11 Ways to Create a More Relaxing Backyard

hammock in garden
Secluded hammock in peaceful garden. Francois De Heel/Getty Images
  • 01 of 12

    Transform Your Yard Into an Oasis

    french doors open to patio
    French doors open to beautiful patio. Jo-Ann Richards/Getty Images

    No matter the size, backyards are meant to be a source of enjoyment and refuge--a place in which to escape when you want to unwind, relax, and have fun.

    Is your outdoor space more a place you want to get away from than an enticing getaway? A yard cluttered with too much patio furniture, outdoor structures (like gazebos), and children's play equipment is going to appear chaotic. In fact, you might find yourself trying to avoid the backyard if there's too much stuff, you find it difficult...MORE to move around, or there is always a project calling out your name.

    Clear the Clutter

    Rethink the yard by clearing out the clutter, pruning overgrown trees and hedges, relocating play equipment, or donating it if your children are too old for slides and swings. Get rid of or recycle broken furniture and accessories or things that don't seem to belong in the yard.

    Starting with as clean or bare of a slate as possible, assess your yard for elements it needs to make it a place you want to get away to; a refuge for kicking back and relaxing or enjoying the things you love, like swimming, working out, or eating with friends and family.

    An outdoor living space has much potential and can provide sun, shade, views and fresh air. Enjoy all it has to offer, and consider the following ways to transform your space when transforming it into an oasis.

    Continue to 2 of 12 below.
  • 02 of 12

    Take Advantage of a View

    deck with view of ocean
    Woman sitting on deck with view of ocean. Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images

    If you are lucky enough to live in a home with a view, don't be shy about creating a space from which to enjoy the scenery. When designing for a view, consider the following:

    • Don't block the view with trees and hedges
    • Likewise, don't block the view with outdoor furniture
    • Landscaping should blend in with the neighboring view and environment,  not compete with it.
    • Frame the view with landscaping and furnishings.
    Continue to 3 of 12 below.
  • 03 of 12

    Comfortable Seating

    man and boy relaxing on deck
    Man and boy relaxing on outdoor deck. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    Seating is one thing, but a deep seating set, lounge chairs, loungers, or chaise lounges really allow you to stretch out and relax, whether it's under an umbrella, by a swimming pool, on a deck, or even on the balcony of a high-rise apartment building.

    If the seating is comfortable, you're more likely to kick back and spend some time outside, rather than sit down, say, at a patio dining table, eat a grilled burger, then go back inside. How about adding a hammock for some serious relaxation?

     

    Continue to 4 of 12 below.
  • 04 of 12

    A Water Feature

    beautiful stone fountain
    A beautiful stone fountain on pedestal. RASimon/Getty Images

    The perfect water feature in a yard is a private swimming pool, which cools you off, allows you to exercise all within the privacy of your own yard. Even the sight and sound of water has a calming, restorative effect. If your budget or space does not permit, consider these other water features:

    • Garden pond
    • Koi pond
    • Wading pool
    • Fountain
    • Birdbath
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    A Hot Tub

    mature woman soaking in spa
    Woman soaking in spa. Leon Harris/Getty Images

    What could be more relaxing and soothing than a soak in a hot tub? Whether it is a tub for two or a larger spa that can accommodate six, hot water and bubbles epitomize relaxation.

    Continue to 6 of 12 below.
  • 06 of 12

    Shade

    relaxing under an umbrella
    A couple relaxes in their yard under an umbrella. Franz Aberham/Getty Images

    Sure, an umbrella provides much-needed shade. But the sight of one conjures up images of a vacation at a resort, on a sandy shore or next to a  pool. There's something about its round shape, projected above the other pieces of outdoor furniture, that looks fun and inviting, beckoning you to sit under its colorful form (or patterned or striped) and relax, maybe sip a cocktail or icy beverage. 

    Ways to create shade in a garden include:

     

    Continue to 7 of 12 below.
  • 07 of 12

    The Right Landscaping

    tropical landscaping by pool
    Evergreen, tropical landscaping near pool. Blend Images/Trinette Reed/Getty Images

    Not just any landscaping, however. Carefully planned and selected plants that look natural in their setting can really set a theme or mood, even transport you to a favorite vacation spot. Who wouldn't want to step outside every day to a yard that reminded them of that trip to Maui, Tahiti or Sedona?

    The key is to choose plants that adapt well to the environment in which you live: dying tropicals in your desert locale will not remind you of Aruba. Mix natives for your region with trees,...MORE shrubs, vines and perennials that are adapted to the climate—usually something that can be found at your local nursery or botanical garden shop. Enlist professional help from a landscape designer, or ask for suggestions from a garden store employee or the local university's master gardener program.

    Great Landscaping Ideas for $3k or Less

    Continue to 8 of 12 below.
  • 08 of 12

    Design a More Inviting Patio or Deck

    mixed materials patio
    A patio with pea gravel and flagstone. Clive Nichols/Getty Images

    A slab of concrete with a few plastic chairs and a charcoal grill just won't cut it. Create a space that beckons you to leave the warm nest of your den for a plant-filled, private oasis in your own backyard. Make a patio a place where you would want to spend time, perhaps relaxing in the sun, practicing yoga, reading, hanging out with friends—whatever your pleasure. Consider adding personal touches that make it uniquely yours.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Create Privacy

    bamboo in yard
    A privacy wall of of living bamboo and other tropical plants. Francois De Heel/Getty Images

    Privacy is an integral part of a relaxing outdoor room. Dividing and secluding the area with carefully placed screens, walls or fences of suitable height will give your space a sense of mystery and surprise as you move throughout the landscape. Arbors and overhead roofs also add to that feeling of seclusion and provide necessary shade.

    Continue to 10 of 12 below.
  • 10 of 12

    Add Fire

    modern chairs by fire pit
    Chairs by fire pit in gravel. Jeremy Samuelson/Getty Images

    A fire pit, chiminea, or fireplace instantly adds warmth to your yard, especially during the cooler months or in the evening. What can be more relaxing than talking with friends or family next to a fire, or cuddling with a partner as you stare at the flames?

    With so many portable fire pit models available at reasonable prices, it's easy to create a sitting area around a pit. Just make sure it's not near any structures, under a roof, or on top of a wooden deck.

    Continue to 11 of 12 below.
  • 11 of 12

    Add Fragrant Plants

    iceberg climbing roses
    White 'Iceberg' climbing roses. T.Kiya/Getty Images

    Sure, you can use scented candles outdoors, but why not plant the real thing? The intoxicating scents of flowering shrubs and vines are especially strong in the evening, so choose specimens that you can grow near outdoor seating or dining areas.

    Continue to 12 of 12 below.
  • 12 of 12

    Lighting

    patio lighting at night
    lluminated patio at night. Astronaut Images/Getty Images

    Outdoor lighting—the right kind and placed to illuminate parts of the yard that experience activity in the evening—will lure you and guests outdoors and keep you there for as long as you desire.