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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo: The Flower Council of Holland/

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).

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Photo: Anthony Tesselaar Plants at

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.

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