From tiny terraces to lavish landscapes, here’s how to really enjoy your slice of the great outdoors.

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  • Summer is officially here! Here's how to embrace your outdoor space and get enjoy some al fresco fun.

    “Having your own space where you can be outside but away from the crowds has become really important to people,” explains Carolyn Dunster, author of Urban Flowers. “We have turned to nature as a form of solace, where we are able to grow things, nurture them and look after them in the garden, on a terrace or on a balcony.”

    Marie Shallcross, senior partner at Plews Garden Design agrees that gardens are more important to us than ever. “They have become a sanctuary for many people - and a place where you can have some control,” she says.

    No matter how big your outdoor area is, you can maximise what you have and create a splendid space where you and your family can relax in the fresh air - here’s how.

    The balcony

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    With some budget-friendly changes, flat-dwellers with a balcony can spruce up their space in no time at all.

    “Go for square pots and rectangular troughs because they take up less room,” suggests Shallcross. Every dimension is precious, so remember to look up as well as across.

    “Use the vertical space and get some shelves,” Shallcross says. “You could customise them - for example, if you have a turquoise bistro set you could get some cheap wooden shelves and paint them to match. You can also attach hanging pots to hooks and there are specially designed pots that go over balcony railings.”

    For true perfection, don’t forget the extra details - fairy lights will twinkle when the sun goes down, and a small rug adds some colour.

    The terrace

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    Terraces are a fantastic way to utilise space in the city, and adding some greenery helps create an oasis where you can enjoy yourself after a long day.

    “Sow some annual flower seeds as soon as the air temperature starts to warm up,” says Dunster. “Grasses make a lovely noise when it’s windy - or you could grow a few herbs to harvest and eat.”

    When it comes to picking your pots, Dunster suggests upcycling classical pots or investing in more modern tubs depending on the kind of property you live in - but says you can’t go wrong with a classic terracotta either.

    Select a simple colour scheme to work with and pick some luxurious accessories such as cushions, throws and candle holders to take the space to the next level. Think about using different textures too - woven raffia and bamboo for the natural look, or bright patterns for a fun vibe.

    The city garden

    If you’re lucky enough to have a garden in the city, there are plenty of ways to transform even the smallest spaces.

    “Think about the light available, because city gardens can be narrow and surrounded by buildings,” explains Shallcross. “Make use of the verticals again - honeysuckle, jasmine and wisteria will grow happily on shadier walls and fences.”

    Mirrors can reflect the light you do have, and are a clever way to give the illusion of extra space. Get ready to welcome friends and family to a socially-distanced supper with an area of wooden decking and a barbecue.

    Add some cheerful seat cushions and matching table settings, plus a few Moroccan style lanterns to glow as the sun goes down.

    The family garden

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    Outdoor space is a godsend for those with energetic kids. And a treehouse or Wendy house is the ultimate childhood dream, giving them a space of their very own.

    Equally, if your garden has some lawn space, a tasteful wooden climbing frame will provide hours of entertainment.

    If you’d rather have something more temporary, then a teepee is fun - and if you have some space with trees, Shallcross suggests incorporating secret paths and dens.

    There’s a real novelty to eating outside for kids, so a sturdy set of tables and chairs is a wise investment and a summerhouse or shepherd’s hut can double up as a home office where you can close the door on the chaos.

    The nature-lover’s garden

    If you have green thumbs, you can create a garden full of flowers that will bloom with colour over the coming months and invite in some wildlife.

    “If there’s something specific you want to entice in, find out if there are particular plants that they like,” says Shallcross. “For example, bees like purple flowers best.”

    Trees, shrubs and open space can attract a variety of birds, and look lovely in doing so. “Berry-bearing shrubs that last right through autumn into winter can be added in and a raised stone birdbath works beautifully, Shallcross says.

    If you’d like to see some water creatures, “a pond with sloping edges and pebbles allows amphibians to get in and out,” she explains.

    For the finishing touches, add some winding paths in natural stone for a garden that feels truly magical.

    The wow-factor garden

    If space and money are no object, then the world is your oyster when it comes to creating a show-stopping garden. A rose garden will fill the air with beautiful scents, while an area of wildflowers is equally gorgeous. Just remember that, if you want Chelsea Garden Show-worthy florals, it will take some work.

    “You have to invest your time and be prepared to remember to look after them,” advises Dunster. “But it’s very therapeutic and becomes part of your daily routine.”

    A vegetable patch means you can pick fresh produce for your kitchen table, while garden swings and hammocks provide lovely places to relax. Sculptures and water features also look stunning - enjoy the soothing sound of running water with a fountain or even a statement waterfall.

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