The living area is the space most often utilised within the garden design plan. The elements in this area can be determined by what you want to use the space for.  This area needs to be organised logically in order to avoid wasting precious space.

Structural features in the living space include can include a patio, deck, terrace, water feature and planting areas.  It is worth taking some time over this exercise and really organising your thoughts on paper before starting.

A photograph showing a garden living area with a table, chairs, shelving and a chimenea

You can also make some rough cardboard models of the various elements that you want to use & move them about until you and your family are happy that you have achieved the arrangement that suits you.  Do however be beware of the pitfalls associated with “design by committee”.  One person must make the decisions based on what she or he is learning; it cannot be entirely a group effort.

Tip:  A patio or terrace which is used to extend the associated indoor living space should be at least 4m by 5m & should generally be no smaller than 3m x 3m.

Spaces can overlap and be used for different functions at different times during the day.  For example an open play area for children can double in the evening as a barbecue and eating space for adults.

Private areas are usually integral to the living space in the garden.  They can meet any number of needs including reading, meditation, or entertaining a small group of people.  The private area can be located near the building or somewhere that has shade or solar access depending on your needs.  

Water, especially moving water, can create a sense of security and relaxation in the private garden area.  Fences, walls or planting can provide privacy, block views and provide shelter.  Be careful here to ensure that any private spaces continue to be seen and experienced as a unified part of the entire garden space, and that they don’t become separate visual entities.

Be aware when designing the living area to consider solar access.  Depending on your climatic zone you may need to provide plenty of shade in order to enjoy your garden.  On the other hand, in temperate zones you may want to capture every available hour of sunshine.