Outdoor Living

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Create an Outdoor Living Area

Come summer and the outdoors beckon invitingly. Make the most of fine weather by extending your living and dining areas into your garden. With a little planning and imagination, your green space can transform into a comfortable and charming alfresco zone for spending relaxed hours with the family or entertaining in style. You don’t have to break the bank either, to accomplish this!

The Garden As Backdrop

If gardening is your hobby, you’re half-way there already. If you’re just starting out, buy basic garden tools (cutting and pruning implements, a stainless steel hand fork, spade, etc.), visit a local nursery and pick up tips.

The garden is your canvas, so to speak – what sort of picture will you paint? A manicured and landscaped setting looks immaculate, but it requires a lot of maintenance. A slightly wild, back-to-nature look is easier for the casual gardener. Think tall, reedy grasses, ferns and perennials. Create depth with light and dark shades of green; look out for plants with variegated leaves, flowering and ornamental fruit trees. Build a raised flower bed with stone edging for interest. A pergola or trellis with a flowering vine like Antigonon leptopuscan (Coral Vine) adds charm. A water feature trickling softly is wonderfully soothing to the eye and ear.


With appropriate lighting, your little corner of paradise becomes a romantic bower in the evenings. Invest in solar garden lamps or natural lighting with various fuels (citronella oil, for example, also keeps insects away).

Furniture And Accessories

Garden furniture should be weatherproof, light and not visually overpowering. Wicker furniture is attractive but needs care – why not go for faux wicker instead ? Another option is a wooden picnic table-and-chair set, with provision for a parasol. For a pool area, you’ll want loungers and several lightweight, stackable chairs for guests. If the available area is limited, look for furniture with clean, sleek lines that won’t give a cluttered look. Sling a hammock chair from a sturdy tree branch; a hammock between two trees is great for an afternoon snooze. Kids love swinging for hours on a rubber tyre.
Keep cushions with loose covers handy for longer days spent outdoors. Large, bright floral and fruit prints are cheerful – think colours like watermelon, cherry reds, fluorescent greens and sunny yellows.  Stripes in candy colours or blue-and-white look smart. Keep one set of covers exclusively for party times.

Tips For Entertaining

While entertaining, create varied lighting effects on different occasions with candles in hurricane glass holders, oil lamps, paper lanterns or brightly coloured wax candles in glasses. Table centrepieces could consist of inexpensive, clear glass bowls filled with seashells, coral and colored pebbles and stones picked up on vacations. Create additional seating with bean bags and floor cushions which you may already own – place these on synthetic rugs.

Some Must-Haves While Entertaining:

  • A cooler box
  • Wooden bar trolley
  • Pretty melamine tableware (colour coordinate with your cushion covers!)
  • Acrylic glasses
  • Drinks trays
  • If space allows,  consider building a permanent bar counter with an awning where all this can be stashed away.
  • The final touch – a braai and picnic set!

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