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A GARDEN serves to provide beauty and pleasure to the house owner. When your house and those around make up one big concrete jungle, gardens are like little burst of flowers that bloom amidst the thorns.

Designing your garden is not like designing a spaceship to Mars, although you shouldn't take it too lightly either. Your garden could be a little bit of all your rooms – a space where you cook (BBQ), sleep, dine, entertain, or just relax.

Start off with an objective and choose a style. What is your objective? To create a cosy private sanctuary for you and the spouse? To entertain guests? For your kids to run about? Once you have decided, plan the layout, starting with the focal point.

An outdoor room basically consists of a focal point (usually a pond or water feature), seating areas, and lots of green. If space permits, you can include a dining area, hammock or even an outdoor Jacuzzi housed within a gazebo. You can incorporate timber decks, pergolas, arches, swings, birdhouses and so much more. But what you include and how you lay them out depends on your objective and the immediate environment.

However, a lot of people plan their gardens backwards. They start off with all the wrong priorities. Professional designers plan first, decide the style and material, and then go shopping for the right components.

What most people do, however, is go shopping first and buy what they like, and then try to make their garden accommodate their new furniture. And then they wonder why their garden can't look like those that are professionally designed. This hit-and-miss approach contributes to a lot of disappointment and wasted money.

So, always keep strictly to your objectives. Visualize first the final design, and then start planning. If you want a secluded and romantic area, then design a space with a small water feature and plenty of big plants or lattices to provide a sense of privacy.

See how the sunlight falls in your garden and optimize light and shadows. When is the best time for you to enjoy your garden and what are the conditions at that time? .

Likewise, doing up a garden to entertain guests require plenty of seating areas and a more central focal point. Try to choose furniture that blends in with your garden as well as being weather- resistant, instead of chairs that you keep indoors and only take out when you expect guests.

Seeking help and budgeting

A person remembers a time when his kitchen came with just a sink. His father built a wooden cupboard to store their cutlery and the family got a dining table for RM 15. These days, you would not spend less than RM 15,000 to renovate your kitchen with cabinets, nice flooring, all the gizmos and stuff.

What about your living room? How much would you spend on the flooring? The

furniture? The electrical appliances? The lighting? You must have some idea. When it comes to budgeting for your garden, there isn't a ready benchmark so it's difficult to justify what is expensive or what is cheap.

Sure, for a typical terrace house garden, you can get away with about RM 1,000 just to lay out topsoil, plant grass, and put in some plants.

If you spend wisely, your garden is an additional room to your house. If you just allocate enough for grass, then that's all you'll get.

As mentioned earlier, your outdoor room is not about the furniture or water feature. It is about total planning. Remember also that your garden is alive, literally and plan it so that it can grow and age gracefully. There is no hard-and-fast rule on how much to spend so just apply common sense. Whatever budget you allocate, there will be someone willing to do it, no doubt. But be warned: as in any industry, there is a reason why things are cheap.

Over here at Terra Garden, with over 20 years of experience and around five thousand clients around Klang Valley. We have gathered our knowledge to carefully plan outdoor room efficiently. After all you can say, a good designer doesn't just produce a good design after 1 - 2 day of working hours. It took years of experience for the designer to provide you with the best solution that can be offered.

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