When you first walked into your new Malta property, you were faced with a bare paved back yard. It could have been a bare terrace, or a bare patio. Whatever sort of outdoor space your piece of real estate in Malta could boast of, was very outdoor but also very bare. Glum predicament, and although the Malta real estate agent tooted about it and its potential, now that you’ve bought it, you still have to find a way of arousing that potential. If you don’t exactly have green fingers, then you will need some practical advise on the easy way around getting it revamped.
First consider how large your given space is. Then determine what you want to do in it. If its small size fluctuates somewhere between that of a spare bedroom and a bathroom, then you are probably just hoping for enough elbow space in which to stretch out and gasp in some fresh air. But don’t lose heart – even the pokiest outdoor space can be totally transformed if you only put your mind to it.
- Clear up the space from any rubbish in the corners and take stock of the character of the place. Does it have high walls all around? Does it have a balcony which overlooks a lovely sight or one which overlooks more brick and mortar? Does it lead anywhere else?
- Is the outdoor space very sunny, semi-shaded or very shaded? This will determine the kind of plants you will need to include when you start off your greening list.
- Decide on a colour scheme. You might fancy terracotta walls or whitewash, or a primary colour like blue. You might decide to have some sort of mosaic detail on one wall or perhaps just leave the walls in natural stone and decorate with the greenery. One of the most exciting walls I have seen was a whitewashed backyard wall carrying an impressive collection of terracotta sun plaques.
- For those who are faced with four bare walls, the good news is that bare walls are excellent for climbing plants. These can be helped in their climbing by the addition of pretty wooden or plastic trellises that can be easily attached to the wall. If you seek the advice at a reliable nursery, you will be able to get a fast-growing plant which potentially also produces flowers, such as the white stephanotis. Using this plant against a terracotta coloured wall is great for visual impact.
- Choose succulents such as the Paddle Plant or the Sempervivum for sunny areas. These grow so easily in Mediterranean Malta. If you manage to get cuttings of varied succulents from the neighbours, just leave each cutting sitting on a ledge to dry in the sun, and once the cut-off stem has dried out completely, plant in the soil and water sparingly. You can plant multiple cuttings in one trough or large round pot, to eventually get a lovely crowded effect. Succulents grow with minimal care and thrive best in sunny places which offer just some dose of shade during the day.
- Get hold of geraniums. Geraniums, both regal and not, will grow brilliantly and thrive where there is sun. Don’t try to plant them in shady places – they will just wilt away.
- For shadier places choose simple things like the Asparagus Fern, Flowering Begonias, Spider Plants or Umbrella Grass. The latter loves having its tootsies immersed in water.
- Choosing pots that complement your idea of a haven. If you’re after a modern look – choose elegant stream-lined shapes and bold colours. If you’re after a more country-fairy look, choose natural terracotta and rounder shapes. For the classical look try porcelain pot holders. Always put saucers beneath the pots as Maltese summers are very dry and water must be conserved as long as possible. Once the rain starts, turn the saucer upside down and put the pot on it like a pedestal.
Adapt garden furniture according to your space. A hammock can be hung from two sturdy hooks on either side of the yard; a small round garden table and a couple of chairs; a wooden bench in one corner. Try wind chimes, plaques, festoons, hanging flowering pot plants and coloured cushions to make the transformation complete.
Redesigning or nuturing your backyard/terrace will not only benefit your well being but will also add to the value of your Malta property, especially if it is flourishing during the time that you are selling your property in Malta. A buyer would definately appreciate what they see and won’t get a bad impression if your were to leave it bare.
Marika Azzopardi is a freelance writer and journalist. A frequent contributor to national English language papers and magazines, she writes about a bevy of topics including art, people and life in general. She is also the author of children’s books and short stories, delving into adult fiction from time to time.