As we spend more time at home we also spend more time in our backyards. Or we should! Your garden and alfresco living space could be a seamless extension of your home as a place to relax, unwind and just be. Here are some key things to think about when designing your ultimate outdoor sanctuary.
1. Create a little mystery
A sanctuary is not a sanctuary unless it’s private. Screening plants take years to grow, so planting those should be one of the first things on your to-do list once you move into your new home – particularly if you don’t have the budget for mature plants. Are there any neighbouring properties, street views or even glimpses into your own home that you want to obscure? How about traffic noise to muffle? You’ll want to add privacy without blocking too much natural light or taking up too much space. Evergreen hedges and tall, slimline plants like bamboo are classic choices but also think about fence extensions, designer screens, pergolas or even digging key living spaces into the ground so that they sit lower beneath the fence-line.
2. Pick a focal point
Adding a showcase feature to your garden can, with smart positioning, draw the eye and make your garden feel extra spacious. And as a bonus, it can make for a conversation piece! Take care not to overwhelm your space however. If you have a large yard and a decent budget your focal point could be a sunken fire pit with built in seating, a pretty gazebo or a micro-orchard. For smaller yards, think about placing a sculpture, a mural or mosaic, or an eye-catching exotic shrub at the furthest part of your garden. Then design around your focal point, ensuring paths and other garden beds encourage visitors to look and wander in that direction.
3. Just add water
The sight, sound and feeling of water is undeniably soothing. If you can’t fit in a pool or the resultant upkeep, how about adding a decorative pond with fish or flowers, a fountain (there are lots of modern designs available these days) or a wall-mounted water feature? A bird bath is another option, but attaining serenity with this one may vary depending on your level of fondness for the squawking of cheeky rainbow lorikeets.
4. Build for comfort
Living a relaxed outdoor lifestyle in Melbourne is largely weather dependent. Your outdoor sanctuary will need to have elements of shade, light and warmth. Look for options that can do double-duty and easily change throughout the seasons depending on your needs. Think about deciduous plants, retractable awnings and shade cloths and large umbrellas, and about positioning seating and shelters so that they face away from the sun at the peak of the day.
5. A luxurious finish
The best kind of luxury is personal. Daydream about what would make your own garden the ultimate sanctuary – and just go for it! If you love to feed people, a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, BBQ smoker or pizza oven might be the thing for you. How about a little yoga or meditation deck in one corner with built-in audio system to play relaxing sound-scapes? Perhaps luxury to you is time to yourself over a huge latte. So popping in an engaging cubbyhouse to distract the kids for a while is your ideal. A hammock, swinging chair or even a private reading (or podcasting) nook are always welcome in the garden. Remember, our Home Starter bonus could make it happen.
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