Create an area in your garden that’s perfect for lounging and relaxing with seating and just the right amount of shade.
It makes sense to choose the sunniest spot if you’re a sun worshipper, but allow for some shadier areas for those who aren’t so keen on the sun. Privacy is key, too. Look at the location of your lounging area and whether it can be overlooked by neighbours, then work out the ideal screening – which might be anything from trellis or a pergola to clever planting.
‘You can put in walls and fences up to two metres high [without planning permission],’ says Amir Schlezinger, garden designer at Mylandscapes. ‘Adding trellis on top of walls and fences can create further height, and vigorous-growing climbing plants entwined in the trellis will provide extra privacy. Hedges, bamboo, trees and shrubs are perfect screening, while hard landscaping, such as low walls, a louvre partition (perhaps even moveable) or a canopy can all be effective, too.’
Amir Schlezinger believes combining stone and wood is the ideal design concept, as they create contrast in a space, but each has its uses. ‘Decking is great for lounging areas, and sunbathing and play spaces, because wood warms up early in the day, is soft underfoot and easy to clean,’ he says. ‘It is also useful for levelling stepped, sloping and split-level areas. Decking can be easily used in a garden in places where laying stone would be difficult or impossible (under and around trees, shallow plant roots or manhole covers). The supporting beams can bypass such obstacles.’
If you go for a stone-based lounging area, bear in mind that light-coloured paving will make a small, dark space feel bigger and brighter, while dark stone, such as slate or granite, will reduce glare in a very sunny spot.
What to plant
‘Tactile and scented planting is a good choice for a lounging area – many climbers, such as honeysuckle and star jasmine, produce a lovely wafting scent on summer evenings,‘ Amir Schlezinger advises. ‘Avoid sharp-toothed or spiky plants, especially with children around. Trees will create good shade, but avoid fruit trees – you don’t want fruit landing on you.’
Try out garden furniture before you buy, as you would with furniture for your home. Choose a combination of reclining beds and armchairs, plus padded, folding chairs, benches and hammocks, which are great for small spaces, as are stacking chairs that can be stored on one side when not in use.
‘If you need to keep your garden furniture outside all year round, synthetic wicker is a good choice,’ says Daniel Fairburn of furniture specialist Out & Out Original. ‘Synthetic wicker works beautifully in both contemporary and traditional gardens; it’s easy to look after and, if you buy the best, it’s robust and durable. Make sure the furniture cushions are as thick as those on your chairs indoors – thin cushions are a false economy, as they are uncomfortable and won’t last, either.’ He also advises that you choose machine-washable covers and check the cushions are UV-stabilised to help them maintain their looks for longer.
In the gallery: Modular seating is a good buy in a small space, because it allows you to adapt your arrangement depending on your needs. This Enholmen plastic/rattan sofa comes in a range of pieces, from £48 for a one-seat section, (H)79x(W)63x(D)69cm, Ikea. Hållö seat cushion, shown, not included, available at IKEA.
All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing.