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Get in the zone! How to make more of your garden this summer

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Gardens have become highly desirable and have had to work hard at increasingly being the centre of our lives, as people make the most of their outdoor space amid the pandemic.

Figures from GoCompare reveal that 47 per cent of households have spent money on garden improvements during lockdown, with a total of £25.9billion spent on enhancing our ‘outdoor rooms’ with lighting, furniture, canopies, pizza ovens, hot tubs and more.

Those lucky enough to have gardens have been using them extensively during the past year. Gardens have become places to exercise, play, eat, entertain, grow food and relax away from the confines of the same four walls day-in and day-out.

With so many diverse needs to serve, some are turning to garden zoning to help make the most of their outdoor space.

Dividing your garden into zones can help to make the most of the outdoor space available

Dividing your garden into zones can help to make the most of the outdoor space available 

It is important to zone your planting areas, just as you would with other areas of your garden

It is important to zone your planting areas, just as you would with other areas of your garden

An outdoor kitchen is perfect for everything from socialising outside to relaxed family meals, and can feel like an extension of your home

An outdoor kitchen is perfect for everything from socialising outside to relaxed family meals, and can feel like an extension of your home

Jack Simpson, of Nomad Developments, explained: ‘Garden zoning means you can make the most of the space available.’

His garden at West Hill Place, in London’s Putney, features distinct zones for its heated pool, bar area with seating, outdoor cooking and dining area and lawn. There are also areas for established bushes and mature trees, as well as easy-to-maintain plants.

‘Look at the space you’ve got and think creatively about how you want to use it,’ he said. 

‘But also think practically. If you don’t want to dedicate time maintaining a lawn, for example, opt for artificial grass. And if you’re installing an outdoor kitchen, think about storage, power, plumbing and the durability of the materials you’re going to use.’

Dining and cooking area

If you’re refreshing the look of your garden for the summer, an outdoor kitchen could be just what you desire.

An outdoor kitchen is perfect for everything from socialising outside to relaxed family meals, and can feel like an extension to your home.

The same can be said of outdoor bar zones. Whether it is a quiet, after-work cocktail to decompress, or a few beers in the sunshine when socialising outside, having a bar in the garden can prove a big attraction.

There are various designs depending on your budget – and you’re not excluded from having an outdoor kitchen area if your finances only stretch to £100 and you’re willing to build it yourself

The creator of this outdoor pizza kitchen – Wayne Perrey – insists that the design is simple enough that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build it – and he has provided a worksheet and a YouTube video to guide people through the build process.

It could equally double as a cheap way to build a bar or a worktop area to combine with a barbecue for an outdoor kitchen feel. 

The creator of this outdoor pizza kitchen - Wayne Perrey - insists that the design is simple enough that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build it

The creator of this outdoor pizza kitchen – Wayne Perrey – insists that the design is simple enough that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build it

Planting areas

Greenery is also key to creating the ultimate summer garden space. Landscape architect Matt Keighley, of Rosebank Landscaping, advises focusing on this from the outset when designing a garden.

He said: ‘Once you’ve decided where you want your outdoor kitchen zone, your seating areas, your lawn and so forth, think about plants before you dash straight out to buy furniture.

‘It’s important to zone your planting areas, just as it is the other areas of your garden. Areas of dense shrubbery and mature trees are ideal for wildlife and also for promoting a sense of peace and connection with nature.’

He suggested considering the planting palette as the glue for your garden that threads all your zones together, adding depth, texture, colour and interest throughout.

The pandemic has prompted many families to try their hand at growing their own produce for the first time, according to Keighley. Zones for herb gardens and raised beds for vegetables have proved popular.

Many gardeners are also doing their bit for the bees, with bee-friendly flowers and bee hotels featuring strongly. And bee-friendly zones are well worth building into even small outdoor spaces.

Break convention by introducing multiple seating areas, using spaces to lounge, dine and generally relax in

Break convention by introducing multiple seating areas, using spaces to lounge, dine and generally relax in

Seating areas

Another important zone is a seating area. Keightley said: ‘Opting for different seating areas in sunnier and shadier parts of the garden provides plenty of versatility, so don’t limit yourself to just the one seating zone if you have the space for more. 

‘Think how the seating placement will work with your other zones, as well. If you’re skittish about insects, for example, don’t put your relaxed seating zone next to your bee-friendly flowers.’

And break convention by introducing multiple seating areas, using spaces to lounge, dine and generally relax in. 

The more positions for seating, the more you can use every inch of space and appreciate a garden. 

The more areas for seating, the more you can use every inch of space and appreciate a garden

The more areas for seating, the more you can use every inch of space and appreciate a garden

City gardens generally take advantage of part-sun, part -hade, which is something that lends itself perfectly to interesting seating locations through the day.

When it comes to furnishing your new outdoor space, Rachel Clark of Alexander James Interiors, explained: ‘Introduce a range of furniture – a lounge area with rattan sofas and tables, a dining area with rattan chairs and an opulent rattan lounge bed for those much-needed snoozes in the sun. 

