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Creating a Haven in Our Back Yard

With the disruption in our lives brought on by the current pandemic, most of us have spent more time at our homes than ever before. With that our focus has shifted to home improvement projects.  For many of us, that includes creating a peaceful, inviting outdoor haven for relaxing or entertaining.

Let’s think about our favorite room inside for a moment. We set the mood with a color scheme, and then we decorate the walls and surfaces with things we like.  Lighting is used to create the mood, we have our favorite music, and even burn a candle once in awhile as we sit back in a comfortable chair or couch.  All our senses come into play. 

What could it look like if we carried that same concept to our back yard? Our soon-to-be back yard retreat will be much more enjoyable if we can screen unsightly views such as busy roads or the neighbor that mows the lawn in a Speedo. Noise is another consideration. Think about street traffic and our air conditioners. Plants or a privacy fence can help block views and noise. We can also mask unwanted noise with a set of tuned wind chimes or a bubbling fountain.

Fragrance and movement bring added pleasure to our haven.  Incorporating plants that have sweet scents like gardenias, lavender, roses, and osmanthus will bring a subtle pleasure just like our favorite candle. Soothing movements can be accomplished by planting ornamental grasses and wispy perennials like gaura which sway in the slightest breeze.

Colors play an important role in establishing a mood.  Cool colors such as blues, purples, greens and whites help us create a more serene environment.  Want a lively area bursting with color and excitement? Then we can mix it up by adding in bright reds, yellows and pinks. Along that same line, we should keep our plantings simple and uncluttered, so our eyes can rest.  Using soft textures like ferns, grasses, and thyme aid in creating a relaxing feel.  Some plant textures are even a delight to the touch: the soft fuzziness of lamb’s ear, or the silken petal of a rose.

Our company does not need to be limited to friends and family.  Enjoy watching the birds?  Place a feeder or two within sight, but far enough away that your presence won’t hinder their activity. Butterflies will gladly join us if we are kind enough to provide their favorite food. Fortunate for us there are hundreds of flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals that they love to frequent. A birdbath can be a beautiful accent, as well as a welcome source of water. Even deer and squirrel, though arch-enemy to some gardeners, can be invited to linger with some scattered dried corn.

Including elements that touch all our senses as we plan our back yard retreat can help us create a place of rest and renewal, something  I think we all can use a little more of right now.