Does the world today have you stressed to your max? Have your summer plans been cancelled until further notice? Are you getting a little stir crazy sitting at home, maybe find yourself looking out the window at a yard that needs some work and wish you could magically transport yourself just about anywhere else right now?
You’re not alone!
With routines disrupted and a trend toward staying home, more and more people are turning to home improvement projects to make their living environment more enjoyable for the long term. So if your back yard doesn’t call you to step outside and relax, if your outdoor space is anything less than your own personal sanctuary and escape, then it’s time to reflect on how to improve that.
In our last post we shared landscape elements that can bring peace and a little bit of self-indulgent joy to your space. In this one, we’re going a little more abstract – and exploring the sensory side of things. Here are even more ways to turn a ho-hum back yard into the perfect summer retreat space.
1. Choose Colors That Set The Right Mood
Choosing colors is an art and science in itself. Too much and your eye won’t know where to rest, causing more chaos than contentment. Too little and your space won’t be very interesting at all.
Color has the power to make a space appear larger or smaller, to make you feel exhilarated or serene, and to give your space a personality, whether that’s country chic or effortless elegance.
Colors should be harmonious – think soothing yellows paired with regal purples, or a single pop of rich red against a largely muted backdrop. It’s also subjective. What you find relaxing, another person may find dull or even jarring.
Keep in mind that color doesn’t have to come in the form of a flower. Sure, you want beautiful blooms that make you feel great about being in your garden space, but color can be added in other ways, too.
The furniture you choose can bring color, as can accessories, décor, artwork, bubblers, patio stones and more. Together, these elements should create a pleasing backdrop against which you can stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment.
2. Clear (Or Hide) The Chaos
You may flop onto the sofa and zone out in front of the TV after dinner, but if the dishes are still piled in the sink and the laundry isn’t folded and the kids’ toys are strewn across the floor – are you *really* relaxed? Or are you left distracted and irritated by the visual chaos around you?
Your outdoor experience can be much the same if it’s cluttered with garden hoses, piles of leftover patio bricks, lawn supplies, bikes and garbage pails. You’re likely to only be as relaxed as the environment you’re in, and if your environment is screaming chaos, your mind won’t be far behind.
Start by clearing out anything that doesn’t need to be there. Are you really going to use those leftover bricks? And it’s been years since the kids outgrew that tricycle. Purge anything that is either unnecessarily, or doesn’t bring you joy.
Once you’ve decluttered, you’re bound to be left with a lot of “necessary but not very attractive” stuff. That’s where creative landscaping comes in. Just about any eyesore, including life’s little necessities, can be tucked away or camouflaged.
Those ugly trash and recycling bins, for example, can be easily hidden behind a lovely vine-or-flower covered trellis, or within an easy-access enclosure. Garden tools can be designated their own storage shed, or be hidden in a bench-turned-chest. Bare patches in shady or damp spots can become natural stone hardscapes or container gardens.
From décor to plantings to special structures, anything that doesn’t contribute to your peace and relaxation can be whisked away almost like magic.
3. Surround Yourself With Calming Sound
Sound can come from many places. Sometimes it can be distracting and maddening, like the drone of an air conditioner or the noise from a nearby street. Other sounds bring ease and contentment, and those are the ones you want to invite into your yard.
We’ve talked about how water can create soothing sounds, whether from a lively stream or tumbling waterfall. And how it can even mask unwanted noises. The cheerful chirping of birds will keep you company if you’ve provided them with a welcoming environment.
But that’s not all! Your plant choices matter, too. Tall grasses, for example, are a playground for even the slightest breeze, whispering pleasantly in your ear. The sound of a breeze through the treetops can be equally as soothing.
Want something a little more melodic? Bring your favorite music outside, and we don’t mean on your headphones. Outdoor speakers are weatherproof and can be installed unobtrusively, or you can choose from a multitude of options disguised as natural elements like garden stones.
You can listen to your favorite tunes as they seem to magically emanate from your landscape, without blocking out the rest of the wonderful sounds around you.
4. Engage Your Senses With Fragrance
When planning your relaxing back yard oasis, the more of your senses that you can engage, the better. Water and wildlife bring pleasant sounds. Beautiful plantings give you visual delight. Soft cushions and pillows are soothing to the touch.
And fragrance is the all-natural aromatherapy that will round out this multi-sensory perfection.
You can get fragrance from your choice of blooms, some of which may be more potent during daytime, others during evening hours. You can even introduce more subtle scents with greenery, grasses and even mulch. For a fragrant and delicious option, try planting an herb garden.
In fact, scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers. Have you ever caught a whiff of something baking and been transported back to childhood? Or got a hint of salt air and recalled a joyful vacation with family?
Scent can have a big impact on how you feel in your space, so choose those that bring you peace, relaxation and joy.
It’s Time To Choose Your Happy Place
Relaxation means different things to different people. Some prefer to be active, others want to crawl into a hideaway. For some, spending hours tending a vegetable garden is pure perfection. Others would rather be skewered and grilled than pick up a spade, but the idea of lounging poolside brings a tremendous sense or serenity.
It’s entirely up to you. When you think of relaxing, when you envision your own personal oasis, what do you see? It may include designated areas to enjoy what you love most – gardening, cooking, reading, birdwatching. It may include certain colors, certain plantings. It may stir visions of a romantic hideaway, a garden gazebo, a cozy fire pit.
Consider other, more conceptual elements, like whether you want your space to require less mowing, or be more drought-tolerant. It’s going to be harder to look at your yard as a relaxing oasis if all you ever really see are the weeds that need to be pulled, or if you’re constantly aggravated about deer eating your plants.
Avoid anything that adds unexpected stressors. Plants that you may be allergic to, or that you worry about the family dog eating. Scents that irritate or become cloying after a while. Even the most gorgeous flowering plant in the world can be a source of stress if it does nothing but attract insects that land in your lemonade.
This is *your* happy place – and your chance to dream of what that means to you.
If you’re spending more time at home than usual and you’re ready to take on your dream space, contact us for a consultation. Tell us how you like to relax, and let’s work together to build an outdoor oasis just for you.