The outdoor living room
Outdoor living is part of the kiwi way of life, especially when summer comes around.
Whether it’s a ten-minute coffee break to soak up some vitamin D, or a long summer evening with friends, stepping outdoors into an inviting open-air living room brings that wonderful holiday feeling right at home.
These days, the huge range of modern landscaping materials and outdoor furnishings on offer means outdoor living spaces can get as high-end as kitchens and living rooms. But while it makes sense to devote as much time and expense to the outdoor room we spend so much time in, much can be done on a more modest budget.
Plan with purpose
It’s a matter of looking at how you use your space and deciding what’s most important. If entertaining is your main focus, top quality paving, heating and lighting might be high on your list of priorities. You may go as far as an outdoor kitchen or built-in fireplace.
If your outdoors is mainly a place for one or two, to relax and unwind with a book, you’ll want a comfortable intimate space with protection from the elements - and plants for that all-important connection with nature. For families with young children or pets a safe play area is critical. But if there is a park within walking distance, it doesn’t necessarily have to include a lawn.
If you love to grow food, your outdoor living area may double as your edible garden, in which case sun and soil will take priority.
Whatever the main function, almost everyone wants an outdoor living space that’s private. The walls of your outdoor living room also provide shelter from chilly winds.
When the boundary fence isn’t tall enough to give you the privacy you need, placing a screen closer in to the sitting area can block a higher line of sight. Internal screens can also be taller than the usual 1.8m allowed for a property boundary.
A hedge is the ultimate garden wall, providing a beautiful living screen of foliage, but hedges take time to grow and they need regular trimming. They also take up more space than a fence and take moisture and nutrients away from other plants. When space is tight and time is short, a fence or wall provides instant results and can be softened with a quick growing climber. Inexpensive screens can be a useful