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Alfresco Living: Creating an Outdoor Space You’ll Love and the Costs Involved

Landscape by Donna Winters; photography by Art Holeman

Spending more time outside has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. In other words, it’s good for you! But in a world of hectic schedules and to-do lists as long as your arm, planning day trips to the great outdoors isn’t always easy. That’s where your garden comes in.

By creating a garden that’s an extension of your living space, you’ll naturally spend more time among nature and get your daily dose of vitamin D. With an al fresco design and the right budget, getting outside is as easy as staying in. Discover tips to uplift your space in this handy guide.

The Cost of a Garden Renovation

Renovating a garden isn’t cheap—let’s just get that out of the way now. Full landscaping of a small space is likely to cost you a few thousand dollars, with an average of around $10,000 for a complete outdoor overhaul. Smaller gardens can be half of that, coming in at around $2,000-$5,000, but still taking a large chunk out of your bank account. Of course, there are ways to complete a garden renovation on a budget, including:

  • Using second-hand or salvaged materials
  • Doing it yourself instead of hiring a contractor
  • Not overhauling your entire space
  • Upcycling what you already have

However, if you want to drastically change your space, switching pavers to grass and replacing your fences, expect to spend!

Financing a Garden Renovation

It’s important to note that a garden renovation can add value to your property. So, even though you’ll be spending the cash, you’re likely to see all of your money (and more) back when you sell. So, if you’re struggling to finance your renovation, it can be worthwhile looking into loan options.

There are traditional bank loans and credit cards, as well as private loans from friends or family. Alternative options for property owners are worth looking into, as well, such as a home equity loan, which allows you to tap into some of the equity you’ve built up from paying off your mortgage without selling your home.

For individuals who do take out a loan in the hopes of adding value to your property, be sure to design wisely. A neutral, nicely landscaped outdoor area is your best bet for upping the price of your home.

Planning an Outdoor Space

It’s advisable not to jump straight into a garden renovation without some prior planning. Sort out a budget with well-researched estimates and quotes to ensure you can afford everything you want.

For inexperienced gardeners, consider hiring a professional landscape architect. A professional can advise you on the best ways to utilize your space for what you want, all while sticking to your budget. Your architect may have useful contacts, too, helping you get discounts on materials for a smart investment.

If you’re not using a landscape architect, draw garden inspiration from:

Al Fresco Living Design Tips

Al fresco living is all about blending the inside with the outside. Your garden is designed to be an extension of your living area, where you can eat, entertain and relax with ease. With that in mind, here are some top tips for creating a beautiful outdoor space that you’ll love to live in.

Focus on Comfortable Seating

It’s a no-brainer that you’ll include seating in your alfresco outdoor area, but remember to focus on comfort as well as style. A lot of garden furniture isn’t made to be sat on for hours on end, but if you’re entertaining guests or working from home outside, your choices should be comfortable. Prioritize cushions, ergonomic design and stable structures while considering aesthetics.

Outdoor Coffee Tables

A coffee table in the garden isn’t conventional, but it’s a stylish, contemporary addition to an alfresco space that’s super functional. The low level of a coffee table adds a relaxed vibe, whilst the additional surface is always useful for mugs, wine glasses, plates and books. Add a potted plant to your table to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor deco.

Create Shelter From the Weather

Well-designed gardens can be used all year round, regardless of the weather. Ensure you have shelter from the rain by using a pergola or umbrellas to create dry seating areas and add outdoor heat lamps for chilly days and misters for the summer heat.

Play With Ground-Level Surfaces and Textures

Beautiful outdoor spaces often incorporate different ground-level surfaces. Consider adding decking or paved areas too for your dining/seating spot. For a cozier feel, lay an outdoor rug over your decking or paving to add plenty of character to your space. Don’t be afraid to work with different levels, too, using raised beds to add depth to your garden and raised decking for clear separation of your garden/living areas.

How to Design a Garden on a Budget

Even with financing, the cost of a renovation is still high. If you don’t have the budget but still want the gorgeous space, there are plenty of cost-saving ideas for alfresco gardens.

Be sure to scour vintage and antique shops for second-hand outdoor furniture. Online marketplaces, such as eBay, are great for this, too. If you’re a DIY fan, try sourcing second-hand materials and upcycling them into new garden decor and furnishings. There is tons of second-hand wood cladding out there, for example, that can be repurposed into decking or a new garden table.

Revamp the furniture you already have, too. Old sofas and chairs can be uplifted with new cushions, whilst a lick of paint on an old coffee table can do wonders.

In terms of the natural area of your garden, focus on reshaping your borders, replenishing worn-out lawns, and adding a few healthy plants to quickly transform your space on a budget.

Final Words

An alfresco garden is an ideal way to spend more time outdoors, giving you a mental health boost and ensuring you make the most of the great outdoors. Hopefully, this article has given you a better idea of what you can expect to pay for a renovation, as well as some inspiration to start your plans. Just remember to budget before you begin and look into finance options to bring your vision to life.


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