A backyard should add more to your life than stress, dirt, and grass. If you are one of thousands of homeowners who step off your deck into an overrun and unwelcoming wasteland, donít despair. With a little ingenuity and a fresh look at your resources, you may just find a gateway to relaxation right outside your back door. Begin with these designing baby steps toward your own personal oasis.
1. Stroll the Perimeter
In order to find relaxing space in an unlikely place, you need to go look for it. And before you begin, youíll have to stop. Take a moment to intentionally set down all preconceived notions and frustrations about your yard. Look past the annoyances; see your landscape with someone elseís eyes. Walk around. Try to look at the overall space like a realtor or guest would see it. Change your point of view. What do you see? As you walk, take notes. Start simple. Look for areas that may contain relaxing components -- like a small garden or birdbath. Search out level spaces that can be altered to accommodate personal space with comfortable seating like a patio rocking chair or table.
2. Define your Uses
How do you dream of using your yard? Think outside the box. Imagine different areas of activity around your yard. Think of your favorite backyard activities and ways to chill out. Make a list. Your list should reflect your lifestyle. Your lifestyle will determine if you need areas for dining, playing, sitting, gardens, or pets.
3. Be Honest
Not everybody loves to watch Home and Garden TV 24/7. If yard maintenance is not your thing, plan accordingly. Choose low-maintenance elements like shrubs, mulch cover, and permanent edging to free up your weekends and lighten your to-do list.
However, if you enjoy working outside and tending the flowers, go ahead and add perennial or vegetable garden spaces. If weeding means de-stressing, go for the gardens! Itís important to be honest about your personal preferences in order to create an environment that is realistic in maintenance and low on your stress level.
4. Draw it Out
Put your dream on paper. Use graph paper and pencil, or mouse and computer, to turn your thoughts into a relaxation reality. Work within your yard space and budget to integrate your Ďareasí into an environment that flows. Partner with a friend to help you think creatively. Consider linking your areas and adding the illusion of space by installing natural pathways. Design a winding walk to a small private, tucked away oasis. Isolate pet mess areas. Whatever you choose, pull it all together in a grand plan and keep it in an accessible folder for future reference.
5. Bring in Nature
Natural elements can soothe a stressful day. Birds, butterflies and honeybees are usually quiet guests that bring color, surprise, and delight. Plant flowers like butterfly bushes, liatris, bee balm or coneflower to attract hummingbirds and honey bees. Hang bird feeders in visible spots where you can enjoy the variety and number of winged visitors. Situate a birdbath where the splashing can be heard. Each choice to encourage nature should enhance your backyard experience.
6. Consider the Sun
Where does the sun shine? If your yard sits in full blaring sun all day long, it is crucial to reproduce shade with trees, deck roofing or umbrellas on patio tables. Full shade brings cool relaxing, and a sometimes an uncomfortable chill. Think about all day and year round comfort. Build your plan accordingly.
Use natureís white noise to create an otherworldly experience. Utilize the wind and add the musical quality of a hanging chime. The trickle of water has a calming spa-like affect. A high quality outdoor music system can also boost the mood with music. If neighborhood noise is a distraction, consider adding sound barrier elements like strategically planted evergreen trees.
8. Share the Fun
Open it up for friends and family. If you have the square footage and the desire, create areas for eating or play. If kids are a priority at your house, make sure their space is open for safe, fun playtimes. Swing sets, enclosed trampolines, slides or covered sand boxes are classic and timeless favorites that earn their keep in kid-time spent outdoors instead of in front of the television. Outdoor fun can also include a barbeque patio, or grill on the deck. If your sense of play includes a meal with friends, make sure you leave space for good eats.
9. Have a Seat
Backyard furniture is a must for your relaxation space. It means the difference between sitting or standing, engaging or observing. Look for a comfortable, quality table and chairs. Hammocks, benches and swings work well on decks and between trees. Rocking chairs and patio gliders are excellent beside the garden for a rest spot or tucked in an alcove for reading, napping or meditating.
10. Get Outside
There is no use for a space that goes unused. Determine to make your relaxing yard into a lifestyle not a showpiece. Now that your yard is more than a grass lot, make it work for you. Use your reclaimed oasis to enhance the quality of life by intentionally make time to get outside, engage with fresh air, and raise your level of well-being.
Kimberly Aardal, publisher of EveryDayRockingChairs.com is passionate about living life to the fullest. She resides in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado with her husband and yellow lab named Ginger. Together they spend a great deal of time hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and exploring quaint mountain towns. Kimberly knows the value of slowing down and relaxing in her porch rocking chair and has made a business of helping others do the same. She writes industry reviews of rocking chairs and enjoys a wide variety of rocking relaxation in the form of rocker gliders, indoor rocking chairs and more.