By Fareeha Qayoom
Some spaces cry out to be creatively utilized. Terraces are one of them. Backyards are another. DHA by-laws require all residential developments to be terraced for example, however, not everyone thinks of setting up a roof garden on their terrace (or starting a patio in their back yard). Both options are doable and don’t break the bank, besides, it’s a major waste of space not utilizing this area when it’s already there. In our hot climate and era of frequent load shedding – you need some place quiet, green and fresh to wait out the power outages, especially if you don’t have a huge lawn out at front to begin with. Don’t just invest in a power generator, invest in your terrace or backyard too if you are lucky enough to have it – it’s more creative use of your money and environmentally a more ‘green’ solution. Don’t forget this space can double up as an additional entertainment area. Starting a garden on your terrace or back yard takes patience, determination and careful planning. Look for the following qualities when setting up your roof garden – the 4-Fs – function, furnishings, flooring and flexibility. For a patio, you will need to create a floor but not for the terrace, it’s already there. You need a canopy or some kind of awning to cover your terrace or patio, out-door furniture, lots of pot and garden art options and of course a variety of plants. You can even start a unique Bonsai Tree collection but that’s another story.
Maintenance and upkeep are two important considerations when choosing a patio cover. For example, natural wood patio covers, while gorgeous to look at, will generally require more upkeep than aluminum, acrylic, fiberglass and fabric covered patios. For a more airy, lighter feeling, a latticed fabric covered patio maybe the answer. These latticework patio covers (open framework which consists of crisscrossed strips of wood, bamboo or metal) can allow natural sunlight to shine through. There are many different designs available, so it should be possible to find a design to match virtually any home and budget.
You will be spoilt for choice as there is a huge selection of garden furniture available in the market now. You can choose products made of various types of wood, marble, wrought iron, aluminum, wicker (imported), rattan (imported), cane, and synthetic finishes like plastic, fiber glass, resin, vinyl or even a combination of different materials. Don’t limit yourself by thinking ‘table and chairs’ – you can buy: parasols, benches, hammocks, swinging chairs, chaise lounges and pool side furniture. Always buy out of season and try to aim for a good combination of furniture to suit all your outdoor seating and entertainment needs. Go for the most comfortable and expensive set that you can afford since you are buying it for a longer term.
Remember the importance of plants in the patio or roof garden landscape. Consider adding on more details that can enhance your garden for example, a set of wind chimes; a portable planter or planter box filled with flowers; colorful hanging baskets filled with your favorite flowers would all look equally good and add a vibrant touch to any corner of your space. Evergreen plants like Ferns, Money plants, Bougainvillea, and Palms would look good and light up any space all year around, be that the patio or your roof garden. You can also pot trees for this space. Don’t forget art and garden sculptures and the importance of elegant and funky planters while you are at it.
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 2, June 2008.