We talk a lot here on the blog about how to work more efficiently in your garden. We’ve covered the essential tools for every gardener, invasive species to watch out for, and how to keep your soil healthy.
Fascinating as this stuff is, it can seem like it’s all about work, work, work.
We can’t forget that you should also take time to enjoy your garden, to savor the fruits of your labors. One of the best ways to do this is to create a backyard retreat. This is a place that lets you escape from the craziness inside the house, the stress of the day, and even all those gardening blog posts you’re reading. 😉 In other words, it’s somewhere you can take a few moments each day to relax.
Sounds pretty great, right? And it’s not as hard to create as you might imagine. With the right combination of plants, landscaping materials, and creativity, you can build your own backyard retreat in a weekend.
To help you get started, today’s post will give you step by step instructions for building your own backyard oasis.
Step 1: Pick Your Location
The right location can make or break your backyard retreat. Aside from it being in your backyard (or some other secluded part of your property), we recommend somewhere that has a nice mix of sun and shade. That way you can use your retreat for both soaking in the sun in the mornings and cooling off in the shade at the end of the day.
Also, you should choose somewhere that doesn’t get a ton of wind and has well-drained, healthy soil. This may not always be possible, but it will make caring for the plants in your retreat a lot easier.
Step 2: Choose Your Plants
Once you have your location, the next step is to pick your plants. In keeping with the theme of “rest and relaxation,” we suggest plants that are attractive but easy to care for. After all, it won’t be much of a retreat if you have to spend all your free time working on it (save that for your orchids!).
Luckily, Hawaii has a wide selection of native plants perfect for this purpose. They’re hardy, versatile, and don’t require much maintenance.
Here are a few perfect for a backyard retreat:
- ‘A’ali’i – This shrub would make a great base for your garden. It’s name literally means “standing in the wind,” so no worries about it blowing away.
- ‘Ilima Papa – Another plant perfect for ground cover, it has delightful yellow flowers and can tolerate very harsh conditions.
- Pohinahina – This durable plant helps stabilize the soil, grows quickly, and has attractive purple flowers.
Of course, you can always add some other plants of your choosing. If you’re looking to add more color, these edible flowers are a great place to start. And for even more info on native Hawaiian plants, have a look at our post on the “weatherproof warriors.”
Step 3: Select Your Landscaping Materials
Besides plants, the other key ingredient in a backyard retreat is the right landscaping materials. The plants provide the focus, but the landscaping materials give a nice base for everything to (quite literally) rest on.
The exact materials you choose will depend on your project, but in general we recommend:
- Decorative plant pots – These are great for keeping plants from getting too big and for adding some extra pizzazz to your design.
- Rocks and pebbles – The possibilities for these are endless. You can arrange them into paths, use them as a base for your pots, or even paint them to use as decorations.
- Mulch – This helps to keep weeds at bay, which once again saves you extra work.
- Organic compost – This helps to keep your plants beautiful and thriving. And it’s better for the environment than commercial fertilizers.
We’re particularly excited to announce some new decorative pots, pebbles, and river rocks that we now have in stock at the Nursery. These would make a great addition to your design, and you can see some of them below:
Step 4: Sketch Your Design
Even if you don’t consider yourself as an artist, you should take some time to sketch out your design before constructing it.
This will save you time and money in the long run, as it gives you room to play with different configurations. We’d suggest that you measure the space you plan to use to give yourself a rough idea of what will fit.
Then, just sketch it out. It can be rough and basic. All you need is a guide for when you get your materials and start putting everything together.
Some things to keep in mind when creating your sketch:
- Be aware of plant placement – Don’t put sun-loving plants in the shade or plants that can’t tolerate wind in a really exposed area.
- Be conscious of space – Don’t try to cram too many plants or objects into the same area. A well-crafted landscape design takes much of its beauty from negative space.
- Think in three dimensions – It’s easiest to start with an overhead sketch, but remember that your backyard retreat will exist in three dimensions. This means, for example, that plants that fit next to each other in two dimensions might not combine so well in real life.
Don’t stress about it, though. You just need to get a basic idea of what you’re doing before you start buying plants and hauling gravel.
Step 5: Assemble Your Paradise
Now that you have your plan, you can get to the fun part: putting it all together. Head on down to your favorite garden store with a list of the materials you need and pick everything out.
Once you have all your materials, set aside a weekend to put it all together. It might not take that long, but it’s best if you don’t have to rush.
If you have kids, involve them. Even if they aren’t big enough to move materials or use garden tools, they can help out in other ways like making one of these garden projects. What better way is there to get your kids outdoors and moving around?
Finally, keep in mind that you don’t have to build your backyard retreat all at once. If you feel like you need some help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We specialize in backyard installations! You can always start with a basic version and then add things as you go. It will probably always be a work in progress, which is part of the fun!
Building your backyard retreat could be one of the most fun and rewarding gardening projects you work on this year. As we hope you now see, it doesn’t have to be complicated. All it takes is some planning and a bit of hard work.
Do you have a backyard retreat? What did you do to make it amazing? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below!