Refresh your tired outdoor space

Private Property South Africa
The Roosting Venus

Learn how you can transform your tired outdoor space into a wannabe place.

Think courtyard, and we usually think table, chairs and flowers creeping up the wall. While many a courtyard lends itself well to decoration and extra living space, there are many areas inside and around our homes that don’t quite cut it.

Take any yard – a space enclosed by several walls, a space linking two buildings, a space trapped outside of a window and in front of a wall - and redefine it into an eye-catching, useful space. A few easy steps like clearing spaces of unsightly clutter, adding a lick of paint, fresh flooring, a trellis or well-positioned plant can make all the difference. So spend some time planning ways to maximise the potential of an area.

The area outside of my kitchen houses rubbish bins, buckets, hosepipes and a washing line:

  • Consider other places or methods of storage. You may be able to keep buckets and hoses somewhere else – or put in a neat storage cupboard in one corner. A waist-height storage facility could well be used as a tabletop or workbench too.
  • Dustbins are a necessary part of every household, but unfortunately not so good to look at. Consider screening them off with trellis work or plants – or give them a new twist – three bold bins against a feature wall can look quite fun.
  • A retractable washing line rolls back when not in use, creating extra space and allowing in light.
  • Fresh flooring – screed, tiles or gravel - plants in pots or a small border of plants may make all the difference.

The space joining my carport to the house creates a sad welcome:

  • Remove unnecessary clutter, and consider making a feature of things you can’t hide.
  • Re-flooring this area can make a big difference. It’s worth considering flooring here that is non-slip and easy to keep clean.
  • Painting the walls can help define areas like this, which may not be very regular in shape. If the area tends to be dark, a light colour is recommended, otherwise consider a colour that you feel happy to come home to.
  • This may be a place to consider placing a table to rest heavy objects on – that way when you search for the door keys you don’t need to bend to lift the shopping again.
  • As always with an entrance a focal point works wonders: think a plant, a water feature, a vertical garden, a sculpture.

There’s a dusty patch where plants never grow between a window and a boundary wall:

  • A wall beyond a window is the perfect place for an eye-catching feature – a colour, a sculpture, a stunning pot plant.
  • If you are having trouble growing grass or ground cover consider installing a type of flooring that does away with the need for vegetation.
  • Convert the space to a container garden area – containers allow for greater control over growing conditions.
  • Use the space for something else – add a hanging chair or a lounger and create a space to relax in.

If a space, no matter how small, has the potential to work and add to your living area, structural changes (such as replacing a window with a door) are worth considering. As demonstrated in many parts of the world, there’s almost always room for a table and chair or two.

It’s in your court!

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