‘Opt for furniture that makes you feel like you’re on that beach holiday you may have missed recently, incorporating stylish retro style loungers to relax in.’

Clark points out the value of stylish lighting, creating a garden sanctuary that maximises outdoor living.

‘Make the most of your garden lighting using lanterns, wall lights and pendant lights to create atmosphere during long summer evenings,’ she said. ‘Garden mirrors are the perfect way to add a stylish edge to your garden design and are perfect for smaller outdoor areas to create an illusion of space.’

And finally, if you have the space, she suggested adding a quirky feel by hanging hammocks and swing chairs from the trees – perfect family space for fun and relaxation.

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Homes near Elizabeth Line see asking prices double in a decade

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Asking prices for properties for sale near stations on London‘s new Elizabeth Line have more than doubled in a decade, new research has revealed.

Many areas near stations on the capital’s new high-speed line were previously less well connected to key commuter hubs, such as Liverpool Street or Paddington stations.

But they have seen a surge in property asking prices amid new interest from homebuyers and tenants due to the better transport links that the Elizabeth Line provides.

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London's Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London’s Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

The new figures from Rightmove revealed the extent to which asking prices have risen in local areas around Maryland, Abbey Wood and Stratford stations.

Maryland Station in Newham, which provides an additional option for those commuting near well-connected Stratford, has seen the biggest jump in asking prices.

They have more than doubled compared to ten years ago, rising 108 per cent from £233,480 to £486,235.

This compares to the London average increase over the past ten years of 55 per cent.

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Meanwhile, Rightmove revealed that total buyer demand has risen the most in western areas, while prices and competition has risen most in eastern areas.

Twyford, at the end of the western section of the line and the next stop along from Reading, has seen the biggest jump in the number of buyers contracting estate agents.

Numbers have more than tripled compared to 10 years ago, up 245 per cent.

Those looking to buy near Abbey Wood station, at the end of the South East section of the line, face the stiffest competition from other buyers.

Competition in that area has soared more than nine times and is up 869 per cent.

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

It is a similar story along the Elizabeth line for tenants as many look to balance their commute into London with where they can afford to rent.

Average rents in London have reached a new record of £2,195 a month, up 14 per cent compared to this time last year.

Southall has seen the biggest increase in the number of tenants contacting letting agents compared to ten years ago, more than quadrupling, up 372 per cent.

However, asking rents near Southall station are lower than nearby Hanwell or Ealing.

Asking rents have increased the most in western stations Slough, up 44 per cent, and Burnham, up 43 per cent, while those looking to rent near Custom House station face the most competition from other tenants.

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line - Custom House - has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line – Custom House – has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

Custom House, one of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line and benefitting from significantly lower travel times into Central London, has seen competition increase by a staggering 33 times, up 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘As the Elizabeth Line opens, it does so with a backdrop of record rents in London, a rising cost of living and a shortage of available homes.

‘Areas further out from central London that have lower asking prices or rents, but are now more easily commutable will be attractive to new buyers and tenants in search of somewhere affordable to live near the capital.

‘Not only this, but new working from home patterns since the pandemic started two years ago will have many people weighing up whether they are prepared to commute from further away if they need to do so less often.’

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National Maternity Hospital decision is a welcome sign of the Government’s backbone

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The Government’s decision to proceed with the building of the new National Maternity Hospital is a welcome sign that the Taoiseach and his Ministers are willing to face up to the Opposition, the social media mob and assorted objectors on an issue of major national importance.

One of the weaknesses of the Coalition since it took office in June 2020 has been a tendency to run scared in the face of contrived outrage, usually fomented by a combination of Opposition politicians and vested interests, often mistakenly portrayed as representing public opinion.

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URW rolls out Westfield brand to three new destinations

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) unveiled plans to rebrand three flagship centres, rolling out the Westfield brand to Parquesur in Madrid, Taby Centrum in Stockholm, and Galeria Mokotow in Warsaw this fall. The rebranding continues the expansion of the Westfield brand in Europe as the company drives new revenues through media advertising and brand experiences, turning its huge footfall of 550 million visits across its European assets into a qualified audience, while also leveraging the Westfield brand’s significant value to retailers, who see over 20%2 higher sales at URW’s centres even when compared to other A-category malls.

 

The flagship destinations share a number of characteristics in addition to being among the most important retail centres in their respective markets: they are set in excellent locations with unrivalled transport options, have distinctive architectural and design features and a best-in-class approach in terms of customer experience, community engagement, and sustainability practices. To celebrate the launch of the Westfield brand at these assets, each destination will host festive consumer events which will be announced later this year.

 

Caroline Puechoultres, Chief Customer Officer of URW, said: “The rebranding of these centres continues our strategy to expand Westfield to Flagship European destinations in the wealthiest cities and catchment areas. The significant opportunity afforded to both retailers and brands by this increasingly digitally linked network of destinations is unparalleled – through Westfield our partners can reach tens of millions of European consumers, driving new possibilities in advertising, brand marketing and retail.”

 

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