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Sunny garden

Why do people spend more time in the living room than in the garden? The answer is obvious – because the garden is outdoors, and therefore exposed to all the grim nastiness with which we’ve come to associate our British weather.

We’ve said time and again that the garden ought to be treated as another room of the house – just like the lounge or the dining room – but if you’re serious about enjoying your outdoor space, you’re going to have to think tactically. Here are a few tips for getting the most from your garden:

  • Never waste an opportunity! Unexpectedly sunny afternoon? Why not have dinner in the garden? Surprisingly warm weekend in the middle of autumn? Get the barbecue out and invite your friends over! Sunny days are meant to be spent outdoors, and the rainy days won’t be so disappointing if you make the most of dry ones.

  • Do something with it! There’s little point in having a barren, empty patch of lawn behind your house. Add some chairs, add a swingball set, add something – just don’t let it go to waste.

  • Keep it low-maintenance! Imagine a pie chart and split it down the middle. One half represents the days when you simply can’t go outside – maybe it’s raining, or maybe you’re just too busy. The other half represents the days that you could spend in the garden, but beware – if you make the wrong choices, you could end up spending a lot of that slice on maintenance when you could be relaxing. Go for low-maintenance outdoor products (like, say, Refin’s garden paving) and make sure you spend your garden time in the best possible way.

Decked and paved garden in Pontprennau

Both decking and paving are extremely popular choices for the back garden, but it's somewhat rare to see a garden design that utilises both. A lot of landscaping enthusiasts think of this as an either/or decision, but deck boards and paving slabs will quite happily go together, and if you're after a stunningly unique look for your outdoor space, this is definitely a tactic worth considering.

But how best to combine these two contrasting materials? Here are a few ideas...

Multiple Levels

This is the strategy that our architect deployed when designing the garden in the photo above. The doors open out onto a stylish paved patio, with a raised deck just beyond. This two-tier look is very appealing indeed, making the whole garden feel larger and, in a way, giving you two equally beautiful outdoor spaces for the price of one.

Keep 'Em Separated

If you've got a reasonably big garden, you may consider splitting it into different sections. Instead of sticking with that large, blank patch of lawn, you could install a small seating area at one end of the garden, and a nice little patio at the other. You could even have a hot tub in the corner - both composite wood and porcelain paving make great slip-resistant tub surrounds!

Blended Together

Decking and paving, used together

This approach is a little trickier, but the results are well worth the effort. We found the above image on Pinterest, and it's the perfect example: the duality of that design makes for a smooth, elegant outdoor living space. Mind you, you'll have to cut your boards and pavers quite precisely if you want to create that flawless transition between them.

No matter what you have in mind for your outdoor space, we at PrimaPorcelain can help. In addition to our spectacular porcelain paving products, we are also able to supply low-maintenance deck boards, and if you want to use one or both of these materials in your garden, our experienced in-house architect will be more than happy to help with the design.

Silver and blue Christmas decorations

Image from Christmas Stock Images

It's less than a week until Christmas, and you've probably had your decorations up for at least a couple of weeks now. Sparkly tinsel wrapped around the banister; festive shapes hanging from the ceiling; the colourful cards from old friends; and, of course, a beautiful Christmas tree, decked out with dazzling decorations.

But while every home in the country is currently glowing with festive cheer, the gardens of Britain look decidedly less merry. Very few people bother with the garden when they're doing their Christmas decorating, and since December is a pretty cruel month for outdoor spaces anyway, your back yard probably doesn't look all that inviting right now.

So why not give it a makeover? A little decorative elbow grease will do wonders for your barren winter garden, turning into a cosy Christmas wonderland in no time.

Decorated Christmas Reindeer Topiary

Don't worry - you don't have to go to such topiarific lengths as this!

The festive period is very much in full swing, and there's still plenty of time left for you to decorate the garden and enjoy the results. Here are a few tips for the perfect Yuletide outdoor space...

Use tinsel, and lots of it!
Tinsel is perhaps the ultimate Christmas decoration, and its versatility makes it ideal for doing up the garden. Strew it anywhere it will stay - on branches, in between poles, wrapped around tree trunks, in amongst flowers...

Any tree can be a Christmas tree!
Very few UK gardens will contain a genuine pine or fir, but who says that they're the only trees that can be Christmas trees? If you've got a little sapling in your back garden, there's no reason why you can't decorate it with baubles and other ornaments.

