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Chill out zones

Great outdoor areas can add tens of thousands to the value of your home, not to mention the added enjoyment of spending time in the garden with family and friends.

Landscaping is also one of the few home improvements that can actually increase in value over time as plantings mature.

So, shake off the winter chill by tackling a project that will make your yard a go-to space for spring.

Fire up

Fire pits create a cosy spot to socialise outdoors in cooler months, bringing a camping vibe to the inner city. But you will need to check your local council regulations carefully.

Sales of portable pits have surged in the past two years as people spend more time at home and authorities loosen restrictions.

When planning a fire pit area, ensure it meets regulations in terms of how close it is to any structures, and consider how smoke may affect neighbours. Screening plants can help with this. Concrete, pavers or gravel are great for creating a level, non-flammable base.

Think about how you can build in seating and add plants with an eye to how the area could also be used in summer. Outdoor mirrors on any adjacent walls or fences can bounce light at night and make the space appear bigger during the day.

Create a secluded haven

Paving a small patio is an achievable DIY task for almost any homeowner. Choose a sunny spot where you can imagine enjoying a morning coffee and make yourself a little oasis. It doesn’t need to be huge, just enough space for a couple of chairs and a side table. Use screening plants to create the sense of a hidden sanctuary. Choosing an area that gets plenty of sun will also lend itself to some colourful spring plantings.

Veg out

Starting a backyard vegetable patch began as a lockdown hobby but has turned into a smart budgeting option recently. The maths is simple: one iceberg lettuce for $12.99; or 150 iceberg lettuce seeds for $1.99.

Okay, so you may have to wait a few months before your harvest is ready, but there’s no time like the present to get a productive garden going.

If your soil is not ideal, raised garden beds are simple to build, or cheap to buy, and can fit in the smallest of spaces, even alongside a driveway.

Now is a good time to get salad greens, potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cabbages in the ground. Another popular addition is citrus trees.

Go luxe on seating

Most of us like the idea of lounging around on the veranda or patio, but we don’t actually do it that often. Why? Because the sofa inside is a whole lot more comfortable than the one outside.
Durability doesn’t have to come at the expense of comfort anymore. Some modern outdoor sofas are hard to tell apart from indoor sectionals. Think of your patio as an extra room, but without the building costs. Instead, tip that money in to furnishing it well and it will pay off in the sense of space and the time you spend there.

Banish the gloom

Adding some lighting bling to your garden doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult. Solar lights have come a long way in terms of power and style, with everything from flickering tiki torches to 200-lumen spotlights ready to go from box to garden. Waterproof LED string lights are the perfect way to add a touch of contemporary magic to verandas and patios without the need for an electrical connection. Solar spotlights are an easy way to accent trees or statues. Driveway and path lights are functional and will add some quick street appeal in the evening.

Climb the walls

The green wall is a trend that’s here to stay. DIY pocket systems can be easily installed in a weekend, but the choice of plants is everything. Look online for guides that will help you select a mix of plants based on what sort of overall look you’re going for and whether the foliage will grow out, up or hang down. Throwing in a few herbs makes your wall useful as well as attractive.


Need inspiration for a project? There are a range of DIY landscaping apps that can help you perfect a digital plan.


One for the vegie patch enthusiasts, Planter allows users to map out gardens taking companion and combative plantings into account. The app includes information about how, when and where to plant and how to maintain and harvest.


Available through the US Better Homes & Gardens site, this tool also allows DIY homeowners to upload photos and play around with different plantings and textures such as decking vs pavers.

My Garden by Gardena

A pretty simple 2D planning tool from the German hose company – so expect more than a few tools for including irrigation lines. But if you have a uniform block to fill, it can help nut out a layout.


Create your own before and after shots without turning a sod. iScape allows users to photograph their outdoor space, then transform it on screen, adding plants and design features. As the name indicates, this highly-rated visualisation app is only compatible with Apple devices. It’s designed to be simple to use and is aimed at homeowners, with a higher-spec version for professionals.

Any advice contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters. Information in this article is correct as of the date of publication and is subject to change.