Outdoor living trends set to be big this year

Outdoor living

After a year of lockdowns, it’s hardly surprising we’ve been looking to enhance our outdoor living and entertaining areas.

According to a survey by home design platform Houzz.co.uk, 36 per cent of renovating homeowners now plan to upgrade their gardens, including the addition of cast stone fountains, inspired by the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a spike in interest for outdoor projects, with enquiries rising by 116 per cent in January, compared to the same period of 2020,” explains Houzz editor, Amanda Pollard. “Our gardens have provided sanctuary throughout the pandemic and as restrictions begin to lift, homeowners are searching for solutions that are beautiful and functional to maximise theirs.”

Here’s what’s piquing our interest…

1. The fifth room

Gardens have grown into another room, essentially, with spaces set up for cooking, dining, relaxing and socialising. Recent photos uploaded to Houzz feature cosy garden seating areas with unexpected furnishings. These include rugs, floor cushions and 2021’s hottest garden accessory, the hanging chair.

2. Pergolas

It’s set to be the year of the pergola, with searches on Houzz dramatically increasing in popularity. “If you want to create an inviting outdoor living space, you’ll likely need shade to do it,” says Pollard. “A pergola is a relatively quick and affordable solution. These simple shade structures, which can be built and installed by a professional in a day or two, provide adequate shade for dining, lounging and other outdoor activities.”

3. Lighting

With a focus on outdoor socialising, households are looking for ways to extend the use of their gardens into the evening too. “Lighting is key to creating a space that works equally as well in the evening, with searches for ‘garden lighting’ spiking in popularity,” says Pollard.

The pros on Houzz also advise considering the mood you want to achieve, with bright white a good option if you’re after a well-lit space, and warm white a better option if you’re hoping to create a soft glow. “Do consider wildlife when you’re planning your outdoor lighting,” adds Pollard. “Use it sparingly and only when you need it, and switch it all off when you head indoors.”

4. Multifunctional gardens

Gardens now have many jobs, from places to work or exercise and spots to eat, relax and socialise with friends. With so many activities now taking place, professionals on Houzz say their clients are more frequently requesting gardens with clear zoning.

“Make sure you know where you stand in relation to planning permission,” says Martin Lawson, of Swift Garden Rooms. “The majority of projects are possible without a full planning application, but there are many exceptions. When you’re making a significant investment, you owe it to yourself not to risk a knock on the door from a planning enforcement officer.”

5. Greenery

Garden designers say their clients are moving towards more green planting schemes, with big leafy plants, ferns, palms and grasses popular on recent projects. Along with adding drama, using them in strategic points provides much-needed privacy, especially in an urban garden. Leaves usually last longer than blooms, meaning planting will look good for months or even, with the right choices, all year.

Planters and pots are a great option for smaller spaces. Try opting for various heights, sizes and styles to add interest to patio areas – and watch your mini garden grow.