As many of us are working from home, it’s essential to grab those precious few moments in the garden, terrace or balcony to recharge and unwind. We’ve gathered some tips on how to make the best of your outdoor space.
It goes without saying that spending time outdoors is beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Nature offers an abundance of positive effects including improvements in mood and physical health, reduction of stress and anxiety and, in general, helps you feel more relaxed.
Above: Relax in the garden
According to the mental health charity Mind UK, research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment, which involves doing activities outside amongst nature) can help with depression. They also suggest that being out and about in natural light can have a positive impact on those experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects people during a particular season or time of year (primarily winter).
While, the majority of us are stuck indoors, there’s no reason why we can’t take a break and wander in the outdoor space at home. Here are some handy tips to help you make the most of it.
Firstly, you need to be clear on what you do inside, and what you do outside. The general assumption is to work indoors and relax outdoors. If you have a balcony or roof terrace, you can easily designate these spaces as your relaxing zones. If you have a large garden and struggle to stay inside and work during warm, sunny days, then divide the garden in sections. Designate one section as your ‘office’ for the day and designate another part of the garden for you to unwind and enjoy the nature around you.
This is essential, especially if you have a small outdoor space such as an apartment balcony or small terrace. If the area is cluttered with furniture, chances are, you won’t ever set foot outside. Keep only what you need outside, such as a couple of chairs and a table. If you have a compact space, small and multi-functional pieces are best. Foldaway bistro sets are ideal for alfresco dining in small areas and ottoman seats are perfect for providing comfortable seating and are an easy storage solution.
Go for an outdoor workout
Above: Exercising in the garden
Research from Harvard Medical School suggests that if you make going outside a goal, then you’re more likely to spend less time in front of a screen and spend more time doing activities that move your body. So, why not set some time aside in your day and make your outdoor space a workout area? Aerobics and on the spot jogging are perfect activities to get your body and mind moving – even if you have limited space. Running is also an excellent form of exercise whatever your space. (You might have heard about the man who ran a whole marathon on his balcony during the lockdown in France.)
Create a cosy ambience
Above: Outdoor lighting can enhance an outdoor space
If you’re going to spend more time in your outdoor space, then you need to make it as comfortable as possible. Uplighting and wall lights can create a cosy atmosphere and make smaller areas look and feel larger. For a warm, casual aesthetic, place coloured fairy lights on the fence or wall, or hang lanterns around your outdoor space.
Having the right furniture helps too. Wicker chairs offer a timeless look and are especially comfortable with extra cushions. If your outdoor area is completely exposed to the elements, then weather-resistant metals and weather-proof fabrics are the best to ensure you’re prepared for whatever the temperamental British weather throws at you!
On the same note, it doesn’t need to be a hot, sunny day for you to enjoy your outdoor space. Installing an outdoor heater or fire pit will help you enjoy the outdoors during the cooler months.
Above: Colourful plants cheer up outdoor spaces
You can make the most of your outdoor by simply giving it some colour. If it looks aesthetically pleasing, you’ll spend more time outside. Flowers instantly give a garden a lift, whatever its size and you don’t just have to enjoy them in the summer months. Flowers such as pansies and heather bring a pop of colour during the dreary winter season.
Smaller areas such as balconies and terraces can look just as beautiful and tranquil as a garden, if it has the right plants to cheer it up, but try not to overdo it – decorating your space with too many plants, might make it feel like a jungle. Small potted plants are perfect for compact and large spaces while tall plants add a touch of sophistication to patios and terraces. Climbing plants, such as vine give your balcony or terrace extra height, and others such as the Virginia Creeper, add a splash of colour.