Designing Your Outdoor Patio / Entertaining Area

Hello to all gardeners!

I bet you are all looking forward to spring, where you can go out into your garden, and daily see a sudden awakening of plants of all types, perennials starting to shoot above the ground and trees coming into leaf and blossom.

We are very lucky to get four good seasons in the waikato region, and each has its own positive contribution to a constant changing in the garden.

Today I want to talk about some garden design principles, that may help you in the way you design your new (or alter your existing) PATIO / ENTERTAINING AREA - nothing is more soothing than sitting on a terrace, sharing it with family and friends, surrounded by a beautiful garden. A good sized patio area, with a dining table and some casual seating, is far better than multiple tiny areas, where a few people congregate too, and its suddenly overcrowded. 

Make sure you allow for  some sort of covered shading over the top of your patio over the summer months, especially to keep out those harsh u.v. rays, and possibly some solid roofing to keep out drizzle.  

A dining terrace needs to be at least 4m x 4m in size - this is calculated on the room needed for a table and chairs.

You will need to add to this size:

- if there will be a collection of pot plants

- if you want add additional furniture

- if you want to have a border of plants surrounding the patio, and they could possibly spill out over some of the paved area. 

I personally have a fascination for outdoor entertaining areas, and i try and get my landscape clients to allow for at least two separate areas, if possible, because it gives you a choice, depending on time of day, wind direction, how hot or cold it is, then you can sit and relax in the area thats best suits your needs. As I mentioned above, if you are a bit limited for room, then you are better to have one good sized patio area, than several small dinkie ones. 

You can bring excitement to the patio area by:

- the use of colourful or colour co-ordinated hanging baskets, to bring in some excitement at eye level

- the sound of splashing water, coming from a waterfeature, adds a pleasant sound to any patio area

-  extra outdoor night lighting adds another positive dimension, by highlighting your favourite tree, piece of sculpture or terracotta urn. LED lighting is very cheap, and extremely easy to install these days

- the addition of a feature plant in a pot, can add some real x factor to your entertaining patio area.nSelect a plant that’s happy to be kept in a pot, even when rootbound and is not going to sulk on you and drop all of its leaves

- surround your patio /entertaing area with a beautiful plant backdrop, lush foliage or even a manicured plant setting. This can add another amazing dimension to your garden. Many properties I visit have just a plain boring wooden fence surrounding their patio area. You can do so much better than this, and it doesn’t cost very much to make it look amazing !!! And is very easy to look after. 

A layered planting, can look extremely effective where you are limited by room between the patio area and the fenceline. Basically by this, I mean select a taller growing variety of plant, running along the back of the narrow border and trim off their lower branches all to the same height, of say 1.0m, then select another different type of plant that can easily be kept at 30cm- 1.0m to grow under our taller variety at the back. Finally select a small growing front-of-the-border plant that will be like the frill on the front of the skirt. This can be just a low flowering perennial, a small clipped hedge, or even just a low groundcover. I personally like the design and layout of layered gardens in confined areas of your garden and the overall design outcome can be extremely effective.

If your entertaing area, is looking rather boring, or inimaginative, then now is a great time to get in and redesign it, so that by the time you get to labour weekend, its all ready for you and your family to enjoy this coming summer.

As a landscaper, I inform my clients, that the outdoor entertaining area, is one of the most important, because this is where you spend most of your time when outside the house, so its worth putting in a special effort to this part of your property.

Happy Gardening with Graeme

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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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