As homeowners gravitate outdoors, the sky is the limit when designing an outdoor living or entertaining area. This area, like any other area in a home, should incorporate green design in a way that it is harmonious with the surrounding vegetation and buildings, and provide a relaxing haven that is mentally relaxing.
Incorporate green design into outdoor structures
Buying locally produced materials and supplies is the first step in a decision to incorporate green design into outdoor structures. If this is not possible, look at importers that take responsible steps towards eco or green design principles.
Where possible, work within the existing framework of the garden to minimise environmental impact and reduce waste.
For example, if you need to remove or dig up an existing concrete patio, incorporate the waste into a foundation for the new base, or see how these materials can be used in the construction process for this or any other design elements being added.
Design built structures to be constructed from green materials such as reclaimed bricks and timber, roof with organic finishes that include bamboo, reed or thatch or re-use any tiles removed from other structures.
While the opportunity exists, look at installing solar panels as a roofing option for an outdoor structure. This not only provides shelter for your patio or garden room, it offers a site to mount solar panels to provide solar energy for a home.
Sourcing your timber and steel requirements from a salvage yard is another way to integrate recycled materials into the design process, as is making use of natural alternatives such as stone and locally sourced rock.
Add hardscaping that minimises impact on your garden
While you will need a solid concrete slab for any structures, wherever possible ensure any hardscaping surfaces allow for water runoff and rainwater drainage.
Permeable surfaces such as gravel, stone, pebbles and pavers with gaps inbetween, allow for proper water drainage and ensure your garden doesn't become water-logged.
Water wise technology should be implemented in landscaping to reduce water loss. Reducing the size of grassed areas and choosing a grass variety that requires less watering and maintenance is not only water wise, it also reduces the need for mowing and fertilising. While a family garden needs grass for play and recreation, keep grassed areas to a minimum and look at hardscaping alternatives for surrounding boundaries.
Plant up indigenous or drought-resistant beds and borders that require little or no maintenance. Your local garden centre will be able to offer advice on the best plants that offer seasonal interest, colourful foliage or flowers. Also ask you local garden centre for advice on low-maintenance shrubs and trees appropriate to the size of your garden and region.
Irrigation plays an important role in a water wise garden installation. The ability to be able to pre-set a timer for seasonal irrigation greatly reduces water loss due to evaporation. If space permits, look at the installation of rainwater harvesting. JoJo rainwater tanks collect rain from your gutters and downspouts, making this available for use in the garden, or for an outdoor shower.
All-year round outdoor living
For all-year round outdoor living, installing a fireplace or firepit heats up a space during the cooler months.
There are a variety of eco-friendly heating options for indoors and outdoors that use ethanol as the heating source.
Additionally, adding panels or drapes to enclose the space will result in less fuel required for heating.