Eleven planning questions to help you design your ultimate alfresco

Designing Your Ultimate Alfresco 

Eleven planning questions to get you started

Whether it’s starting from scratch, revamping your patio into a divine alfresco area or extending your outdoor entertaining area, you need a plan. 

To help get you started, here are eleven planning questions to consider before starting to design your ultimate alfresco.

Download a copy of these questions here.

    1. What is my alfresco area going to be used for? 
    2. Am I designing it for entertaining or for “me time”?
    3. How often do I plan to use my alfresco area?
    4. What time of day (morning, afternoon, evening or all the time) will I use my alfresco area the most? 
    5. What is the orientation of my alfresco area?
    6. Do I plan to use it all year round?
    7. How much maintenance am I prepared to do?
    8. Do I have trees overhanging that will drop leaves?
    9. Do I want my alfresco area to be weatherproof?
    10. Do I want flexible roofing and walls, or fixed structures?
    11. What look and feel do I like in designs?

By answering these questions you should get a clear picture of what you want your outdoor space to look like. And, how you want it to function. 

If you are considering adding an alfresco to your home and need inspiration and help with understanding your options feel free to contact our alfresco specialist for further advice.

Creating an outdoor space to suit all seasons

Creating an outdoor space to suit all seasons

Does your outdoor space suit all seasons.

Evenings and weekends spent with family and friends… eating, drinking and laughing or just relaxing. Sound familiar?

If so, you probably have an outdoor space. Outdoor spaces come in many forms. Yours might be a patio, pergola, gazebo, or deck. You might even have an Ultimate Alfresco outdoor space.

The question is – do you use your outdoor space all year around?

Traditionally, outdoor areas are used more during the temperate months of the year – early summer and early autumn are usually the favourite months for alfresco use here and around Albury Wodonga.

However, designing your outdoor area with a little imagination makes it possible to enjoy your space all year around.

Here are three tips on how to create an outdoor space to suit all seasons.

1.      Create a versatile space

The key to making sure you can use your outdoor area throughout the year is to install some form of shelter. Depending on your preferences, you can choose a range of roofing options, for example, Louvrtec opening roofs can be opened and closed to create shade or let the sun shine through.

You can also create versatile walls using shutters, louvre panels, outdoor blinds or sliding doors to provide you with screening and ventilation options.

Whatever your choice, creating a sheltered alfresco area will help you to get the most of your outdoor space throughout the year.

2.      Install climate control

Australia is a land of extreme temperatures. We regularly get40+º temperatures in Summer and minus temperatures in Winter. And, no-one really wants to be outside in those temperatures…unless you have a climate-controlled outdoor space.

Installing heating and cooling is the best way to counteract these extremes and improve the liveability of your alfresco area.

You have a number of options from electric heating and cooling to fireplaces and misting fans, and more. The choice is up to you.

3.      Have appropriate lighting

You shouldn’t have to head back indoors once the sun goes down. Not when it can be as simple as switching the lights on to keep the party going.

Investing in lighting is not only practical but also a great way to create ambiance. Outdoor lighting comes in many different forms and can be both functional and beautiful. Think about what you’d like your alfresco area to feel like. Warm and cosy with a low lighting, or bright and modern with clean bright lights. When it comes to lighting ideas consider what would be most appropriate for your outdoor space. And, if you need help, talk to us.

Bonus fourth tip – Choose your furniture carefully. Read more about this here.

If you need help creating your dream alfresco to suit all seasons, feel free to contact our Alfresco Specialist, Letitia Awdjew.

Patios and Pergolas – what’s the difference?

Patios and Pergolas – what’s the difference?

When it comes to designing your outside space there are so many choices. For example, do you choose a patio or a pergola. And what is the difference between the two?

Below we’ve outlined the differences between these two garden features. And, we talk about how each one can really bring out the best in your outdoor area.


A patio is traditionally designed to expand the usable space of your home, turning your outside space or verandah into an outdoor room, so to speak.

Modern patio designs can create a perfect outdoor space for family gatherings, parties or even just for relaxing with a good book.

A basic patio is usually directly adjoining the outside wall of your home and has an area of flat, paved ground. A roof provides shelter and creates that outdoor room feeling.

Patios great for:

  • Adding value to your home
  • Giving a more spacious feel by creating an extra outdoor room
  • Shield you from the elements; rain, hail or shine

So, how are pergolas different from patios?


The primary difference between a pergola and a patio is in its purpose.

A patio is usually useable all year round

A pergola is designed to be an enhancing feature of your garden. Making it more versatile.

Traditionally pergolas are ornamental and designed to enhance the appeal of your garden.

A big difference with pergolas is that they are also usually free-standing. In saying this, they can be attached to the wall of your home too.

Similar to patios, pergolas can be made as open or as enclosed as you want them to be. If you seek some extra privacy you can add climbing or trailing plants to create a natural partition.

A pergola is a great way to extend your living space and to get more out of your garden or outdoor area.

