Give Your Outdoor Space Some Love
By Shabna Cader
Whether you live in the heart of the city like I do, or have ample space for some green loving, mid-year is roughly about the best time to spruce things up and give your outdoor space some love.
In the recent months, I’ve come to spend more time outdoors and when I say outdoors, let me clarify by saying my home does not have a proper garden - what it does have is a small plot of space, with stone slabs instead of grass, four areas where deep rooted trees grow and three dozen or so pots with multiple plants in each of them.
Here’s the thing though; we make the most of what we have. The grass never grew properly in all the years we tried to maintain it, so ultimately it was all take off, and then the thick square stone slabs were laid. Four larger plots where older and deep rooted trees like our karapincha tree still have got their own space to grow. Although this does leave a lot of room for growing more plants, my mum has ensured to have plenty, growing in multiple pots all over the little space.
While it’s advisable to not grow more than one plant in one pot, nature seems to have a mind of its own and nearly all the pots have more than two or three plants growing in them. This isn’t something we’ve done deliberately. However, if and whenever we do run out of new pots, we have taken the offbeat chance of planting new saplings in already inhabited pots. For the most part, all plants are healthy and doing absolutely okay.
Our karapincha tree is the oldest in the space, and we’ve also got an ambarella tree, a kohomba tree, a papaw tree, and two varieties of jasmine.
Now, the idea of having so many pots about a small space might seem a bit claustrophobic, but in the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken it upon myself to bring a bit of order and design. Some of you may not like the idea of aligning pots extremely close to a wall, but I like keeping a gap of about five centimetres and lining a few close to each other. I’ve chosen to do this with pots that have plants that lean towards an elongated stance, and have lots of leaves, or even look like a big bush. This adds a lot of colour to a basic coloured wall and corner space.
Whilst in some areas I’ve chosen to clutter a few shorter and smaller plants, in other areas I’ve chosen to give the larger plants a lot of space. The idea was to create a mini jungle oasis (in my head at least it looked like it) and execute it with what little I had to work with. Above, although most of the larger trees provide a good deal of shade, we’ve also laid over a large and previously used window grill that extends from the outer wall of the house to the balcony. Doing this has allowed for creeper and ivys and other vine like plants to grow over, creating a green canopy over the little outdoor space.
When my nextdoor neighbour had their ginormous mango tree cut down (gutted about this sad tragedy!), I went over and asked the lumberjack to save some of the large trunks and also some of the smaller branches. I’ve now used them around the outdoor space, including some of the corners, to have pots and plants prop up against them. This adds a very earthy and greener feel. The larger trunks have also been used in their upright position, with some smaller pots laid top.
Another idea you could give a go is using similar old trunks and branches is to hollow out some of the centres and create space for newer plants, and even succulent terrariums. I do also like the idea of hanging these up with some wire and strong rope.
There isn’t a great deal of sitting space. Okay, in actuality there is no sitting space, but I recently moved a cane chair over to the corner of the outdoor space and added a cushion to give it a cozy feel. Your outdoor space should give you comfort and you should spent time being outside, and create room for being able to lounge and sit too. If you’ve got the space for it, add a couple of chairs in an orderly manner, without disturbing or damaging the plants and trees and decorate the space with some colourful and homey throw pillows.
Last week, I also purchased a handwoven linen hammock that I have now hung from a rope and hooks through the balcony railing over to the side of our outdoor space. This has been my newest and cosiest spot - and I think adding things you love, in pops of colours against the lush green adds character and creates a space that is vibrant and inviting.
Twinkle lights or string lights are a great way of kicking up the ambience towards the latter part of the day. I’ve got a few but unfortunately, they need to be plugged in for use. If you’ve got yourself ones that are battery operated and do well even in the rain, then use them around the garden, balcony railing, or even around some larger tree trunks.
The idea is to create a space that you want to keep going back to, and where you can comfortably relax and unwind. I find myself going outdoors more than I ever used to, because I love sitting on the cane chair with a cup of tea and a book, and the same with the addition of the hammock, which I have also accidentally napped upon. If you show your garden some love, it will in turn give you some comfort. I’ve also begun to notice nearly all of the plants growing new leaves and looking a lot healthier in the past few weeks and this I believe is because of me spending more time being outdoors and caring for each of the plants.
It’s not rocket science. Most plants in our tropical island will survive with water, if nothing else. Growing some herbs is not a bad idea at this point either. Cilantro, basil and aloe are not that hard to grow. Water-based plants like aloe don’t even necessarily need a lot of watering. If you believe yourself to not have a green thumb, get yourself some pretty succulents and cacti. These hardly ever need water and much care and do great in tropical outdoor weather like ours.
I hope the little tips help you create an outdoor space that you’ll come to love.