Does the arrival of springtime have you gazing out at your backyard, wondering how to make it more exciting? Something about undefined space leaves us not knowing where to start. Sure, you can just place some patio furniture out on the dirt and call it a day, but a truly satisfying garden can be so much more than a place to sit. So before you go spend lots on money planting exotic, high maintenance trees and a field of water sucking grass, here are a few ideas to consider:
- Privacy: Nothing disturbs your outdoor zen fantasy like watching your neighbor as they watch you. So unless you have an unobstructed 180º ocean view, everyone will be much happier if you plant some large trees to make you less aware of each other. Fast growing privacy trees include podocarpus, ficus and bamboo.
- Shelter: Sitting in the middle of a large open space usually does not feel quite as nice as nestling into a covered patio, below festive lighting and beside a pretty wall, covered with vines. Think of how to create sheltered spaces that feel safe and contained, and also shelter you from the sun or rain.
- Elevation: Create separate spaces with changes in height. A sunken seating area off a raised deck, framed by tall shade trees and low shrubs and creates an appealing and complex environment that activates curiosity and invites interaction.
- Shapes: Introduce geometric structure with planter beds, fire rings or square pavers, and contrast them with curved paths, and organic forms like boulders or soft mid height grasses.
- Repetition: The recurrence of specific elements at intervals throughout your space unifies and connects the space, making it feel more sophisticated. Choose a narrow range of 3-4 favorite plants and use them in multiple locations, or reuse a structural element, like a certain shape, color or material, to pull the design together and create a more deliberate look.
- Primal Elements: Appeal to the senses with elements of fire, water, sound and scent. A breeze flowing across a fragrant bush; the sound or sight of flowing water; the warmth and smell of a fire pit; these are elements that activate our senses and promote a sense of well being.
- Even if you mostly look out at your yard as a buffer between you and the rest of the world; a space that holds back the city surrounding you, give your eye some destinations to land on. Create pathways for your imagination to follow, and places for it to land, like a brightly flowering bougainvillea, a birdhouse, or a waterfall.
- Seating: And yes, you should also probably put out something to sit on.