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11th September 2018

Living Al Fresco

Enjoy the sun in style and make your outdoor living space sparkle

Dare we say it… but so far this year we have been rewarded for toiling through a long, cold winter with some lovely sunny weather. Of course, by the time this article goes to print we could well be experiencing torrential rain but we’re going to think positive here and tell you how to embrace the latest trends in al-fresco living.

Outdoor Living room

It seems us Brits can’t get enough of living outside, despite our dubious weather, as sales of garden furniture and accessories are increasing year on year. This year it’s all about comfort and retailers are offering everything you need for an outdoor living room. Think comfortable sofas piled with bright cushions, coffee tables, even outdoor lamps and rugs. Use a pergola for rain-proofing and perhaps add an outdoor fire and you’re all set for summer evenings outside.

Outdoor Cooking

Entertaining in the garden is more popular than ever, but consumers are looking for more than a traditional barbecue.

Home smoking has become a trend. John Lewis has seen a surge in popularity for the Landmann Tennessee Smoker, with sales up a whopping 1,095%.

The choice of BBQs is becoming rapidly wider and more technical. Some offer more than one surface and different sections to cook on, and these gourmet designs have seen a 132% rise in sales. Meanwhile a new type of outdoor oven, intriguingly named Big Green Egg, is promising a revolution in al fresco cooking. The Egg is based on a Vietnamese-style smoker and uses NASA-developed ceramics to deliver the perfect 1000 degree cooking surface.

Hammocks and hanging chairs

Take chilling out to the next level with one of this year’s trendy hammocks or cocoon-style swing chairs. Sales of the product have doubled since 2015 and the hammock is now a garden essential offering a relaxing haven for adults and great fun for kids.

Brazilian style hammocks offer a traditional look in colourful fabrics and can be hung Island-style between trees or you can buy a stand to swing from. Hanging hammock style chairs offer a versatile option as you can use them indoors or outdoors.  Our favourite though is the innovative pop-up style ‘Cacoon’ hammock inspired by the nest of the Mexican Weaver Finch, proving that all the best ideas come from nature.

Living Walls

The trend for lush and leafy greenery that started in 2017 continues to gather pace, and this year sees the launch of living wall planters to tap into the vertical gardening trend.

Dobbies Garden Centres have launched an innovative type of vertical planter that is self-watering. The planters can be fitted onto a fence or even the side of a garden shed. Ideal plants for a living wall include low maintenance ferns, heather and grasses such as the flame coloured ‘Carex Prairie Fire’.

Living walls have many benefits. They are a great way to get more greenery into small urban gardens and balconies. They also contribute to improving urban air quality and help to screen out noise.

Fire Features

A fire feature allows you to enjoy your garden for longer once summer evenings turn chilly plus its ideal for toasting marshmallows with the kids. One of the hottest trends for 2018, there are several different options on the market.

If you are having new areas of hard landscaping put in then you could consider getting a pit built into your scheme. Built-in seats around your fire pit encourage a sociable atmosphere and you can even get bespoke lids for your pit to turn it into a table. Make sure you do your research about positioning and construction though as the soot deposited by the fire can damage furniture and paving.

An easy alternative is a portable ethanol burning firepit. These offer a cleaner burn and can be moved around your garden to suit the season. There are some stunning contemporary designs available including garden tables with built in central firepits.