Tips for creating a garden retreat

22 Oct 2012

Whether you live in a townhouse or free standing home, you can easily create a special space to retreat to in your garden.

Water features are a great addition to a garden as the sound of running water can be very relaxing.

It's easy to forget that a garden is an extension of your home and should therefore reflect your personal taste and style. It should be a place you go to in order to relax and get in touch with nature, after a hard day of traipsing through the concrete jungle of city life.

The size of your garden shouldn’t matter, as you can create a tranquil, peaceful place just about anywhere. First thing to do is review the space and decide what you want to put in it, and where.

Define your space

You can create illusions of space and elegance in a garden quite easily, with the aid of plants and wooden structures. Most properties have fences or walls, but sometimes these do not provide enough privacy for homeowners.

Instead of raising your wall or fence, you can define the space in your garden using hedges or tall planters and creepers. Strategically placed planting can block off any nosy neighbor and to optimise your privacy, try threading the creeper through your fence to encourage it to grow up the wall.

Tip: Help your plants grow up any wall using plastic mesh or a wooden trellis.

To add an interesting look to your garden, try to avoid planting in a straight line. Curves are in, and can really create a ‘flow’ to your garden.

Gazebos and pergolas can create a sense of elegance in a garden and are a great way to get some privacy. Simply add curtains for intimacy.

The curving beds can lead to a focal point, such as a Pergola or free standing gazebo. These can create a sense of elegance in a garden and depending where they are placed, they can also provide privacy. They are great places to place cushions and chairs for relaxing, and you can make curtains to block off any unwanted distractions.

Creating comfort

The outdoor furniture you choose should reflect your style, while being comfortable and practical at the same time. One thing every garden should have is a storage bench. A storage bench allows you to keep any cushions or blankets safe from the elements and provides you with extra seating options.

Cushions, blankets and beanbags make great seating options for the outdoors, as you can place them just about anywhere and are not restricted to sitting on the patio.

Lanterns and fairy lights add a mystical feel to the outdoors, and they look great draped over tree branches.

However, many people opt for more practical outdoor furniture. Most of this is made out of wicker, wood, plastic and metal, and can vary in price.

Tip: You can always spray paint plastic garden furniture in order to make it suit the style of the garden.

Hammocks are great for the outdoors. They can be hung just about anywhere, and dolled up with a few cushions and a blanket to make it the most comfortable outdoor bed imaginable.

If you discover that you can’t hang a normal hammock in your garden, you can buy one that is set up on a frame and stands on the ground. These are just as practical as normal hammocks, but can be more expensive.

Setting the mood

Lighting

Hammocks are an easy, cost effective way to stay comfortable. They are quick to hang and easy to keep clean.

Relaxation is all about creating the perfect 'atmosphere'. Things such as sounds and scents can make or break a place of relaxation. When creating your space, consider the things that make you feel relaxed.

The right lighting is essential. For your garden retreat, you don’t want to go with obvious spotlights, as these are bright and glaring. Softer lights, like fairy LED lights are more energy efficient and charming and they look stunning draped through tree branches and around pillars.

You can use solar powered lights to define pathways and flower beds, as these are not as bright as LED lights. Use light colours like amber or white, or if you prefer to use your personal favourite (and you can get it) then that’s great too. After all, this is your relaxation space.

Scents

A garden is the best place to sit back and relax after a long day. Take the time to appreciate nature and the calmness it brings.

Everyone wants a garden that smells fresh. Plants like Jasmine, Lavender and Honeysuckle have very powerful scents and can permeate a garden easily. Scent is memory based, so if you can, find scents that remind you of happy times.

If finding the desired scented plants is difficult, you can always opt for candles. Scented candles are a great way to create atmosphere and some, like citronella and lavender candles, also deter insects. Yankee scented candles have a variety of scents and sizes and are great because they burn for hours.

Tip: Always remember to blow out candles you are burning before turning in for the night. Only have candles lit when you are present.

Garden décor

There are a variety of things you can do to decorate your garden, without using more plants. Water features are great for adding to the atmosphere of a garden retreat, as running water is a relaxing sound. If you can, try to incorporate a water feature into your garden, as it makes a great focal point and adds a bit of elegance.

Try painting your fence or wall a calming colour, like sky blue or light purple. Avoid painting it green, as your plants will just get lost against the wall. If you have a section of wall that is obvious, and sticks out like a sore thumb, add a mirror or mosaics. Mirrors help expand the space of your garden, and mosaics add an interesting texture to any wall.

Wind chimes and wind spinners are eye catching and interesting. They add a bit of colour and intrigue to the garden. Wind chimes also create a relaxing sound when there is a breeze and can be just as therapeutic as running water.

You don’t need a big garden – or budget – to create a place to relax and regenerate after a long day. All it takes is a little imagination and patience. – Victoria Taylor

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