High style - low maintenance gardens
It's the time of the year when spending time outdoors is getting a bit on the chilly side, but it's a great time to think about the spring and summer months ahead. While the garden is dormant you have the time to plan for any changes that you want to make to increase your enjoyment of your own home for entertainment.
There's a difference between the modern outdoor space and what's been the standard in the past. Today, a few stray folding chairs on the grass and boerewors on a beat-up old braai doesn't quite cut it anymore. Outdoor spaces are increasingly viewed as extensions of a home's interior - and just as worthy of careful designing and planning. That doesn't necessarily mean spending a fortune - one of the best ways to keep costs reasonable is to use materials that don't require a lot of maintenance.
Your first step is creating the space. Your house has walls to define individual spaces - without them, it would be impossible to decorate and maximize the functionality of an area.
Think of your outdoor space in the same way. Though you won't necessarily need walls, you can literally lay the foundation by adding a paved or tiled area, a deck or building a covered patio. All of these provide a space for seating, cooking and interaction that's separate from the garden or the lawn, making it an ideal solution for creating the focal point of your outdoor living space.
To bring some decorative verve to your entertainment area, add colour and consistent style elements. Rather than amassing a group of mismatched chairs, choose a suite of outdoor furniture to help create a more cohesive design statement that gives your space the look of a well-designed living room.
No matter what price you pay for the furniture, make sure that it's weather and fade resistant - there are options that even stand up to being outdoors throughout the year. For extra protection, consider purchasing furniture covers that will keep the elements at bay.
Adding colour is easy with planters filled with annuals - combine flowers, like vibrant tuberous begonias, and foliage, such as the variegated leaves of many coleus varieties, for interesting texture and colour variation.
There is an ever-expanding selection of planters that are made of recycled plastics that have the appearance of stone or pottery - far easier to move around. Plus you can always buy a can of Rust-Oleum Stone spray at your local Builders Warehouse to dress them up!
Having a view from your deck is also important. If you're not in possession of a green thumb, it's still possible to create an attractive backdrop that doesn't demand too much attention from you.
Flowering trees, like crabapples or plums, or shrubs, like hydrangeas or lilacs, offer two different looks with one plant. Look for varieties that have form and foliage just as appealing as the flowers, such as sand cherries, which have soft pink blossoms and glossy red leaves, and you'll have a plant that you can enjoy with minimal maintenance.
Choosing perennial plants makes it easier to maintain your garden from year to year, and adding plants of varying heights, colours and textures creates visual interest.
Investing in long-lasting, low-maintenance amenities, you'll be able to have full enjoyment of your home.