Define ‘zones’ in your garden, using plants, different landscaping materials and fencing to create areas for lounging, cooking, eating or whatever else you require from your outdoor space.

  • Choose different hard landscaping and floor surfaces to differentiate between the dining, lounging and play areas. Obvious options include a stone material for the dining space, decking for the lounging area, and bark or grass for the play area.
  • Use different colours on fencing or walls to create separate zones. White is a good backdrop for lounging areas that you want to feel bright and sunny, deep greens are good for making play areas blend into the background, while deep shades, such as blue or aubergine, make dining areas feel atmospheric during long summer evenings.
  • Plants can help define zones too, especially if you go for a strong colour theme by area. So, if your lounging space has a white wall behind it and light-coloured decking, choose white fl owers. If your dining space has dark-coloured decking and aubergine walls, go for deep purple plants.
  • Architectural planting can be used to divide up zones. A line of shapely box plants, set into a low wall, takes up very little space but creates a strong visual divide between the lounging and dining areas. Or, group tall, tropical-looking plants at the far end of a dining space to disguise a play area beyond. Consider growing a vertical garden: Garden Beet sells modular planters that allow you to create a ‘living’ wall.
  • Don’t neglect vertical space: screens, arbours, pergolas and trellis all provide privacy and somewhere to train flowering climbers for visual interest. Paint them to match your scheme; or, if you want your planting to do the talking, choose a neutral, natural paint shade for them, such as olive green or pale grey.

What are the rules?

Building regulations: Any wiring or permanent gas supply that you have installed in your garden should conform to building regulations and be signed off by a qualified person (find one at, or contact your local building control officer.

Planning permission: Creating a deck or patio is permitted development and does not need planning permission, provided that the decking is no more than 30cm above the ground and, together with other extensions, it covers no more than 50 per cent of the garden.

In the gallery: (1) Easiwall living wall vertical planters can be used to disguise a plain wall, add greenery to a basement area or grow vegetables. (H)100x(W)100x (D)15cm, from £169.99, Garden Beet; (2) Tall screens are perfect for creating privacy in a garden, but they can also be used to divide up the space without creating solid barriers. Painted trellis panels are ideal for separating a lounging space from a play area. Woodbury fence panel and trellis, (H)104x(W)180cm, from £42.98, B&Q.

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing.