It’s warmer, the sun beginning to shine, and the outside beckons. With it comes the realisation that much more could be made of our own little green patches of England.
There’s been a boom recently in creatively fashioning, decorating and using garden buildings. Best shed competitions, man caves, women’s caves (or she-sheds), garden offices or outdoor rooms, are all getting featured heavily in design media, and creating a whole new subgenre of garden design to pour over.
Most of us have to face the practicalities that our sheds will remain just that: a shed. It stores all the bits and pieces that get thrown in to keep them out of the elements, and out of sight. Luckily the practical shed is neither expensive nor difficult to build, and newly-decorated, can be a lovely sight at the bottom of the garden. The necessities of life can’t be overlooked; so if it’s function is to store or decorate, Regency Garden Buildings have softwoods apex sheds from £179, painted in various shades of blue, green, grey. Make sure you chose one large enough to store your paraphernalia – bikes, lawnmower, planters, strimmers, sand pits. But with a little more planning, and budget, of course, garden buildings can be so much more than a store space for bicycles and garden tools. Who wouldn’t like a whole extra room to use all year round; as a workshop, office or as a sheltered al-fresco area to bring the outdoors in.
Greenhouses are often overlooked by many non-green-fingered people. There is a reason that orangeries were popular Victorian extensions. As well as being the perfect controlled climate to nurture seedlings and young plants, they can be a perfect and stylish place to socialise, or lounge in. Gin and cucumber, foliage, light, tropical warmth and cast iron finishes – what’s not to love? Finish the floor in slate; add Lloyd Loom furniture and some orchids, and you’re away. Furnish with some greenhouse heaters, louvres and strategic shading, and suddenly it’s a space that really can be used all year round.
If this appeals, it’s worth looking at Robinson’s Radley from their new Victorian range. It’s not the cheapest option, but it has some lovely touches. It comes with cast aluminium spandrels, stands 10 feet tall at the apex, with lockable door and up to 20 feet wide – although this can be extended to create a larger space if needed. And its framework comes with a 10-year guarantee. As the name suggests, the styling and quality are both distinctively Victorian.
Summer houses are perfect for using as offices, workshops, guest bedrooms, or just to chill in on summer evenings. Designs differ wildly, from concrete and glass modern spaces, to cedar-clad octagonal buildings, via log cabins. Normally they won’t even need planning permission.
If you’ve a large garden, or panoramic views to choose, a nice quirk on octagonal summer houses is mounting it on a rotating base, giving you a fabulous revolving summerhouse. Turn into, or away from, the sun. Look towards the house to be sociable, or into the countryside for ‘me’ time. This ingenious mechanism was popularised by the Victorians, so it’s not a new concept, but it’s being brought back by Scotts of Thrapston.
Scotts are a well-respected company, founded in 1920 and still going strong. Their range, produced in partnership with the RHS, can provide a mix of the practical and beautiful they say is “the perfect quintessentially English hideaway.” They cover all the extras you might want, from external colours, to internal seating design and upholstery. Scotts summerhouse prices start at £3,250; Andover Garden Buildings can show you their range, and they also offer summerhouses from Lugarde, or Regency whose prices start from £2,000. Perhaps the ultimate relaxation space, and understandably popular, are spas and hot tubs. Kicking back under stars, massaged by warm jets of water sounds like a perfect use of an outdoor space to me. Having a tub under a lean-to can make a usable space in even the worst weather, and make for a shady space out of the summer sun.
Pools and tubs aren’t for everyone, but if they’re for you they might be a bit of luxury that’s affordable. Entry level hot tubs from Elite Spas and Leisure start at £3,000 for a two-person Zen Getaway system. That’s a complete quality system, and comes with a 10-year guarantee. Elite Spas offer pools, hot tubs and saunas. They also offer finance on purchases to spread the cost, and to ensure you’re wet area is up and running, or bubbling, as quickly as possible.
Andover Garden Buildings can cater for all budgets from £179 upward. Trading for more than 25 years, within the local area, the company can supply top quality buildings for a good price, from sheds, greenhouses, summerhouses, gazebos, log cabins, children’s play houses, pet houses, timber products, garages and carports and much more.