Anne Ashworth of The Times looks at how intelligent design in an outdoor space can add to the value of your home.

This is the time of the year when people who are obsessed with interior decor style say, “let’s take this outside.” The garden becomes the focus of their attention. They race to local garden centres and to Columbia Road, the chic flower market in East London, where they not only buy plants and huge ceramic pots, but also observe what the hipsters are growing in their gardens or window boxes. 

The horticultural buzzword this summer is eco-consciousness: there is a new interest in the plants and trees that can combat air pollution which is why you are hearing so much about hornbeam trees, for example. While Richmond is the greenest London borough, there are pollution hotspots where this kind of planting could be particularly advantageous.

But the fixation with outdoor embellishment is not purely horticultural. These people also pore over Instagram images and articles explaining how to “take the inside out”, creating outdoor dining and chilling spaces, where guests will waft around, wearing white, sipping long drinks and enjoying even longer lunches. 

The £50,000 outdoor kitchen with wine chiller and BBQ oven is the dream. But the £600 pizza oven, in which you can also bake bread and other dishes, is a more modestly-priced substitute. 

These ovens caused much excitement at the Chelsea Flower Show this year but this event confirmed another outdoor trend- the treehouse. This feature, in the gloriously wild Chelsea garden designed by the Duchess of Cambridge, is seen as way to unleash the imagination of your children, turning them into adventurous lovers of nature. The adult treehouse, a part of the wellness suite at one New York development, has yet to cross the Atlantic but maybe we should be prepared. 

Rattan remains the most popular type of garden furniture, perhaps because of its use on the terraces of deluxe hotels. But wood and metal chairs, tables and sofas are rising up the charts perhaps because these materials are seen as more durable – and because this is the type of furniture seen on the terraces of private members’ clubs, that other major influence on the way we want our outdoor spaces to look now. 

The long hot summer of 2018 made an investment in outdoor space more worthwhile than in previous years, as evidenced by the new bar at the Bingham Riverhouse and The Terrace at the Richmond Harbour Hotel, but it may also have permanently raised the expectations of how gardens and terraces should be. A beautifully tended plot. has always been a selling point for a house, but the pictures of houses that came to the market late last summer contained not only images of lush greenery and floral exuberance, but also of elegant dining areas that conjured up the promise of a Mediterranean lifestyle in the London suburbs. If you are thinking of selling your home later this year, be aware that demanding buyers have found yet another thing to be fussy about.