With summer well and truly here, that means our outdoor spaces are set to get a workout. Think goldenhour sundowners, long lunches and reading a great book before having a cheeky nap in the afternoon sun (under an umbrella, of course). But if you’re looking at your outdoor area and thinking it could do with a little spruce ahead of the warmer months, we’ve got you covered. We speak to garden guru, Matt Leacy, as he talks us through the key outdoor trends to expect this summer, and his best backyard tips and tricks. Looking for more home design inspiration? For styling tips, interior design trends and roundups of the hottest new furniture on the market, visit A Touch of the Med A popular theme that will be dominating outdoor spaces and gardens this season will be a subtle Mediterranean influence, Matt says. To embrace a touch of the Med, while maintaining a timeless aesthetic, Matt recommends updating your outdoor area with a fresh, neutral colour palette, balanced out with splashes of colours like greens and blue hues. “It’s a Mediterranean vibe – but not overdone or as a full theme. These neutral colours will be teamed with natural materials such as timber and stone,” he explains. In terms of plants, Matt says opting for olive trees and succulents is another simple but effective way to bring the Med to your garden. “The planting palette has a big impact too. Think rosemary, bougainvillea, mounded shapes with some more architectural succulents,” he adds. Take the Plunge Matt also points out the rise in popularity of plunge pools, with many homeowners preferring how much more low maintenance they are for busy families with minimal backyard space. “Because they’re a much smaller size there’s also the option to tile them in beautiful tile choices that may be cost-prohibitive for a larger pool. And with jet technology, there’s still the ability to swim ‘laps’ in a plunge pool or turn it into a large ice bath,” he says of its versatility. Alternatively, you can opt for a built-in ice bath, which is also on the rise. “Built-in ice baths, or a space to accommodate an ice bath are also popular as more people lean into the health benefits of them. As are saunas – we’ve created some amazing bespoke glass saunas in a couple of our projects recently,” he says. Size Doesn’t Always Matter Of course, not all of us have sprawling backyards. If you have a smaller backyard or courtyard, Matt has a few tricks up his sleeve for maximising small spaces. “Playing with scale and size is important. Big things in small spaces can create the illusion that the space is bigger, as well as bring a sense of drama to the space. Light colours will also help give the illusion that spaces are bigger than they are,” the landscaping pro reveals. As for greenery in compact areas, Matt says: “If you’d like an edible garden but have very limited space, look at ways to include the edible element in your overall garden design and plantings. Herbs such as rosemary make great trimmed mounded forms if you hedge them to shape.” Eco-Friendly Choices Environmentally friendly outdoor spaces are also becoming increasingly popular with Matt noting rooftop gardens are a great way to create additional green space. “Rooftop gardens will provide natural insulation as well as improve water holding capabilities and they look beautiful,” he says. “On a simpler level, and something that the average gardener can implement, is creating a rain garden either in garden beds or in an elevated planter. And choosing water-wise, drought-resistant plants is also important for a sustainable outdoor space – especially as we’re about to go into a hot, dry summer,” he adds. Be Strategic Finally, Matt recommends being strategic about what kind of big-ticket items you invest in. “If you like to go all out and create amazing dining occasions, a large table and comfortable seating will be your go-to. Or if your style is more cocktail entertaining, you might go for more lounge and coffee table seating, perhaps some bar stools and a bench,” Matt explains. Image Credits: Landart Matt Leacy Photography: Jason Busch SITCHU MAGAZINE 09