Get in the zone
Futon Company says: We might have more freedoms right now than we’ve had for a long, long time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold on to some of the lessons we learnt in the deepest darkest winter lockdown. Our favourite lockdown hangover is spending more time outdoors. In previous blogs we’ve talked about our new-found love of all things alfresco – whether eating, socialising, camping, cold water swimming or working outside, we’ve definitely noticed a real shift in our behaviour, and spend more time than ever in the outside spaces surrounding us. And if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, we’ve got some great ideas for you!
Cue a recent Sunday Times Home article by Louise Curley called Zone Out which says: Divide and conquer: how to separate different areas in your garden for work, rest and play…. Our homes have had to work harder than ever before, this past year, and it’s not just our bricks and mortar that has taken a beating, but also our gardens. To help you get the most out of your outdoor space, including those in awkward corners, for all times of day, and for all members of the family, you need to zone. For many, the pandemic has made us reassess what we want from our gardens, and using zoning to create separate spaces for specific functions in the same way we have distinct rooms in a house will give a garden a well-thought-out feel.
Top of most people’s priorities is a comfortable space to gather and eat. Sitting this zone close to the house makes sense if you don’t want to have to traipse to the end of the garden juggling food and drink…. This year’s spring reminded us of how fickle the British weather can be, so it’s worth considering overhead protection if you don’t want to have to scramble indoors when it rains…. If you are creating a patio from scratch, make sure you plan a generous area, not forgetting to include the extra space needed when chairs aren’t tucked under the table. Foldaway chairs and tables are good if space is at a premium….. Infrared heaters are the most efficient and environmentally friendly way of heating an outdoor space. These work best in sheltered and covered spaces and they can be wall-mounted, freestanding or hanging. Firepits and chimineas are more atmospheric.
Fresh air and exercise are crucial for our mental and physical health, and with the clever use of space a garden can provide somewhere for children and adults to let off steam. Table tennis tables surged in popularity during the first lockdown…. You are more likely to keep up regular practice of aerobics, yoga or Pilates if it’s easy to roll out your mat and get started rather than having to move furniture and plant pots out of the way, so create a designated space on the patio – a flat, level surface is essential… For little ones position a sandpit and mud kitchen close to the house where you can keep an eye on them. A corner in the garden screened by hedging and shrubs will create a private space where a simple shed can be the perfect escape for teenagers and their pals.
Create a quiet spot to escape to for a snooze, a spot of meditation or to read a book. While upright, high-back chairs or benches are great for when you’re eating, lazy lounging requires more comfort… Dappled shade tends to be more conducive to relaxing than baking hot sunshine, so site your Zen zone underneath a tree, rig up a sun shade or construct a pergola and clad it with scrambling, fragrant climbers such as honeysuckle and star jasmine.
Some of the simplest pleasures in a garden over the past year or so have come from rekindling or discovering for the first time the connection with nature that our outdoor space can provide. Incorporating a zone that is planted and designed for the benefit of wildlife will not only increase the biodiversity in your garden, it’ll also make you happy. Stack logs to make homes for beetles, build a hedgehog house and make a 13cm square hole in your fence so that these endangered creatures can access your garden.
We all need somewhere to store the practical stuff such as wheelie bins, recycling boxes and bicycles, but these don’t need to draw the eye or clutter up the garden. Keep these all in one place if you can and hide them using panels or screens. Plain wooden storage can be given a lick of paint that ties in with the house and the rest of the garden.
Futon Company says: Being a city dweller, as many of us are, we can only dream of a garden that’s big enough to accommodate all of these zones – but we love a happy daydream which is why we thought you’d enjoy this article too! If you’re lucky enough to have an outside space of any size, there are still plenty of these top tips that you can adopt – you just need to be a little bit more savvy. For small space living alfresco-style it makes sense to carve up zones on an ad-hoc basis, for example fold up furniture that can hide in the corner while you do your outdoor yoga class, and rugs and cushions that can transform a daytime work space into a night time bar. By thinking creatively and smart it’s definitely possible to zone your outside space, even when it’s svelte and compact!