As the warmer weather approaches, leading housebuilder is encouraging Cheshire homeowners to open the doors on the extra room that is most often forgotten about.

'Garden' was the most-searched term amongst those looking to buy a home at the end of 2020 according to research from Zoopla, with buyers’ priorities shifting due to the pandemic.

And it’s not just the volume of outdoor space that’s appreciated by Brits, but the design and layout as well, with homeowners in the North West willing to spend up to £5,860 on transforming their garden.

With this in mind, Barratt Homes has teamed up with the British Association of Landscape Industries to put together some tips for homeowners looking to give their gardens the show home look. Get set to transform the forgotten room into a garden paradise, suitable for entertaining this summer.

1. Get into shape

When the alarm goes off and the curtains are open, the first thing we often see is the garden lawn and an aerial view of its shape and appearance. A good, strong shape can set your entire garden on the right track, and selective weeding can help improve the overall aesthetic.

Owen Baker, Technical Officer at the British Association of Landscape Industries, said: "It’s time to give your garden a spring clean, and mowing and weeding now can make all the difference in promoting healthy growth and reviving the appearance of your outdoor space whilst making it easier to keep on top of later on."

To alter the shape, homeowners also experiment with the framework, adding shrubs and herbaceous plants that bloom throughout the seasons to provide year-round interest. Whilst weeding can be controlled with preventative measures such as mulching.

Use deep organic mulches to smother weeds around plants and keep it topped to a minimum depth of two to three inches.

2. Sense and visibility

When we eat a delicious meal, we don’t just eat with our mouths, but with our eyes and noses as well. The same goes with the perfect garden; we don’t just take it in with our eyes, as an appealing smell can make all the difference when relaxing outdoors.

Achieve this with well placed, fragrant plants that can be enjoyed as soon as you open the doors. Surround the footpath or decking attached to your back door with plants such as lilac for richness, mock orange for sweetness, and sweet pea for a perfumed scent as well as a splash of colour.

Owen continued: "A phrase commonly used by landscape professionals is ‘right plant, right place’.

"Whilst gardening and choosing plants can seem complicated at first, a great tip is to consider aspects of your garden – how much sun it receives, whether it is sheltered, the amount of rain - and introduce plants which thrive in these conditions.

"Planting the right plant in the right place will help reduce planting failures.

"For inspiration, look in your local area to see what plants are thriving – either wild or in your neighbours garden."

3. Make room for more

A garden might be the forgotten room in our house, but homeowners can take the space to the next level by creating 'rooms' within their garden and prevent it from feeling two dimensional.

Structuring your garden allows you to create areas of interest, whether it be seating areas, table and chairs for outdoor dining, or the perfect spot for your barbecue.

Keep an eye on where the sun lands on your garden throughout the day to ensure your furniture is in the best position.

Seating areas and outdoor dining work best in the sun to keep your guests warm and minimise the need for heating, while a pond or water feature can benefit from a bit of sun and a bit of dappled shade for longevity.

Owen suggests: "Consider using natural features to enhance the sensation of being immersed in your garden.

"For example, leave the grass longer and mow paths, create barriers by planting hedges or use structural forms.

"The scale need not be large to be effective; a small area of native wildflowers can be striking whilst native hedge species can be trimmed to maintain height and shape."

Knutsford Guardian: A typical Barratt Homes garden

A typical Barratt Homes garden

Michaela Lancaster, Sales Director at Barratt Homes Manchester, said: "The idea of gardening can seem like a bit of a chore, especially if you’re a busy family short on time.

"With our useful guide and expertise from the leading Trade Association for UK landscape professionals however, homeowners with no time to spare will find it easier than ever to make a start and a little bit of time now will ensure you reap the rewards later in the year.

"And for those who want a helping hand in creating their ideal outdoor space, consider using a BALI member for assistance in design, construction or supply of planting materials."