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Create warm zones in your garden and on your terrace – 11 tips!

Would you like a new garden but are unsure what is meant by 'zones'? Here is our ultimate guide to garden zones – with tips on what to fill your garden with.

Lots of people are talking about zones in garden design, but what are they actually? Synne Lindgren Helle has a lot of experience in this area. She’s a designer who in recent years has undertaken an extensive terrace project in her own garden. See how Synne built a spactacular three-dimensional terrace!

Synne’s own zone project! The pavilion, which is under construction, will contain a whole treasure chest of zones for recreation and the good life. Light Oppdal quartzite wallbricks.

Even though the idea of creating zones may seem a little strange, maybe even confusing, it’s quite probably something you are, even just subconsciously, quite aware of. At any rate, that’s how it was for Synne Lindgren Helle.

– The first time I heard about ‘zones’ in connection with gardens, was when I was studying interior design. I realised that I’d always thought in terms of zones, but just never had a word for it, or an aspect of design that supported it, she explains.

So how would you explain what a zone in the garden is?

– I would describe it as part of your garden that has a specific function. It’s easier to understand if you think of it in the context of a house or flat, in which you also have different rooms or areas. One room where you sleep, possibly one where you work and an area where you cook. You can basically apply the same principle to your garden.

– Create something for yourself

When asked to identify some standard zones, she hesitates. A zone can be pretty much anything. It’s easier to expand the idea a little.

– The first thing you have to do is identify and prioritise what you want and need in your garden more specifically. A dining area is, for example, something most people want in their gardens. The same goes for a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen or maybe even an outdoor shower, she explains.

There are many possibilities and it’s a good thing to realise that you probably don’t have room for everything.

– My best tip is not to focus on how you imagine it ‘has‘ to be. Instead, be creative and think about how you want it to be. You have to create something for yourself.

A wooden sofa swing that hangs on a terrace covered with flagstones of Oppdal slate.
Synne’s pergola with a self-produced sofa swing. The surrounding area is covered with Oppdal flagstones laid in sand.

Synne’s 11 tips for zones that meet different needs:

1. Barbecue

Possibly the easiest way to prepare food outdoors.

But does that mean the barbecue doesn’t deserve its own zone? No, quite the contrary in fact.

By giving the barbecue a specially designed space, equipped with a table or bench for food and equipment, there will be no doubt about who is the home’s – and perhaps even the street’s – master barbecue chef.

2. Outdoor kitchen

Perfect for people who love to cook outdoors, regardless of the season or the weather.

What you want to put in your outdoor kitchen is entirely up to you. You can splash out and build a kitchen with a roof, running water and integrated barbecue – or make it as simple as possible with a few chopping boards and cutlery.

A modern terrace with crazy paving of Oppdal quartzite slate and a white outdoor kitchen.
The modern outdoor kitchen of @camillaabry with generous slabs of Oppdal quartzite slate. Photo: Yvonne Wilhelmsen
A stainless steel grill and outdoor kitchen integrated in a beautiful dry wall of Offerdal slate.
Barbecue and outdoor kitchen integrated in a beautiful wall of Offerdal slate.

3. Fire pit

What could be cosier than a late summer evening with sparks rising from a fire pit? It’s a perfect place around which to build a zone. A few good chairs, maybe a sheepskin rug or two, and the evening will quickly become even cosier.

4. A stone oven

If you really want to impress, an outdoor stone oven is a good place to start – or finish. A stone oven can give far more heat than a barbecue, which means you can serve real stone-baked pizza in your own garden. Great tips for you who want to build your own pizza or baking oven in the garden!

A terrace with a pizza oven integrated in a drywall of Oppdal slate brick.
Bakery oven recessed into a wall of Oppdal quartzite bricks.
A patio covered with slate from Oppdal with a sitting area, outside fireplace and with a view of the sea.
The nice patio of @jannevedvannet with Oppdal quartzite flagstones that can easily withstand sea spray and rough weather.

5. Dining area

Whether you plan to invite five or fifty people to dinner in your garden, you should plan to fit everyone in. How you design your space is up to you, but remember that there should be enough room for all of your guests to feel comfortable, while also maintaining the warm and intimate atmosphere of a pleasant dinner party.

6. Pergola

One trick many experts still recommend is to build a pergola. This will naturally reinforce the sensation of being in a room in your dining area, outdoor kitchen, or whatever you choose to build it round. A pergola can also be built with a roof, which means you can also use it when it rains.

A terrace with a pergola covered with crazy paving in Oppdal slate.
Synne’s own pergola.
A set dining table of dark wood on a large terrace with flagstones in Oppdal slate.
Large terrace of Oppdal crazy paving with a spacious table setting for lovely summer days.

7. Sunbathing

Before you put your spade in the earth you should have planned your garden – and worked out which areas get the most sun. That’s where the sunbed will be – with you on it. After you have made a refreshing summer cocktail and found a good book, of course.

8. Pool or jacuzzi

If you have the space for it, a swimming pool in your garden can give a real sense of luxury. If you don’t have room for this, a fountain can be a good alternative. In both instances, you’ll be able to offer your guests a garden experience with a bit extra. Not bad, eh?

Did you know that slate tiles make a great surface around the pool area? The stone is naturally non-slip and also doesn’t require much maintenance.

9. Outdoor shower

An outdoor shower works just as well whether you live in the country with nature as your nearest neighbour, or you have an urban garden. It’s a great way to cool down, even if you don’t have room for or need a swimming pool.

A patio with pool and outdoor shower. The terrace is covered with slate outdoor tiles from Offerdal.
All in one – both pool and outdoor shower! Outdoor tiles of Offerdal slate make the area both non-slip and deliciously warm to walk on barefoot. Garden design: Bengtsson Design

10. Sensual zones

Is there somewhere in your garden that you find especially peaceful? Perhaps a ridge from which you have a view? Or a bench under a large tree? Synne Lindgren Helle calls these ‘sensual zones’ that only have one purpose – to make you feel good.

11. Flowerbeds and greenhouses

For many, the joy of a garden lies in growing and looking after flowers and plants. If you’re one of them, plan some green zones. Whether you just want rose bushes or to grow your own Brussels sprouts, this is something you need to plan – and make part of your new garden. Five steps to create your own slate flowerbed!

Remember that some plants need more sun than others, so already in the planning phase, it’s a good idea to identify areas where you want to plant the various flowers. See our ultimate guide on how to plan your garden.

Don’t forget transitions and lighting

Almost as important as the zones themselves are the transitions between them. Synne Lindgren Helle emphasises that the transitions must bind the garden together, while not revealing everything. There needs to be an element of surprise as we stroll around the garden.

Steps, paths and gates are simple and effective ways to create transitions.

Two large Rhododendrons with lanterns. The surrounding area is covered with gray flagstones laid in gravel.
Synne’s lighting of her magical zone under the rhododendron bushes.

Think about lighting too, to make the garden magical after dark. By illuminating details – flowers in the flowerbeds, trees, the lovely slate wall along the path – you can highlight the elements that deserve to be seen, while the lighting is pleasant for everyone in the garden.

But remember that lighting requires electricity and electricity requires cables. So you must decide what is to be lit up at an early stage of the planning process.

Good luck with your new garden!

Products used in these projects: crazy paving, outdoor tiles, and wallbricks.

Light Oppdal quartzite crazy paving.

Create something for yourself

– My best tip is not to focus on how you imagine it ‘has’ to be. Instead, be creative and think about how you want it to be. You have to create something for yourself.

Synne Lindgren Helle

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