A back garden paradise isn’t out of reach – stylish furniture and leafy plants can work wonders. Just choose your style: classic, oriental or contemporary-chic.
Words: Kay Kinsella and Sarah O’Hegarty
Source: House and Home Magazine May/June 2011 Issue
The Classic Look
They say you can’t improve on a classic, and indeed most Irish homes adopt the traditional leafy backyard. To complement this look, metallic furniture – wrought iron, aluminum or steel – is the perfect partner for classic styles. If you prefer the look of wood, teak is especially good, being long lasting and requiring the least maintenance. Classic garden furniture is traditionally black or white, but you can always experiment with bright colours, using specialist outdoor paint designed for metal. Good quality wooden furniture is attractive in its natural state, but needs an oiling each season. if you prefer to stain it, neutral colours like a natural green works especially well.
Edward Heatly, landscape architect, Avondale Landscapes gives us some top pointers on how to achieve the Classic look
- Classic gardens are characterised by bold geometrical elements and strong architectural forms. They should be simplistic, elegant and perfectly manicured to achieve symmetry, formality and a man-made appearance.
- Planting schemes can be extravagant, so make use of box hedging, topiary and lawns accompanied by lush displays of colourful flowers and leafy vegetation. Avoid wildflowers and instead go for classic roses, geraniums and camellias.
- A water fountain make a good focal point for a classic garden, with mazes, vases and urns adding decoration.
- Your main aim should be to recreate nature with a manicured effect, blending these together for the most picturesque setting. Shrubbery and hedging should be kept neat and trimmed, or shaped if you prefer a topiary look.
- For more advice and info check out: Avondale Landscapes, 0404 46007.
The Oriental Look
If you want your back garden to be a calm and tranquil space, the oriental style is ideal. This look is minimalistic and only natural furniture will do – bamboo, wicker and wood all help pull off the look. Synthetic rattan furniture is a great alternative to wicker: it achieves the same natural look, but is durable against the elements. Eastern-inspired accessories, from chimes to padoga houses and eclectic ornaments, bring further oriental Zen to your backdoor paradise.
Charles Kinsella, Landscape Gardener, Kinbark Products gives us some top pointers on how to achieve the Oriental look…
- The main objective is to make the most of the sun, so design and shelter your garden without blocking light out. Interlink your house and garden through a patio, making an outdoor room. For an oriental-style outdoor spaces, think tranquillity, peace and serenity.
- The use of plants and trees is vital. Screening and walls can be created with fast-growing bamboo and you can add colour with flowering cherry trees and Japanese maples. Bonsai trees are also a must for the oriental garden.
- A modern-style, rather than ornate, water feature is an ideal focal point for any oriental garden, since it adds a soothing soundtrack to your peaceful hideaway. In a larger garden where a pond is possible, complement it with a simple bridge for a truly eastern effect.
- Paths and stones are another key element to an oriental garden. Create pathways linking different areas of your garden with large pebbles or granite slabs.
- For more advice and info check out: Kinbark Products, 053 938 3247, www.kinbark.ie
The Contemporary Look
Whether your outdoor space is a balcony, or your home is a suburban semi with a small garden, the contemporary garden is a sleek, stylish solution with one massive benefit: it’s easily maintained. Key to the look is a basic palette of crisp, neutral colours such as whites and silvers, which act as a springboard for bolder colour injections such as fuschia and olive greens. For furniture, play around with different finishes such as plastics, woods and metallic, but bear in mind they must be of sleek design with modern shapes.
Mark Grehan of The Garden Florist, Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2 gives us some top pointers on how to achieve the Contemporary look…
- Paving, pathways and boundary walls are an intrinsic part of the contemporary backyard. Bear in mind the style of your house and the look that you want to achieve. If wood or tiling dominate indoors, continue this outside so the two spaces flow into one.
- In an urban garden, concrete is always a good choice. Crushed gravel gives texture and drama, especially when wet, and can soften up a dark or sparse space. In heavily gravelled areas, cobblestones can be complementary.
- The most interesting contemporary outdoor spaces have a focal point – a modern piece of sculpture would add a nice touch. Position it so that it is visible from inside the house. Don’t feel you have to splash out on something extravagant: a simple bench or a large boulder will be enough to create interest without over-complicating things.
- If you are working in a confined area then keep things simple. Choose a small number of plants and a definite colour palette to run throughout. If you want an all-white theme, use plants like agapanthus, alliums and helleborus for winter colour. Buxus balls and topiary buxom hedging will frame planting while ferns and hostas add texture. To add movement, use grass plants such as blue fescue grass and carex testacea.
- For more advice and info check out: Mark Grehan, 01 6125260/ 0872711277, www.markgrehandesigns.com
So to summarise, no matter what look you are going for here are some tips:
- Create a focal point with one key piece of statement furniture, both for entertaining and chilling out.
- Position your furniture carefully to ensure it gets maximum sunshine, and can be repositioned as the sun moves around the garden.
- Furniture should not make other areas of the garden inaccessible, nor should it be too large for the space, as this will only make a small garden look tinier.
- Store furniture away during the winter months or invest in a cover to protect it.
- You should use the correct stain, paint, wax or preservative to coat furniture and make it last longer.