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Entertaining outdoors with family and friends is now standard fare for the Kiwi lifestyle and this means our outdoor living areas have evolved far past the humble deck.

We have seen a trend towards multi-purpose outdoor living areas that are not only practical, but also incredibly stylish spaces.

Award-winning garden and landscape designer, Sandra Batley from Flourish Garden Concepts talks about how to create a great outdoor area.

What are the essential elements to incorporate into any outdoor living space?

The essentials are practical things like a seating area that is big enough to incorporate an outdoor dining table and a barbeque that people can move around effortlessly.

Shelter from the rain and protection from the sun in the form of an outdoor umbrella, pergola or shade sail.

Privacy is also very important, especially in high density residential zones. This can be created with careful strategic planting, screens and other hard landscaping features. Important but not essential is outdoor lighting and irrigation.

Best piece of advice for those embarking on a garden makeover?

Work with a designer to help you get those ideas out of your head and onto paper.

Get a master plan created personally for you, so you can work on it yourself as funds and time become available, or get priced up by a reputable landscape contractor.

Remember the plan is only as good as the execution and a good designer can put you in contact with the right contractors.

What is the most common mistake people make when renovating their outdoor space?

People under estimate the amount of time, work and money it takes to create a great looking outdoor space.

Most people think they can do the work themselves instead of paying for a professional.

They tend to make costly mistakes and end up with a really bad result.

It is also common to see cost cutting on essential elements such as good drainage and ground prep.

What is the key to creating a stylish and functional outdoor living area?

Keep the design simple but above all functional; don’t fall for fads or quick fixes. Get a plan which really excites you and fits your budget.

You’re better to choose high-end materials that last the test of time.

What are some simple steps to enhance a deck from drab to fab?

Simply, clean sand and stain especially if it’s looking worst for wear. A fresh coat of stain can do wonders, but do a test first!
Dress up the deck with stylish pots and beautiful plants and outdoor furniture.

To find out more about Sandra Batley and Flourish Garden Concepts, visit:

By: Jamie Quinn