Outdoor living - simple tips to maximise your outdoor space

Imagine your garden was a room in your house; how would you plan it? We look at some of the best ways to maximise your outdoor space ahead of the summer

As we head full throttle into summer season and plan to spend more time outdoors than inside, it's the perfect time to start thinking about how to maximise your outdoor space.

Daibhí Mac Domhnaill is the Head of Landscape and Urban Design at Cairn, who are known for creating beautiful spaces indoors and outdoors in some of Dublin's most beautiful areas. One of their latest developments, the View at Glenheron in Greystones, illustrates the effect a well-thought-out garden space can have on a new home. When it comes to decorating your garden space, Daibhí is an expert, and we wanted to find out his top tips to maximise space, colour, foliage and everything in between. We asked him all your burning questions about landscaping, and he told us where we should be focusing.

Planning your garden


Imagine your garden was a room in your house; how would you plan it? You would ideally build in flexibility and comfort, and design it to suit your lifestyle and timetable. Strive for the easiest flow from indoor to outdoor space. Think about the sightlines from your sofa, your favourite armchair, kitchen worktop; what can you see, how can you maximise visual interest from the indoors.


Structure and foliage

The striking flowering plants that catch your eye in the garden centre will wow for the couple weeks (or months) that they are in full bloom. But one needs to think carefully think about looking out over the winter months - what will still look beautiful? Every space, no matter the shape or size, will benefit from a strong structure of evergreen plants that provide more muted but essential relief during the shorter days. If the garden has a good year-round structure, then the rest can be more free-form and chaotic. Never take gardening too seriously or be afraid to make mistakes; the best gardeners never are!



Climbing plants

In small spaces, there often won’t be space for boundary hedging or deep shrubs borders. This will be where climbing plants come into their own. Invest in good quality marine cables that can span the length of the garden or, if using trellising, consider staining a dark grey or black; it is a great way to set off the foliage. Trachelospermum jasminoides is a strong performer where space is limited and is one of the few evergreen climbers.





Looking good in the rain.

Despite the good weather last summer, we will inevitably spend a few wet Sundays looking out at the drizzle over the next few months. This is when the larger plants with glossy leaves and more vibrant green colours come into their own; larger leaved ferns such as Asplenium, the striking heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade’ and the dramatic fatsia. The real test of quality paving is how it looks in wet weather and this is where investment in limestone or granite slabs or a high-quality, smooth, reconstituted stone paver really pays off. The wet surface heightens the contrast in tones in these natural materials.



Eat what you grow

Even if all you have is a neat city centre balcony, there is space in every outdoor area to mix in herbs, soft fruit and vegetables. Nothing brings a garden alive more than snipping fresh sage or chives for the dinner.


Synthetic lawns

I felt weird the first time I suggested a synthetic lawn to a client, but it made sense as they had a very tight garden and energetic kids to entertain. It proved a great investment; in particular, how within a few short minutes of a rain shower, the lawn was dry and fit for the kids the to play on. I’d go as far as to say that, for the more compact family garden, it is a no-brainer; it also saves on the investment in a lawnmower and the many hours of noisy grass cutting for years to come. We have laid synthetic lawn in Elsmore Show House and in Marianella Block with Cairn, and it has worked beautifully.


No matter what stage you're at, Cairn pride themselves on building your future. A Cairn home is a guarantee of quality, created by the best architects, designers, builders and craftspeople. Visit cairnhomes.com to find out more about their current and upcoming developments.

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