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Soto Journal & Inspiration

How to create the perfect alfresco dining environment

The garden is an extension of your home, and with a few simple steps can become a relaxing and stylish alfresco dining room. Will Williams, Soto Creative Director and multi-medal winning garden designer suggests five steps to creating the perfect environment to relax with friends.

A glass of wine, firing up the barbecue or a family brunch, your garden can become another room in which to entertain. Follow these simple steps to turn your balcony or garden into the perfect environment for relaxing with friends.

Hyrdrangea and Big Green Egg MiniMax

Your garden is another room in your home

Think of your outside space as another room to relax and entertain. Often, your outside space can be seen from the principal rooms so seasonal interest is key. Your homes interior is a great place to look for inspiration when planning for its exterior. Kitchens are often great indicators of the design direction to follow - is it sleek and modern or is it traditional and elegant.

Soto Gardens Green Lifestyle

Consider the amount of maintenance you would like to commit to

Would you prefer a glass of rosé or a trowel in your hand on a sunny weekend afternoon? If you’d rather be relaxing, then shrubs and especially evergreens offer low-maintenance impact. The Soto collections are designed to be easy to care for, and the Soto Green collection is especially laid back. It contains Dwarf Mountain Pines, Astrantia Shaggys and Japanese Forrest Grasses.

Instant impact

Often Soto customers are looking to smarten up their garden for a gathering the following weekend. If you are looking for instant impact, consider when the plant flowers and the size of the nursery pot the plant will arrive in. At Soto most plants arrive in a 7.5 litre pot or 2 -3 litre pot.
Whilst you may want an instant look, plants that come back year after year are much better for the environment and are better value for money. Astrantias, Catmint and Mexican Feather Grass are great for adding instant ‘wow’ throughout the summer and what's more they return each year.

Catmint in a terracotta pot

Season from your garden

Show your green-fingered credentials by adding to your salad with herbs tended by you. At Soto we have a number of herb kitchens, including the nine-pot collection which can form the basis of an impressive kitchen garden, even in a small space. The nine pot selection includes Parsley, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Chives, Oregano, Lemon Thyme, Fennel and Sage. Make the herbs a feature of your garden by displaying them in pots on a stand.

Get the basics right

Getting the basics right when planning your garden sets a healthy foundation. Ensure your plant choices can tolerate the soil in your garden and always try to improve drainage and soil structure with grit and mulch. Watering correctly when planting, whilst sounding simple, can make all the difference to how robust your plants are.
The amount of light your garden gets will affect your planting choices. South facing gardens should contain plants that do well in the hot sun, whereas north facing gardens will require shade loving plants. At Soto, we list our plants and border collections according to the aspect they thrive under. Soto provides guides to help in the Masterclass series.

Herb Stand large Soto Gardens

Further reading

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