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December 22 2013 Latest news:
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Look around for inspiration to help you make the most of your garden as an 'outdoor room' for all the family says Martin Fish
Many plants are in full growth and hopefully looking at their best this month. Its also a time for many people when they really begin to use and enjoy their garden over the summer months.
A garden has many uses. During the summer it often becomes an outdoor dining room, a place to sit and relax or an activity area for children.
Its a time when the garden becomes an extension of your home, in other words, an outdoor room. Of course, what we mustnt forget is a garden is also about growing wonderful plants.
Its not unusual for people to change features within their garden every few years as a garden matures and evolves.
Ive noticed these days a trend towards more natural areas of garden being developed. It might be as simple as allowing a few wild flowers to develop in a corner of the garden or the planting of a few extra native trees and shrubs, which of course will also help to attract pollinating insects and wildlife.
Whole gardens have also become natural with streams and borders of longer grass and wild flowers. In the right setting this type of garden looks very good, but even though they are designed to look natural, gardens still need to be managed to prevent certain plants from dominating. I think simple wooden or stone benches are useful in these settings. They look rustic, are hardwearing and are pretty much maintenance free.
Theres also a trend to add an element of fun into the garden and one really good example I noticed the other day was a small garden with a Hobbit house, complete with grass roof. It was built against an existing wall using pressure treated wood.
It could be handy as a tool or garden store as well as a childrens play den. A lovely garden planted with a selection of shrubs and perennials surrounded it. And its the kind of feature that would sit neatly in a town house garden or as part of a much larger one.