With the whole country in lockdown and we’re made to spend significantly more time in our homes many are turning their attention to making long overdue home improvements. While decorating and general DIY are popular, it would appear that gardens are being given some well overdue attention.

While we’ve always had the freedom to explore what our wonderful county of Yorkshire has to offer, gardens have often been seen as functional spaces, somewhere to let the kids kick a ball about or let the dog get some fresh air. Even as a nation of BBQ loving brits, we probably only really appreciate our garden spaces when the weather is good and we want to get some burgers on the grill.

Over the past few months, we have been given the opportunity to really think about what we want from our outdoor space to make it functional all year round, and we’ve already seen people sprucing up their spaces on twitter with garden fences being painted, space dug up to make way for a vegetable garden and even larger scale plans such as the addition of garden rooms - no doubt as a space to work from home, or simply escape to.

Health benefits of gardening

Gardening, in particular, is an ideal way to get some exercise, top-up Vitamin D levels and boost our wellbeing and immune system, and with spring upon us, there is no better time to get some fresh air and get planting.

Research suggests that we don't need to be tending to an acre of perfectly manicured gardens to garner the mental health benefits says Lee Chambers MBPsS, a Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 10 minutes of gardening per day confer mental health gains greater than tidying your house, and you get a more significant sense of achievement when you create a garden. With this revelation, it's time to get innovative with your space and see what you can create!

Gardening is proven to be a reliever of stress. It removes us from our increasingly technology-dominated lives and places us in a setting to create a natural environment, inducing relaxation and lowering blood pressure. It also grounds us as humans and helps us to reconnect with nature, and this is especially true if we grow something to consume, like a micro-farm or herb garden. Having a water feature also helps us feel closer to water, which we have a natural affinity for and adds to our sensory experience.

While gardening, we are increasingly mindful of the task at hand, being intentional with our actions as we create and maintain a space. This allows us to slow down, enjoy the beauty of our senses being engaged, as we dig, prune or weed, and let go of our worries.

There is a lot of pride and a real feeling of satisfaction as we choose what to put in our garden, nurture it and watch it bloom. Gardening is so powerful it can increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, giving you a valuable mood boost.

In addition to this, it gets us outside and active, keeping us physically fit and our blood flowing. We can burn a considerable amount of calories just tending a small garden patch, without feeling like its exercise. And being out in the natural light help boost how we feel, and helps us sleep better at night. Even getting our hands dirty is beneficial; the feeling of accomplishment is visible on your own anatomy.

What do buyers look for in a garden?

While the preferred garden orientation is south-facing (meaning you get the sun throughout the majority of the day), a well cared for mix of lawn, hard area (decking or patio) and foliage are what most buyers look for according to property firm, Bramleys, residential partner, Paul Keighley.

It’s likely that we’ll see properties which have garden rooms and well-segmented space fair well moving forward as families, in particular, consider how lives are increasingly led at home for the considerable future.

For those with smaller outdoor space, whether it be a small yard, or balcony there are still a variety of ways you can bring these areas to life and bring the outdoors in. Potted plants and window boxes can help to create a sense of calm, and if you are looking at putting your property on the market, this will certainly appeal to buyers who may be comparing your property to similar ones.

Astroturf or Au Natural

While astroturf can be beneficial for those with reduced mobility, or in smaller spaces to add some greenery, there is something to be said for the feel of natural grass beneath your feet. Astroturf can fade pretty quickly and look tatty that when it comes to selling your property can impact negatively on valuation, so take this into consideration before you dig up your grass.

Garden trends

According to landscape products firm Marshalls, neutral coloured paving, in particular, ones that help to create a neutral transition from indoor to outdoor continue to be the most popular choice. As more homes opt for bi-fold doors into their gardens, having outdoor paving which matches your indoor flooring can result in the feel of a much bigger space.

However, for the more daring, contrasting garden designs are expected to be big in 2020, as adventurous homeowners look to delineate the separate use of spaces. Built-in seating and outdoor kitchens also topped one of their recent social media polls for garden wish lists.

The future

While it remains to be seen how house prices might be affected by COVID19, there can be no harm in taking advantage of the opportunity to spruce up the space you have while in lockdown. The positive impact on mental wellbeing, exercise and potential longer-term gains will result in time well spent.

Picture credit: Marshalls