We all have them, that one area that’s wasted outdoor space. Regardless of how big or small the outdoor area, there’s usually a way to maximize the space and make it more useful; if not prettier.
I have two areas in my one-acre garden that are begging for redevelopment. I have built-in seating and a fire pit in mind for one area and a Balinese-style deck and spa design for the other. This got me thinking about different ways homeowners can maximize wasted outdoor space and create something useful, and pretty.
Leisure Area: Corners can be problematic but lend themselves perfectly to areas for adult relaxation. If you have wasted outdoor space that’s in the far corner of your block or an awkward area next to the garage (or next-door neighbours), then you’ll love these options.
A simple raised deck with cushions and solar lights is all that’s required for a rustic setting. Or take this idea a step further with dual-level platforms enveloped with a raised garden bed that perfectly fits an open corner.
A purpose-built seating area with a garden sculpture and screens beautify an ugly wall whilst providing a terrific conversation pit. Talk to your builder about a design-for-purpose that suits your requirements.
Outdoor Office: Need some quiet space away from the main house? Utilise wasted outdoor space with a relatively simple build – an outdoor office. A professional building company such as Altec, who specialise in patios, carports, enclosures and screens, will be able to advise you on design, materials and build options.
Vertical Gardening: If you have a balcony, small courtyard, need to screen off a large garden or have an ugly wall then vertical gardening could be for you. Grow everything from fruit and vegetables to herbs, flowering plants and succulents to attain year-round lusciousness.
Whilst you can buy DIY units, you can also use 2L soft-drink bottles cut in half, lightweight hessian sacks hooked onto a wire grid, or even pots stacked on shelving. I found some great, and inexpensive, ideas on the Milkwood Pinterest page.
Kid’s Play Area: Let your imagination run riot with planning a fun play area in your wasted outdoor space. Build a cubby-house, add play equipment and a sand pit, then place colourful chairs or waterproof beanbags around for relaxation.
Teepees are increasingly popular for children’s play or as a relaxing reading zone. Buy one of the many available or build your on with three long sticks and some old bed sheets. Throw in some cool cushions and solar powered garden lights; you’re good to go.
For a smaller option, the integration of a sandpit with raised gardening beds (below) works perfectly.
Open Air Shower: There is something fabulous about bathing in the open. You might be surprised to know how many households are adding an open air shower or bath to their wasted outdoor space.
The great thing about an open air shower is you need to have some privacy, and many wasted outdoor spaces are wasted because they are on an inactive side of the house. Therefore, you really just need plumbing and some purpose-built screens.
Outdoor Cinema: I LOVE this idea, especially if you have a back projection screen. Sometimes we bring our large plasma screen out into the garden (with a long extension lead to the house) and add wine & nibbles; now that’s fun.
You just need some lounging chairs, throw rugs and hurricane lamps. If you haven’t tried this I can enthusiastically recommend it.
A Fire Pit: Great for entertaining with friends, fire pits can be used for cooking sausages and marshmallows on sticks or sipping drinks watching the sun go down. Fire pits can be fueled by gas or old-fashioned wood. They can be above ground, below ground, rustic, modern, industrial or bohemian. They are a terrific addition for those who like to entertain outside in the cooler months.
By way of a special mention, I love this idea from Dean Herald at Rolling Stone Landscapes – the retro hanging chairs totally appeal to me. What a great spot for relaxing with a book or entertaining friends; love it.
Do you have some wasted outdoor space you’d like to improve? Do you need some more help to create some ideas?