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9 clever ways to transform your outside space

By Daisy Mason

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Whether it's adding artificial grass to your balcony, or mirrors to your narrow terrace garden, we’ve shortlisted our top design ideas to transform your urban garden and outside spaces.

1. An outdoor room

As space is limited in many urban homes and gardens, it pays to make outdoor areas an integral part of your living space. Which is why designing and decorating your garden like a room in your property is a great way to ensure the outdoor space is utilised.

Just a few ways to turn your garden into a room could be painting fencing and walls for a consistent decorative theme, install lighting and outdoor heaters so that your garden is usable throughout the evening, hang mirrors and accessories for an indoor feel or create a covered sofa/seating area as a place to relax and unwind.

2. Artificial grass

While some gardeners would argue that nothing is better than the real deal, artificial grass is an increasingly popular alternative that guarantees a luscious looking garden all year round. Being very low maintenance, it is perfect for busy households and those with shady backyards that find it difficult to establish a real lawn. And it’s not just for gardens! An increasing number of homeowners are using artificial grass on balconies and terraces, creating their very own miniature garden above the ground.

3. Planted privacy

Like most city dwellers, many Londoners find themselves overlooked by neighbours. And none more than in contemporary apartment blocks. Using a fast and vertical growing plant like bamboo is a clever way to make any outside space appear more private and a modern, urban setting feel more relaxing.

4. Windowsill gardens

If you don't have any outside space then it doesn’t mean you can’t introduce nature to the inside of your property. Window boxes and pots are great for establishing herbs and vegetables that thrive in small containers, like peppers and chillies, and can make your property more appealing from the outside, too.

5. A unified space

Over the past few years, there has been an upward trend in the number of properties with folding doors opening out from the kitchen into the garden. Some homeowners have gone one step further, using similar flooring materials both inside and outside their property to create one consistent aesthetic, giving the impression of one unified space. If your garden is particularly small, this is a great way to utilise any outdoor areas by making them an extension of your interior living space.

6. Vertical planting

Vertical planters and ‘living walls’ are a fantastic way to introduce greenery to outdoor areas without taking up too much room, allowing you to maximise any space you have for entertaining. From more expensive off-the-shelf systems, to DIY planters made from everyday objects, this is a flexible and creative way to add plant life to outdoor areas.

7. Mirrors

With the right placement, mirrors in small gardens – particularly walled ones – are a fantastic way to make the space feel bigger, giving the appearance in some cases of a much longer or wider garden, or one with separate sections.

8. Zoning

Splitting your garden into specific zones also has a similar effect. Establishing distinct areas using a range of building materials, colours and plants can give the appearance of a larger garden with greater function, as long as it isn’t cluttered with too much furniture or too many pots.

9. Don’t neglect the side return!

If you live in a terrace house, don’t assume that the narrow portion of garden at the side of the building is an unusable space. Trellises along one wall can add life to this small space without taking up precious room, while a small table and chairs instantly adds some practical appeal. Artificial lawns like the one on the right instantly brighten the space and can transform it from drab to delightful in an instant.




Feeling inspired?

We've got plenty more garden designs to show you in our home inspiration section. Or why not take a look at Diarmuid Gavin's feature on great garden styles.

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