression and add to that all important curb appeal. From low level lighting to help illuminate the path or drive, to motion activated lighting to boost security, there are many ways you can use lighting to improve the look of the front of your home.
 
Let the Countdown to Summer Begin
So there you have it, a few ideas to give your outdoor space the spring makeover it deserves so that, come summer, your garden will be the envy of all your neighbours. Now is the time go get cracking with your outdoor project, so start making plans for your garden today.