Light it up!
Nothing will give your garden that warm glow like a set of fairy lights. If you can't find anywhere to plug them in, you can get battery-powered fairy lights that are much more versatile.

No matter how you decorate your home and garden this December, we hope you have a very merry Christmas indeed!

Porcelain Paving unsurprisingly specialises in supplying beautiful porcelain paving slabs to transform your home both inside and out, but we understand that occasionally people might like to take their designs that extra step to complete the look. Though our beautiful range of Out 2.0 porcelain tiles are the perfect finishing touch to both outdoor and indoor areas of the home, we strive to offer all we can to help our customers achieve their dream home.

 One of our additional decorative products is the option to insert a stunning Glass Balustrade System on to your patio. A balustrade is a series of reinforced glass panels connected by sleek stainless steel posts. When added to your porcelain paved patio, a glass balustrade can provide a stunning finish and air of sophistication to your home. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, a glass balustrade also doubles as a safety measure by fencing your patio or roof terrace in, which is so important if you have young children or simply wish to protect your home, in style of course!

Glass balustrades sit along the edge of your balcony, roof terrace or patio and frame the space in a chic and modern way. It can provide a stunning division between the grass and tiled area of your garden and offers a unique look to your garden.

Glass balustrade

At Porcelain Paving we can provide the perfect glass balustrade for your outdoor design and can even include a handrail with your glass balustrade system. Our glass panels are made with ultra-strong 10mm glass and corrosion-resistant stainless steel, so your stunning balustrade system will never lose its gorgeous appearance. Combined with your stain-resistant and scratch-resistant porcelain paving tiles, your outdoor space will be transformed into a haven of timeless beauty.

If you’d like more information about glass balustrade systems, our team are on hand to answer any questions on 029 2080 3756 or via email at 

Today is the 25th of November, which means that it’s precisely one month until Christmas day. If you haven’t already starting planning for the big day, it’s high time you started!

There’s plenty to do, of course. You’ll need to sort out the food, the decorations, and – if your relatives are coming to stay – the extra sleeping space. And then there’s the shopping; people will be expecting presents on Christmas morning, and you can’t let them down!

But what about the part after the shopping - where does your family congregate when it’s time to open the presents? In the living room, perhaps? Or maybe you exchange gifts in the dining room, after you’ve polished off Christmas dinner?

How about in the garden? If you’re lucky enough to have a gazebo or some other kind of sheltered area out the back, there’s a feast of festive fun just waiting to unfold in your outdoor space!  You’ll have to wrap up warm, obviously, but spending Christmas Day in your own personal winter wonderland can be a brilliant alternative to the usual practice of lounging around in front of the TV. Christmas trees look great outdoors, and keeping it out the back is a great way to prevent those pesky pine needles from cluttering up your carpet. Put the tree up where it’s safe from the elements, arrange the presents underneath it, and add some decorations to create your very own cosy Christmas grotto!

The problem, naturally, is that traditions die hard and that goes treble for Christmas traditions. If you’ve got a big routine that you follow every time the 25th of December rolls around – wake up, open presents, have lunch, spend the rest  of the day playing with presents/watching Christmas television/getting tipsy – then you might find it hard to loosen up and squeeze some garden time into your schedule. But the beauty of this idea is that you don’t have to make time – you could open your presents in the garden, have some hot mulled wine and a mince pie outside, and then retreat indoors for  business as usual from there on out. The warm glow of TV will feel even nicer when you’ve been outside in the cold immediately beforehand.

Garden in the snow

Photo by Lee Jordan

Oh, and just to make that Yuletide scene even more picturesque, there’s a real possibility that it will come with a layer of white icing on top. There’s a 20% likelihood of snowfall this Christmas – higher if you live north of Yorkshire - which means that you’ve got a 1 in 5 chance of having some fresh white powder to shuffle through en route to your Christmas grotto. Just imagine how good your patio will look: present-pregnant Christmas tree at the centre, colourful lights and tinsel strewn about the place, and snow all around it. How idyllic does that sound?

Christmas in the living room is fine, but Christmas in the garden could be truly magical. Give it a try, see how you like it, and if it’s not for you, you can always grab the presents, scurry inside, and enjoy the sight of your gorgeous garden through a window while sat in the relative warmth of your house. That won’t happen, though; do it right, and you’ll still be out in the back yard by Boxing Day!

So break with tradition and do something different this December. Tell your family that they’ll be opening their Christmas presents in the back garden this year, and cross your fingers for some snow to frolic in afterwards.