15 April 2021
This year our appreciation of the outdoors as a habitable area, an extension of the home, has come into sharp focus.
Al fresco dining, chilling out or enjoying the view from a terrace garden are among the ways that the outside can be enjoyed at its best. Although typically the UK climate is not ideal for life outdoors during the winter months, with some help from technology and the right terrace flooring ideas, it’s now a possibility. A terrace heater, fire pit or retractable awning might just be the key to unlocking the year-round enjoyment of the terrace garden. Below we’ve put together five of the most popular trends right now for converting the terrace garden into the place to spend time.
The terrace garden is a manageable size slice of the outdoors that presents a great opportunity for enjoying nature and outdoor living.
Gardening or just kicking back, the outdoor world is one of different smells, sounds and sensations. Typically an adjoining patio area or terrace is accessed directly from a living room or kitchen of the main house. There are several practical reasons why having a terrace garden, rather than the more conventional British lawn with herbaceous borders, means getting more out of the outdoors. The first and most important is its design and maintenance can be successfully undertaken by even the least green-fingered. Secondly, on even a small budget the results are guaranteed to bring satisfaction.
The world of landscape gardens is just as varied and susceptible to trends as indoor interior design. If you’re in any doubt pop along to your nearest garden centre to see a veritable cornucopia of the latest fashions in plants, flowers, shrubs etc. Not to mention the garden furniture and decorative elements. The British have been carrying on a love affair with their gardens for centuries, and the changing trends are a reflection of how new and traditional species fall in and out of fashion. Not surprisingly these are subject to the vagaries of the age we are living through, and now more so than ever. Invest in these five trends and your neighbours will be green with envy!
It’s no exaggeration to say that the disappearance of the British hedgerows has had a devastating effect on bees and other insects.
Good modern farming practices recognise this problem and gardeners can also help out. The terrace garden can be planted with specific species of flowers, shrubs and wild grasses that not only attract insects but help nurture wild fauna and birds. This trend, also known a ‘permaculture gardening’, bears witness to our growing interest in sustainability and ecological awareness.
Anyone even remotely interested in food and diet will recognise the immense pleasure of growing your own vegetables and salad ingredients.
With a few raised beds judiciously placed on the terrace, it’s surprising the amount and variety of food that can be grown. Make sure to place them in order to catch as much sunlight as possible. Although the terrace garden will never lead to complete self-sufficiency, the fresh herbs or other fresh ingredients it supplies will taste like the real thing. And for kids, there is no toy or technological device yet invented that will bring more joy, educational opportunities and wonder to their budding imaginations.
This trend recognises the limited space available to most of us, but even so, there’s no need to be any less ambitious.
Miniature varieties of plants and shrubs are the answer. These help to make the terrace appear larger. When it comes to furniture think small as well, there are great options available that provide acceptable comfort with the minimum of materials. A mix of planters and potted plants will provide colour and scale to even the smallest terrace.
Zoning simply means defining different subspaces within an overall area.
Even the smallest terrace will benefit from this trend which is best undertaken with a logical and flowing layout. The dining area should be close to the main house, with a seating area with grouped seating and a side table; and lastly raised planted boxes should be adjacent to the lawn or the garden boundaries, preferably the ones that get direct light.
Colour, aromas, furniture, accessories, avant-garde building materials, lighting, speakers,…
These are just some of the tools for creating an intense sensory experience in the terrace garden. Give free rein to the imagination, the outdoors isn’t the same as the indoors, if something doesn’t work then chances are it’ll die off before next summer. This allows for more frequent change and being able to keep up the seasons and latest trends.
There’s a school of thought that treats the terrace garden like an outside room, an extension of the inside so to speak. But in reality, it might be more useful to think of the terrace garden as an in-between space. Mixing garden and terrace elements might mean having comfortable loungers and chairs placed against an aromatic shrub. It’s no exaggeration to say that food tastes better al fresco so a dining area with chairs sitting on an outdoor paved area is a must for a garden terrace layout. Then there’s the fire pit, a great place to gather with drinks in hand where the conversation also flows or just to appreciate the sounds of the evening rituals of birds and other fascinating creatures. Another feature that lends a calming feel is the addition of a bird table or bath. Tip: for the UK climate fabrics for outdoor loungers, sofas and armchairs must be resistant to the damp. Suitable storage options are also a must.
Terrace garden plants
The choice of plants will depend on individual designs and configurations.
However, keep in mind that a variety of species and colours are at the very heart of the British garden. For more terrace garden inspiration, watch or visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it will have you searching for the nearest space and watering can.
Sometimes known as a deck, a patio or even a balcony the terrace garden features a combination of a hard landscaped area and a planted area, normally with the addition of outdoor furniture.
Easy to grow vegetables suitable for raised beds that are almost guaranteed to succeed with not too much effort include: beans, beetroot, carrots, cucumber, aubergine, peas, potatoes, lettuce and courgettes. While practically indestructible flowers favoured by the UK weather include: geraniums, begonias, chrysanthemums and fuchsia. When choosing perennials think ferns, hibiscus, geraniums etc. Tip: a conversation with the staff of your local garden centre is recommended before making the final decisions. Literally they are walking Encyclopaedias of everything garden related.
Start by cleaning and sorting the necessary gardening tools, see the list below. Remove weeds from planted areas and raised beds, cut back on any hedges or shrubs that require tidying up. Plant the summer flowering bulbs you want to brighten up the terrace garden with and tidy generally. Finally any composting that can be done will be very useful later in the year. Basic terrace gardening tools: spade, rake, pair of shears (or secateurs), a hand trowel, thick gardening gloves and a garden fork.