Furniture arranged on the lawn always feels temporary and annoyingly it has to be moved every time you mow. So, if you have the space, consider creating a sunken area for seating, furnished with a table, chairs and umbrella.
Expert tip: Use this area as a planting opportunity. Create planting pockets in the tops of the walls and make flower beds for scented blooms of salvia and lavender. Crazy paving from recycled broken slabs can made to fit any shape. Use them for wavy-edge beds that look interesting from an upstairs window.
Turn your garden into a gorgeous room by transforming boring paving at the back of the house into a sheltered allweather dining area, protected by a pergola.
Expert tip: A patio made from smooth paving gives an even surface for furniture, but you can extend the area for entertaining using gravel. Use aggregate of at least 20mm to discourage cats using it as a litter tray and allow 40kg per square metre.
Follow the sun and make a note of the best spots for sitting out at different times of day. Create seating areas that offer the alluring promise of a secret hideaway to read or take a nap in as well as being a place to congregate with friends.
Expert tip: Nothing’s nicer than chilling in a flower meadow. So consider turning over part of your lawn to wild prairie planting with a mixture of herbaceous species and ornamental grasses. Leave a clearing for sitting and cover the ground with pavers or bark.
Create a raised wooden deck to overlook the most scenic spots of your garden. Plant the beds behind the decking with colourful, scented plants but keep in mind that some of these may attract bees!
Expert tip: Make your sitting area roomy enough to accommodate a 5ft bench and a coffee table or dining set with three or four chairs. When guests come, put a bouquet on the table, relax back and admire your handiwork!
Paths can be used to not only link areas of the garden but to make strolling through it more interesting. So opt for curves and soft angles rather than straight lines and sharp corners because even the slightest curve in a path helps soften the view and makes it feel more peaceful. If you want to capture the look and atmosphere of an authentic old English garden, try combining different materials. Stone pavers, for example, are an attractive match for both gravel and decorative brick work.
Expert tip: Why not create viewing points along your path? At spots where you’ll want to linger longer, fill the cracks between paving stones with low-growing colourful flowers, creeping greenery, and aromatic herbs such as thyme and pennyroyal that will release clouds of their sensuous fragrance when trodden underfoot.
Style tip Seating is key to your design, so spend time thinking where it will be – beside the house or in a suntrap – and how it will look, from sunken patio, to decking or a simple brick area.