10 Ways To Create a Private Backyard Retreat

Need a place to get away from it all? Craft a garden getaway in your own yard to relieve stress and grow good health.

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: The Flower Council of Holland/thejoyofplants.co.uk

Photo By: Anthony Tesselaar Plants at Tesselaar.com

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Fiskars.com

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Anthony Tesselaar Plants at Tesselaar.com

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: All-AmericaSelections.org

Make Your Escape

Pamper yourself by transforming an outdoor space into a custom retreat. Japanese forest bathing research shows that time spent in the Great Outdoors brings significant health benefits — lower blood pressure, less stress, greater empathy. Green spaces soothe both body and brain, and you can reap the results with a spot in your own yard. Start your project by choosing an area with easy access. A small deck, porch, patio or corner of a garden provides a terrific foundation for a home-sweet-home getaway. Approach your project with an eye to design by including touches that speak to your style (retro? chic? urban?). You don’t have to spend big bucks to make it work. This welcoming retreat features a crate coffee table that blends beautifully with wooden chairs. Pots of colorful annuals bring nature near. Annuals include purple Angelonia with Raven (dark) sweet potato vine, Yellow Chiffon superbells, Royal Velvet supertunia, and 'Banana Cream' Shasta daisy with Vertigo purple fountain grass.

Keep It Cozy

Create a retreat just like you would an interior room by starting with furnishings. Consider your style and budget, along with how you’ll likely use the space. If your retreat is a cherished space for reading and hanging out with family, include plenty of seating options. For a retreat that provides an escape for morning coffee, you might just need one seat and a spot to park your favorite mug. Include container gardens to give the space a touch of greenery and nature that will minister to you, body and soul. These pots sport a mix of annuals: dwarf purple fountain grass with 'Sweet Caroline Light Green' sweet potato vine and Intensia blueberry phlox, dark Vertigo purple fountain grass, and Blushing Princess sweet alyssum solo and with Supertunias Royal Velvet and Trailing Silver. A pot of Diamond Frost euphorbia adds a just-right blooming accent to the coffee table.

Create Privacy

Every retreat needs some sort of screen or wall to provide a sense of privacy. If space is at a premium (think deck or balcony retreat), try a living wall planter or vines on a trellis to screen a space without gobbling up real estate. A fence, lattice or hedge provides year-round privacy, while plantings may only shelter your retreat during the height of the growing season. This hideaway bench boasts an industrial style that’s tucked behind a living screen of joe pye weed (Eutrochium) and tall maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Drown Out Noise

A privacy screen shuts out surrounding views, while a burbling fountain covers outside noise with a natural sound. Other options for canceling nearby noise include wind chimes, outdoor speakers (play nature soundtracks) or even a tabletop water garden. For a deck retreat, define different rooms in your retreat by incorporating elevation changes in your deck design. Plantings in this retreat include Bonfire begonia and Festival cordyline.

Light Up the Night

For retreat areas that you’ll use after sunset, include lighting in your design. Twinkle lights, outdoor lighting, lanterns, candles, solar lights — there’s definitely a light to suit your style. Consider combining different lighting options to give your retreat a dual personality — candles or twinkle lights for intimate gatherings or strings of larger wattage bulbs for entertaining. Built around a tree, this covered rooftop retreat features multiple lighting options, comfy built-in seating and even a bed for Fido. Pets like green spaces too.

Cater to Creature Comforts

Every outdoor retreat needs a few amenities, like a simple DIY bar. A bar like this is easy to stock whether you’re hosting yourself, family or a crowd, and it can also pull double duty as a privacy wall if you place it strategically. To decide other items you might want to include in your retreat, think about how you’ll use it. A meditation retreat calls for cushy pillows and zen-inspired stones, while a spot for an evening sip of wine needs only a comfy seat with wide arms.

Light a Fire

Plan on enjoying time in your retreat year-round by including a fire pit or other source of warmth for the chilly seasons. Tending a cozy fire brings its own magic for unwinding after busy days. Keep the makings of s’mores on hand if that makes you happy. Tall ornamental grass clumps enclose this retreat with a living privacy fence, and pretty seasonal container gardens offer a just-right splash of color. Before adding a fire feature to your outdoor spaces, be sure to check local codes.

Cast Some Shade

Sometimes the best spot for your outdoor retreat is a sun-splashed area. If you’ll be enjoying your retreat during the day, even if it’s only on weekends, it’s worth investing in some kind of shade. A simple patio umbrella can cast enough shade for a table and chairs, or consider adding an awning to your home to shade a greater area. Other options for creating a cooling pool of shade include a permanent structure, like a pergola (add vines for color) or gazebo. For a portable shade option, check out pop-up canopy designs. You can also use a temporary canopy to help you determine where you might want to add a more permanent structure in the future.

Choose Scent-sational Plants

Cater to all of your senses as you craft your retreat. By including fragrant flowers and herbs in the mix, you’ll discover the joy of breathing in rich floral aromas or spicy tones, which enhances the whole outdoor relaxation experience. Container gardens don’t have to be boring. Tuck plants into crates, baskets, buckets or your old garden boots. Plantings give you a chance to express your creativity and give your retreat a true signature style. This scented retreat includes two types of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Blue Spear and Avignon Early Blue. Other herbs that offer a nose-pleasing bouquet include mint, basil, rosemary and thyme. For fragrant flowers, try dame’s rocket (Hesperis), Oriental lily, moonflower vine, rose or daphne.

Grow Some Snacks

Plantings for a retreat can also include things that serve up a taste explosion, like this hanging basket cherry tomato (Tomato ‘Terenzo’ F1). Plant breeders are developing more and more edible plants for containers, including strawberry, blackberry, raspberry and blueberry. You can easily raise tomato, pepper, English peas or greens in pots. With all of these crops, eating sun-ripened produce becomes part of your retreat experience. As you shop for edible plants to grow in containers, look for plant tags with words like "snacking," "patio," "pot" or other size indicators (mini, dwarf, Tom Thumb, Wee Be Little). If you look up plant names online, most descriptions should include specific tips about best pot size for growing.

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