Long hot days and balmy evenings bring home just how much we all yearn for a space outdoors where we can braai, read or simply relax and reflect
Use your walls and floor as focal points to provide the perfect backdrop to your comfort zone. Soften unsightly walls easily and quickly with a splash of paint; or go for a striking mural or trompe l’oeil to create a greater sense of space. Fragrant creepers will add a lush, romantic feel and, in time, also make for the perfect cover up. Flagstones and pavers can lead the way to your little retreat, softened by ground cover. A comfortable bench or a freestanding, all-weather hammock – framed by a sizeable umbrella to shelter under – is all you’d need to forget your cares.
Planning your braai area is fairly easy. It’s best located close to the kitchen, with a work surface and washbasin close by to make life even easier. If the chosen site is not sheltered, a large umbrella (or two) will come in handy to beat off the sun. Heavy winds can play havoc with your braai – so make sure you position it away from wind traps to prevent smoke in the eyes. When shopping for the perfect braai, ensure that it is sturdy and, if it’s mobile, check that the wheels glide smoothly.
Low-maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean sparse. Your choice of boundary walls – be it concrete, brick or hedging; ground cover (paving, grass, gravel or a mix) and rooftop options (pergola, arches or none) will determine the overall look of the space. Stone, brick, pavers, gravel and even tiles can easily and affordably set the tone for a serene nook.
If you’re considering installing a water feature, consider the location, size, style, safety, and the type of plants you’d like to showcase in or around it. The style of your water feature should match your garden – for instance, circular and square ponds are ideal for a formal garden. Cut down on maintenance by keeping your water feature away from trees, or you’ll be fishing out leaves all autumn. Most water features are sold with a water pump and this generally has a cable; if you want to extend the length, consult an electrician.
A well-designed boundary wall can add immeasurably to the impact of a garden – try a hedge or grouping of plants can create an effective and attractive screen. Walls can also be clad in cut or raw stone. Readymade frames and trellises can also be bought and nailed to brick walls for an instant solution. Mount trellises a little way away from the wall, so that plants can creep through them… and receive enough air, light, and rain. Custom-made wrought iron trellises can add a totally different dimension to a wall, or you can cover walls with green graphics, such as diamondshaped ivy (Hedera helix).