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Backyard Spa Treatments

If want to enjoy the amenities of a spa retreat but without the costly expense, stage a day spa on your patio.

If you're looking for a way to enjoy the amenities of a spa retreat without the costly expense, all you need is your own backyard patio. Although you may typically use your patio as a place for cooking outdoors and entertaining guests, why not recreate a spa-like atmosphere in the privacy of your own backyard?

"I generally use my patio for entertaining, but for a spa treatment, that's special," says garden designer Jill Slater. With simple embellishments from around the house and purchased from the garden center, Jill shows how you can turn your patio into a day spa where special guests can enjoy facials, foot baths and even spa rock treatments.

Creating a spa-like atmosphere
In order to create a tranquil spa retreat, find ways to appeal to the five senses – sight, smell, taste, sound and touch – to help you get in the mood. Incorporate plants and accessories that offer appealing colors, textures, fragrances and even tastes.

To start, embellish existing patio furniture with big, comfortable pillows that invite spa-goers to sit and rest. Don’t be afraid to use different colors, sizes and textures. You can find a variety of pillows designed for indoor and outdoor use, and if you want something that stays on the patio, many of the new weatherproof fabrics are durable and attractive. Toss the pillows anywhere a bit of added comfort is desired.

However, if you're looking for an inexpensive alternative to dressing up drab pillows and cushions, use a beach towel as a covering. This way you can adjust it to fit an existing pillow accordingly, and when you're finished, take it back inside to wash in the laundry. “The best spas are meticulously clean so a beach towel that gets flung into the washing machine after a messy spa treatment makes a lot of sense," Slater says.

A home spa just wouldn't be a spa without the sound of tranquil water. "You can buy miniature tabletop fountains practically anywhere," Slater says. To add your own personal touch to your tabletop water feature, float flowers from your garden in the water or add brightly colored rocks or marbles to the water basin.

The soothing power of plants is an important ingredient to your backyard spa oasis. Use plants with palate-pleasing scents and textures. Herbs such as rosemary, lavender and scented geraniums not only smell and look great but can also be used in your homemade herbal spa treatments. Incorporate plants in shades of pastel pinks, purples, whites and silvers to create a soothing color palette. Get creative with moveable container plantings.

Finish setting up your outdoor spa by accessorizing with scented candles, an outdoor rug, hand towels, bottled water and other objects. Play some soft mood music in the background. Set up a standalone umbrella to protect spa-goers from the sun or stand an oscillating fan in one corner to provide a gentle breeze on a hot day.

Homemade spa treatments
Once the atmosphere has been created, invite some friends over for a day at your home spa and prepare all-natural homemade spa treatments that you can give to your friends. Start with a foot and hand soak. Add equal parts of warm water and buttermilk to a large bowl and stir gently. Then add a few dashes of essential oil to the mixture. Lavender can be used for its calming and balancing properties, while eucalyptus is a good choice for an uplifting, refreshing feel. Place hands in the bowl and allow to rest for a few minutes. Add smooth rocks to the bowl for a nice foot massage.

Perhaps a little exfoliation is on the menu? Prepare two cups of sea salt, one cup of grapeseed oil and a few liberal dashes of jasmine essential oil for a moisturizing exfoliating treatment.

And who doesn't love a rose mask facial? Prepare three tablespoons of natural yogurt (not the low-fat kind), 2-1/2 tablespoons of rose water and a dollop of honey as a natural antiseptic.

You could even grow the sponge used to apply these mixtures. The loofah sponge is a natural exfoliant and can be grown in your own garden. Purchase loofah gourd seed online or at a specialty garden center and plant them after the last frost date. Let the fruit ripen on the vine. Harvest them when you can hear the seeds rattling inside. Peel away the skin, remove the seeds and allow them to soak in water prior to use.

Patios are supposed to be relaxing sanctuaries that make you feel better, and here's one that helps you look better too. But the best part about the patio spa? No appointment necessary!

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