Creating Your Stay-At-Home Oasis
If you’re a gardener, you already know the advantages of spending time outdoors: lower stress levels, less mental fatigue, a boost in creativity and a variety of benefits that can improve health. If you are spending more time working at home, playing with kids or just relaxing, why not make it the best outdoors it can be?
“A backyard oasis can be your own personal escape,” says Eric Van Grinsven, a landscape designer with the Gardens of Babylon design team. “It’s the area where you can be when you’re stressed from work or things are getting to you, your little spot you can disappear to or just relax and be surrounded by nature.”
Eric offers these tips for turning your outdoor space into a place for retreat, rest and relaxation with well-planned hardscapes, plantings and garden amenities.
A perfect retreat
Consider the space: Do you have a large, sweeping yard? A city lot with a moderate amount of space for a garden? Maybe all you have to work with is a deck or balcony.
- Start by thinking about the sort of feeling you want to generate: Do you prefer a place that’s clean and uncluttered? Or do you see your ideal outdoor sanctuary being lush, full and densely planted?
- What will it take to maintain your oasis? Can you hire someone to keep an expansive landscape in good order? Do you enjoy doing your own planting, mulching, watering and weeding?
Landscape lights, pavers and plantings turn this plain backyard
in East Nashville into an attractive retreat.
Find the right balance
In a large landscape, think about the areas where you spend the most time or views that could be visually pleasing, and focus your efforts there, Eric suggests. The same advice goes for smaller areas where it may be more of a challenge to carve out garden space.
“We want to strike a nice balance between planted spaces and open, flex area.” You can maximize the use of space in a small back yard with an equal distribution of hardscape elements, usable area, plantings, and open lawn, for example.
If your retreat is your balcony or deck, consider how much space you have to work with and what the primary goal will be. A collection of potted plants and rail hangers can bring you closer to nature. For a shady balcony, bring on the shade-loving perennials and annuals. Sunny areas can hold containers planted with herbs or a patio tomato or two.
Don’t forget the ‘extras’
- Lighting: Think about how you want to experience the space after dark, Eric suggests. Landscape lights make a space more usable at night for gatherings with family and friends, and in a new design, accent lights are easier to install as part of the construction process. Lights can also be strategically placed in an existing landscape or patio design.
- Irrigation: An irrigation system is a big help if you have an extensive lawn of water-hungry fescue, or if your plantings are so extensive it’s difficult to accomplish watering with a hose or sprinklers.
The extras: A firepit, custom designed walls, trellises and other hardscape elements, along with containers, statuary, sculpture or other art, specimen trees or shrubs and other amenities make your stay-at-home oasis unique.
“You get to experience the world the way it was meant to be, and it’s in your own back yard,” Eric says.