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Setting up garden rooms

By Hosea Omole | August 4th 2016 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Having separate outdoor living spaces allows you to create mini-landscape designs (each somewhat different from the rest) for each of them. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

The idea of dividing up your yard into different outdoor rooms and furnishing them to facilitate sitting, cooking, resting and play may sound a little far-fetched at first. To many of us, landscape is all about a cosmetic lawn and flowers.

Yet anyone who has tasted the joy of living in the garden will tell you to forget the enclosure of indoors; there is just something too refreshing about being out in the open on a beautiful sunny day or a calm starry evening.

Whether all you have is a balcony or a more elaborate garden space, ideas for living in the outdoors can be adapted to suit you. Depending on your space and budget, you can go for anything from a simple arrangement of garden seats on a balcony to fully-furnished outdoor rooms detailed with sophisticated furniture, appliances and decor to feel just as inviting and as cosy as any indoor room.

Plan the rooms

Think of your garden as comprising different rooms just like the interior. The only difference is that instead of masonry walls, carpeted or tiled floors and ceilings, outdoor rooms are defined by landscape elements.

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Hedges, flower gardens, earth mounds and garden structures make up the walls. Lawns and pavement are the outdoor floors while tree canopy, pergola roofs and the sky make up the garden’s ceilings.

The greatest challenge when creating outdoor rooms is how to divide and define the different functional spaces within the same landscape. Having separate outdoor living spaces allows you to create mini-landscape designs (each somewhat different from the rest) for each of them.

Not that you should not still strive for unity across your landscape design, as a whole. But the more successful you are in physically separating one outdoor living space from another, the more flexibility you have to diversify without ending up with an all-out war of functions.

The first step is to identify the different rooms and name them. List the functions you want to accommodate in your garden and analyse them in terms of noise, level of privacy and nature of activity involved.

You will notice that some functions complement each other and go hand in hand while others don’t. Try to locate the quiet, private and passive functions away from the noisy and active spaces.

Building the walls

Next, build the walls. Hedges are the most common form of walls in the garden. They can be used to form different degrees of enclosure by varying their heights and densities. Being natural, they are beautiful and you can play with numerous colour, textures or have them formal or informal.

You may also mould and shape your grounds to define different outdoor rooms. A significant change in level between adjacent grounds effectively divides the space into two.

Similarly, an earth mound cutting across a space creates two rooms on either side. Earth mounds are very effective although they take up a lot of space and are therefore not recommended for small gardens.

Garden structures and furniture may also be arranged to act as walls between different outdoor rooms. Pergolas, arbours and gazebos, can be incorporated to create semi-enclosed outdoor rooms. Trellises, decks, railings and lattice screens can also be constructed in a space to divide it up and create rooms. Should structures appear too intrusive (and they often do), soften them by training climbers to grow on them.

— The writer is a landscape architect.

landscaping home ownership gardening
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