Pergolas are great for:

  • Adding a touch of individual style to your garden
  • Making your outdoor space more visually appealing
  • Adding privacy to gardens that are overlooked by other homes

If you need help deciding whether patio or a pergola would suit your home, feel free to contact our alfresco specialist, Letitia

Best patio plants

Best patio plants

If you’re looking to add that extra impact to your alfresco area, then patio plants are the ideal go to.

Patio plants can add a whole other dimension to your outdoor space. They can be layered using various heights to fill space or draw your eye to a particular area in your patio. Or, they can create an oasis for you to sit and relax in. And, they can also create a frame to feature a certain area of your alfresco. There are many options to using your patio plants to create impact. 

So, what are the best patio plants to use?

Here are four patio plants that we have seen used really effectively.


Ficus are one of the best patio plants out there. They are really well suited to life under a patio or an outdoor room. Ficus are available in a variety of names and are quite hardy. And, they are green all year round and have some stunning leaf colouring.

Patio Ficus


Ferns are another great patio plant and they come in a huge range of varieties. You can mix and match them to create an area of textural impact. Or choose all the same variety and create a beautiful plump green space full of foliage that has a real wow factor. They are also evergreen, so you have colour all year round.

Patio ferns

The humble pineapple

A pineapple is a great plant for your patio as they will grow just about anywhere. They are ridiculously easy to grow and don’t take much care. They have a long thin leaf and will grow in very shallow pots because the pineapple itself grows above the plant. When they start to fruit the flower is spectacular. And you get to see the fruit take shape right before your eyes.

However, pineapples only fruit once in their lifetime before they begin to die.  The good news is that they do the produce baby plants from the crown. These baby plants can issue their own fruit.

Patio pineapple


Bromeliads are a beautifully exotic looking plant, with a gorgeous flower. As a patio plant, bromeliads have a visually stunning impact.  They are relatively easy to look after. Like the pineapple, if you harvest the ‘pups’ (small growths produced by the original plant) and place them in pots you don’t have to worry about purchasing new plants when your original Bromeliads start to die off.

Patio Bromeliad

More information about why adding plants to your alfresco is beneficial is shared in Four tips to freshen up your alfresco.

If you need help creating your dream alfresco, feel free to contact our Alfresco Specialist, Letitia Awdjew.

Four ways to help you keep cool

Four ways to help you keep cool

Summer is well and truly here with some hot, hot, hot days ahead. So, here are four ways to help you and your family keep cool.

1. Portable shade

It might be a bit late in the season to install a louvre roof to control your shade for this summer however there are temporary options available.

There are a great range of canopy umbrellas out there these days. You can choose round ones, square ones, cantilevered umbrellas and traditional outdoor umbrellas.

They are a great option for summer if you have shade challenges or need to extend your alfresco area temporarily. To create an extended shady area, place your umbrellas side by side, with the
edges overlapping each other.

Potted plants can also create shade. You will need quite tall plants, which means you might need help moving them around to make sure the shade falls where you need it. However the
additional benefit is that plants can make your alfresco feel cooler and more tropical.

2. Fan options

Ceiling fans are a great way to generate a breeze and help bring down the temperature. However, if you don’t already have them installed in your alfresco area, there are alternatives. Traditional pedestal fans create flexibility as you can position them to create breeze where required, or have them set on rotate to cover a wider area.

Also popular are portable misting fans. Not only do they cool they also remove dust and pollen from the air and are a deterrent to flies and other insects.

3. Keeping your best friend cool

If you are feeling the heat, then you can bet your furry friends are too. Ideally, on hot days it’s better to bring your pets indoors (especially if you have air conditioning), however, this is not
always possible.

The RSPCA provide some great tips on helping to keep your pets cool in summer, including:

  • Making sure there is plenty of shade available
  • Providing plenty of fresh, cool water in large water containers
  • Walking your pet in the coolness of the early morning or evening
  • If your pet seems to be in discomfort, try wetting its feet and misting water onto its face

You can check out all the RSPCA tips here

4. Refreshing drinks

A cool drink is a great way to bring down your body temperature and combat the heat of the day.

Here are some cool tips to help you cool down your drinks.

  • Put little pieces of fruit in your ice tray with your water, to create a little extra something when adding ice to your water. Citrus works particularly well and is quite refreshing.
  • You can do the same with fresh herbs from your garden – mint works especially well.
  • Keep a jug of water in the fridge so you have cold water immediately available (although training family members to keep it refilled, might be a challenge!). Similar to above, adding slices of lemon, or lime, gives it an extra refreshing taste.
  • Freeze individual grapes and pop one or two into your glass of white wine or champagne. That way, your wine doesn’t get watered down like it would if you popped an ice cube in
  • If you prefer red wine, pop your bottle into the fridge for about 20 minutes before opening it. Red wine is meant to be enjoyed at room temperature, however in summer room temperature is too hot. Twenty minutes in the fridge should bring it to the right temperature to enjoy.
  • Put juice into your ice trays and freeze. This gives you options of flavouring your different drinks when adding ice cubes.

These four tips are great temporary measures to cool down outside. If you want to turn your alfresco area into a more climate controlled outdoor room, contact our alfresco specialist, Letitia.