One of the most basic requirements of a successful garden design is to entice its owner from their house out into it, and preferably to use as much of the space there as possible, walking around its extremities as often as possible. Most people use the same areas of their house,  for the same purpose everyday;  drinking their coffee and eating breakfast at the kitchen table, reading the paper on the sofa, making phone calls , using a computer, taking a nap – all are likely to have their habitually used locations in the house. With wifi, mobile phones and cordless house phones there is no reason all of these activities could not take place in the garden.

Most humans have a tendency to be lazy or extremely busy, so our garden design should not allow there to be the simplest obstacle to using the garden at a moment’s notice, with no hassle.  If there is,  the likely hood is that most people will not bother to open the patio doors. If they need to go and get a seat and put it on a patio in order to sit there – they may be discouraged.

If there is light drizzle and nowhere under shelter to sit, or if they feel exposed to their neighbor’s windows, a cold wind and out of the sun, the garden has far less chance of being used. Permanently fixed seating where the early morning sun enters the garden, and most importantly, for after work relaxation, where the last rays of evening sun fall – are a must. Whilst we may not crave absolute privacy or invisibility some level of screening from the gaze of others makes a subtle difference to how comfortable we feel in a garden. Most city houses – even if detached, look over their neighbors’ gardens and many new build ones are open to 360 degrees of views from a whole block of houses.

Garden

Deck & Patio Seating

Decks or patios can be built with fixed seating at their perimeters made out of hardwood that can be allowed to weather naturally, or laminated, resin sealed and lacquered plywood. A simple bench of this type with no backrest is reasonably inexpensive, and just the sight of it can make a subtle psychological difference to your garden – the invitation  is permanently there, providing an opportunity to sit outside instantly and at any time of year.

We might otherwise miss the chance to have a cup of coffee in the garden on the occasional warm early spring morning or sunny autumn evening at a time when most people still have their patio furniture under cover or in storage for the winter. This type of permanent seat also increases the seating capacity of a dining area; by seating guests at the outer edge of your patio or deck – where a free standing seat would be in danger of falling off the edge, you can use a larger table or 2 smaller ones.

Simplicity & Practicality

A simple and practical design thought given to this crucial part of a garden – its destination, can make the difference between a  garden which might look good from the house but rarely gets used, to the one that is an additional living space for the household – where the garden is seen from outside.

The use of our destination can be made even more comfortable and practical by placing it under cover, in shelter from light rain, overly hot sunshine or exposure to neighbors windows. A simple parasol can achieve this and has the advantage of being moveable. Shade sails also give some shelter, but the best protective cover can be provided by a roof. There are many ways to achieve this; from gazebos and shed verandas to summerhouses and thatched huts – the more protected the space under the roof, the more practical uses it will have.

For the purposes of a simple seat however, a small roof covering an area just slightly larger than the seat can make the difference between using it or not. A shelter made from just 2 heavy rustic looking oak posts and a small flat cedar shingle roof or a modern style zinc flat roofed black-painted, softwood construction, can provide enough cover from drizzle or a shower to make it possible to enjoy the garden and its relaxing qualities on those few days each year when we might otherwise be discouraged from doing so.

Because a destination and its seat are well designed – the comfort and use-ability of the garden is enhanced in good weather and the possibility of enjoying precious, (no matter how brief), therapeutic pauses to our day are made.