Creating a beautiful outdoor room – where do I start on a budget?

Having an outside space is not limited to a garden full of flowers and trees that you can admire from behind the windows of your kitchen. Even the smallest of outside spaces can be turned into an additional room where you can relax, read, entertain friends, and just contemplate life in the fresh air, even if it is a bit chilly.

In fact, sometimes the smaller the space the better. You can give yourself free rein to be as creative and adventurous as you like.

First things first – Understand your space 

You don’t need the gardening skills of Alan Titchmarsh or Monty Don to create a great outdoor seating area. Instead, simply start by casting an appraising eye over the area you want to transform. How does the sun move in and out of the area at different times of the day? Is it private, away from neighbors prying eyes? Is it in a sheltered spot out of the wind? What’s the ground like underfoot? Are there any walls surrounding it? What is access like? What does it look out on? 

Once you’ve cast a subjective eye over the space, you can start to build a picture of what you want to achieve. If you’re not particularly creative don’t worry about it – maybe simply start from the ground up, and the rest will take care of itself. The important thing is to start to make some changes.

Start with under your feet

We are looking at creating an outside room, so you want to imagine the space with the equivalent of an outside ‘carpet’. Often if an area has been neglected, it might need overhauling. You may be able to source some suitable paving slabs at a local merchants, or online using various local buy and sell sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.

Don’t be afraid to look at alternatives that you might not have even considered before. Artificial grass technology, for example, has progressed massively over the last few years, and there are many varieties that can make it feel as though you are stepping on the softest, most luscious of lawns. Not only does it look consistently fresh and beautiful, it covers up unsightly ground, is robust enough to withstand the coldest of winters, and is incredibly easy to maintain – just needs a bit of a hose down every now and again. And for a smaller space it can be incredibly cost effective, as it lasts for up to 10 years or more. The perfect outside carpet.

Easy planting for structure

Slowly build up your collection of pots and plants. Scour your local free listings for any that someone might be throwing out. Charity shops often have the occasional glut after a house clearance.

Plant them up with colorful perennials – if looked after, come back year after year to give you repeated joy. 

Plant annuals in larger containers and use these strategically placed to add year round structure. 

A bare wall can be used to create a permanent piece of natural art, such as an espaliered tree. Plant a small tree and train it to grow splayed across the wall. If it is sun facing  you can choose a fruit tree, such as pears or apples. A Pyracantha is a dramatic choice as its red berries last right through the winter. 

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