May 28th, 2012
So you are renting a property in Spain. What kind of outside space do you fancy? A garden, a roof terrace or a nice cool patio? Or is all you want outdoors a big swimming pool?
It’s horses for courses when it comes to how and where you want to spend your holiday. But one thing is certain. When it comes to living much of the day outdoors, there is no better country in Europe than Spain.
Let me begin with a roof terrace. A strange concept to many holidaymakers from northern Europe. Countless homes in Spain have a roof terrace, but you will rarely see Spanish homeowners sat in the sunshine on their roof terraces. They might use them for drying sausages, peppers or herbs. They might use them simply as places to dry their washing. But they never use them as suntraps.
And that is what they are. I am a big fan of roof terrace living. You often get a little breeze high up on the roof. That can be a relief at the height of a hot summer in Spain. And, what’s more, you get an aerial view of the town or countryside around you. That is what i enjoyed when staying in the beautiful Vejer de Frontera in the province of Cadiz.
You are up there with the birds. The swallows will swoop low above your head. You may find yourself renting a roof terrace that is well planted, such as the one photographed. So it is effectively a garden on the roof.
Gardens are rare in some parts of Spain and are, therefore, much sought after. If you can rent a place with a garden and an even rarer sight, a grass lawn, then you really have won the property renting lottery. A holiday in a garden and no responsibility for mowing the lawn. Brilliant.
A well furnished garden is what you need. Comfortable furniture that allows you to relax. Or, as British Prime Minister called it, “chillaxing.” Trees and plants can be very different in Spain so, if there is a keen gardener among you, they will revel in discovering new species. And it is nice to be sat among colourful plants rather than simply be on a beach.
A garden in Spain is your own private space. You don’t have to share it with lots of other people who are covered in sun lotion and who seem to bring the entire contents of their homes with them. As is often the case when the Spanish head for the beach.
But in areas such as Andalusia, gardens can be few and far between when it comes to renting a holiday home. Sofia Lyttle runs Granada Gardens and takes people on excursions of the best public and private gardens in the city of Granada. She comes across many visitors who want to rent or buy a property with a garden.
She says: “I created a garden for someone who wanted to rent out their home and be able to offer a lovely green space. There are people looking for property to rent with a luscious garden.
“It was a challenge. I was working with soil that had been excavated from the site where a swimming pool would be built. The soil was full of rocks, discarded fencing and took many days to dig over with an essential gardening tool in Spain; a mattock.
“Green fingered people like me come to Spain and often bemoan the lack of plant life at the property they are staying in. They say that they would happily water the plants for the owner while they are on holiday. But not all holidaymakers have the time to do that. They are too busy laying backing and soaking up the joys of Spain.”
“I met Heinrich and Brunhilde at their holiday home in the sheltered location of La Herradura on the colourful Costa Tropical. Walking around their garden what I especially liked about it was how varied it is. It includes a little of everything that grows well in this very humid area. Specimens such as Brugmansia, Nispero, Strelitzia (bird of paradise) and Agave. Along with many, many succulents which are perfect as they don’t require any watering so you can simply sit back and admire them.”
But many a holidaymaker in Spain do want water. But they only want it come in the shape of a swimming pool. It is their number one must have feature when renting a property. A well maintained, clean and spacious pool is what you should be looking for. If the property has great views from the pool , so much the better. And, of course, some people want an infinity pool.
I am not a pool person. On the rare occasion i can be persuaded to get in a swimming pool, i am bored after five minutes. But i am a rarity in Spain. I don’t swim! For many people renting property in Spain, swimming in the pool of their holiday home will take up more of their hours than any other facet of their break in the country.
Maintaining pools is a constant and costly business for those who own the home you are renting. So beware of renting a property with a pool that has not been well looked after.
Another traditional use of outdoor space in Spain is to have a cool and shady patio. After all, summers in the likes of the great city of Granada, and the sumptuous surroundings of Seville, can be very hot. There will be a time of the day when you would like to still be outdoors but not be in the direct heat of the sun. So an Andalusian patio is what is needed.
They are lovely spaces. Often located between two parts of the same property, a patio is likely to be planted with orange or fig trees. Or perhaps some trailing jasmine and a bamboo tree that fans you a little when a breeze comes along.
If you rent a property with an internal patio, you really are living life Spanish style. I love to retreat to a shady patio when it gets too hot up on the roof.
Wherever you choose to rent in Spain, and whichever kind of outdoor space you opt for, be sure to get somewhere that offers you something that is different from what you are used to. Try and rent somewhere that gets plenty of sun but also, for part of the day at least, offers you a shady corner to sit in and cool down.
The Spanish take for granted the fact that, for much of the year, they can be outside for most of the day and evening. When you come on holiday to Spain, do not make that mistake.
Be it on the roof terrace, in the garden or in a patio; enjoy one of the big benefits of life in Spain. Living outdoors.