The Insider: Turn your garden into an extra room

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The Independent Online

I'm quite new to gardens and still struggle with keeping lots of things alive at once – or even remembering to plant them at all. But as I learn about topsoil, bare roots and pruning, there are other ways to make more of the backyard...

Cut a rug

"A patchwork of small rugs will transform the space into a Moroccan courtyard," says Christina Strutt of Cabbages & Roses. And a jug of cut flowers on a table "adds an extra dimension of homeliness".

On reflection

"Mirrors create the impression of space and bounce light into shady areas," says Architect Your Home's Hugo Tugman. "The trick? Conceal edges to maximise the optical illusion."

Do the hula

"Cushions need bringing inside overnight so choose indoor, rather than garden-centre versions – in fabrics you actually like," says The Independent's Victoria Summerley, who also writes the garden blog, Victoria's Backyard. Her favourites? "In a tropical-themed garden, someone used charity-shop Hawaiian shirts to make covers. Lovely."

Lamp 'em

Create sitting-room vibes with outdoor versions of indoor lights, Tugman says. (Try Ikea's new Solvinden solar-powered pendant or table lamps.)

A room of one's own

Copy the owners of Pedlars, whose garden "guest-rooms" are a tipi (£700-plus at wolfglen tipis.co.uk), and an old Airstream caravan – which could double as a den.

Hit the roof

"Overhanging roofs blur the inside/outside division," says design yourhouse.co.uk's Krys Brooks. "Add downlights to the underside of the roof."

Big is beautiful

"Large, statement house plants are fashionable – and easier to manage than lots of little ones," adds Summerley, "so do the same outside." My kind of gardening.

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at yourhomeislovely.com

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