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Outdoor Living

Words Sharon Newey | Photos Paul McCredie | NZ House & Garden, 2022

Smaller sections, more demands on our time and the desire for hardworking yet comfortable spaces – there are several influences affecting what we’d love in our outdoor living areas.

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Stoke the fire, and gather friends and family for food served alfresco

Happily, this is coupled with the advent of improved products like louvred rooves, artificial lawn, fires and fire pits, lighting, designer furniture and a range of outdoor cooking options. Says Christchurch based garden designer Henry Blakely: “The idea of a garden as a designed living space has come to the fore. These outdoor spaces are increasingly viewed as an extension of the indoor living space, with many of the same comforts and conveniences like outdoor kitchens complete with plumbing and refrigeration, and living spaces with couches, fireplaces and even televisions.” It all helps with the desire of many to spend more of the year round outdoors and not just during summer.

Douglas Fireplaces from Trendz

Outdoor Living Trends

Says Wellington-based garden designer Rachael Matthews: “People want more from their space; not just a pretty garden to look at and a loawn to mow – that’s weekend work and there are so amny other things competing for people’s time.”


Rachael predicts a huge change during the next 10 year as the housing market pressure continues and smaller, multi-functional outdoor spaces become more common. Privacy & shelter may be harder to achieve.

“People don’t want to feel overlooked. The solutions is usually a multilayared approach that includes window treatments and fences, climbing plants trained on walls, pleached and tall slender trees and tree standards that grow above the fence. It’s often about creating layers and distractions, not just having a prison-like wall, and still allowing good light. I often su=ggest floral and leafy wallpapers to extend the feeling of outside spaces inside, so the garden feels bigger and not so hemmed in.”

Climate change will also impact, says Rachael. People need to make their gardens more resilient to increasingly extreme weather fluctuations and a warmer, drier climate. Adopting practices such as on-site rainwater collection and using mulch, as well as selecting site suitable plants.”

Concern about food security may see you want a vegetable and herb garden that’s not hidden around the corner, but handy to the outdoor cooking zone.

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Whatever the size of the space, Henry suggests homeowners ask themselves these questions: What aspects do you love and what do you hate? Where is the prevailing wind? Where is the sun at different times of the day? What views do you love and where do you want more privacy? Does the space need to work in conjunction with any other outdoor space or activity? Does it need to be oriented towards a swimming pool or tennis court or is your focus outdoor living and entertaining?

Also consider the future – will that pool be such a focus when the children are grown up or will teenagers need a separate space?

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