9 Ways to Make Your Own Private Backyard Retreat
There’s nothing like nature for stress relief and encouraging good health. If you’re needing a place to get away from it all, it’s time to create your own garden getaway.
Plan Your Escape
Research shows that time spent outdoors has its benefits, including lowered blood pressure and stress relief. Green spaces soothe your brain and your body, so why not take care of yourself by transforming an outdoor space into your own custom retreat?
Begin by finding an easy access area — a small porch, deck, patio or the corner of a garden are all great choices to work with. Now choose a design aesthetic that speaks to your style. Chic? Urban? Retro? Rustic? Keep in mind, a big budget is not required to make this outdoor sanctuary work. You can do a lot with a few basic elements.
Like you would any interior room, create your retreat by starting with the furnishings. Good questions to ask yourself are how you’ll be using the space, what design style you prefer, and what your budget allows. For instance, if your retreat is mainly a pleasant spot for reading and spending time with family, you’ll want to include plenty of comfortable seating options. Conversely, a compact, happy space for drinking your morning coffee may only require a single seat and a spot to set your mug. Regardless of its purpose, be sure to include container gardens for a touch of greenery to ensure you reap the benefits of nature for your body and soul.
Privacy is a Must
Your retreat is going to need a screen or wall of some sort to provide a sense of privacy. For those lacking space (such as a balcony or deck retreat), consider a living wall planter or a trellis with vines to screen your space without gobbling up valuable room. Keep in mind that plantings may only provide the shelter you want during the height of the growing season. More permanent privacy solutions require a fence, lattice or hedge.
Nix the Noise
Privacy screens are helpful, but also shut out surrounding views. An outdoor water fountain can be used to mask outside noise with a more natural sound. Other noise-canceling options include wind chimes, a tabletop water garden, or installing outdoor speakers to play nature soundtracks.
If your outdoor sanctuary will be used after the sun goes down, include lighting in your design. With a wide range of outdoor lighting available — including twinkle lights, lanterns, candles and solar lights — you’ll have no problem finding a light choice to fit your design style. Combining different lighting options will give your retreat flexibility. For instance, candles or twinkle lights are perfect for intimate gatherings while strings of larger bulbs work well for entertaining.
If budget allows, give your outdoor retreat a few amenities to make it more comfortable for its purpose. A meditation-focused retreat naturally calls for cushy pillows and throws, while a peaceful spot for an evening nightcap would be more comfortable with a plush seat featuring wide arms. A simple DIY bar is also a great addition, whether it’s just you enjoying the space or you’re hosting a crowd. As a bonus, the bar can pull double duty as a privacy barrier if placed strategically.
Fire It Up
A fire pit or other source of heat for the colder seasons will enable you to enjoy your retreat all year long. Plus, the simplicity of tending a fire is a stress reliever of its own after a busy day at the office. Keep hot dogs and the makings for s’mores on hand if cooking over a fire brings you joy. Tip: Check local codes before adding a fire element to your outdoor space.
Sometimes having your retreat positioned in an open, sun-splashed space is unavoidable. If that’s the case, and you plan on making use of your retreat during the day, investing in some kind of shade is a necessity. It can be in the form of a simple patio umbrella to shade a table and chairs, or a more permanent solution like an awning, which offers shade to a larger area. Some other options include adding a permanent structure like a gazebo for bigger budgets, or portable shade like a pop-up canopy for smaller budgets. A temporary canopy serves well in helping to determine where a more permanent structure will work best in the future.
We’ve covered views, sounds, providing refreshments and physical comforts. Now it’s time to cater to your sense of smell. Including fragrant flowers and herbs into your retreat design enhances the entire outdoor experience. Simply tuck plants into baskets, buckets, crates or odd-ball containers like your old garden boots. Get creative and give your retreat a style of its own. Herbs that offer healing aromas include lavender, mint, basil, rosemary and thyme. Try Oriental lily, moonflower vine, roses or daphne for especially pleasing flower fragrances.