If ever there was a time to put some love into your backyard, it is now. In fact, science tells us that we really don’t need an excuse. Communing with the outdoors is proven to lower stress and increase positivity. And it has physical benefits too. Our interaction with nature lowers blood pressure, relieves tension, and even lowers your heart rate.
Whether you have a small yard or a large one, creating the ultimate outdoor escape is a breeze when you follow a few simple steps. As you begin to plan and design your space, envision how it can be warm, comforting, and inviting. And even if you already have an outdoor area that you love, you can always take it up a notch.
Create Your Dream Backyard Oasis in Four Steps
1) Build a deck
The first thing you want to do is measure the area you have. Keep in mind space for sitting areas, cooking areas, and walkways, while considering what will be reserved for grass, plants and trees. A general rule is two to one. So keep about two parts of the space natural to one part for design.
Next, work through some questions. What will you do there? Do you want to host cookouts and cocktail parties, or simply kick back and relax? The answers to these questions will inform the layout of your deck, such as if you want an area to grill.
Research shows that adding a raised platform, porch, or deck to your outside space can increase your home’s resale value, as well as your enjoyment. Decide what type of deck will work best for you. Real wood is a natural fit that blends seamlessly with nature, but other materials, like manufactured wood can be easier to take care of. This Old House has an excellent review of typical materials for outdoor decks.
If you’re not quite ready for a fullblown deck, there are other features you can use for a similar effect. An area filled with gravel or stones is a great way to set out some lounge chairs and a fire bowl. A walkway adds charm to any outdoor enviroment and these can be made of wood, stone pavers, or pebbles.
Once you have a sketch in place, Home Depot or Lowe’s can assist you with all the building details.
2) Furnish the space
Whether you want to relax or entertain (or both), there are dozens of options. Reclining adirondak chairs or a couple sleek chaise lounges are a classic pick. And outdoor dining sets provide another place for dinner and barbecues.
If your deck is open to the elements, an umbrella or tent can offer some shade on sunny days. Or add coverage while keeping the feeling open with a charming wooden pergola or arbor.
And don’t forget the decor. A consistent neutral color scheme is calming and can be punctuated with pops of color from pillows, throws and lanterns. Keep in mind that candles can also double as insect repellant.
3) Landscape your surroundings
Enjoy the spoils of nature with a range of plants, trees and elements that interest you. Some things to consider are privacy, location (what grows near you), and focal points like flowering trees.
Taller trees or an herb-laden trellis can create privacy for you when needed. You can use indigenous plants to your area that will likely be easier to care for. Flowering trees like weeping cherry and dogwood add beauty as seasons change. Flowerbeds create visual interest with pops of color, and textural elements like gravel and riverstones are effective ways to define the area. You can also use bark or stones to create negative space and patterns for plants. Feng shui recommends building in elements that enliven the senses, like aroma (roses and herbs) and sound (running water or a bird feeder). Plants that attract butterflies or sprout produce capture the imagination of the little ones too.
4) Outdoor lighting
Finally, take your oasis to its pinnacle with outdoor lighting design. Lighting is the finishing touch that pulls everything together. You will enliven the space for all hours of the day, and come to anticipate sunset. There are a multitude of options for each kind of space. You may prefer creative lantern lighting, spotlighting, or string lighting, or some combination of each. This romantic element will allow you, your family, and friends to enjoy your outdoor space to its fullest. Make sure to contact L&L Outdoor Lighting for a free consultation on all your options.