A resort in your own backyard

GREAT GARDENS

A resort in your  own backyard

One can always benefit from a break that takes us away from the daily grind. But to get away does not necessarily mean that one must go away to another location. Often a weekend trip to a resort comes to mind as an easy retreat. What you yearn for is a relaxing, fun environment where you can just relax in the lap of nature. How about making the outdoors at home a stylish and easy place to be in? No matter how large or small the area is, you can have your personal resort right at home. One can follow simple tips to go about converting your yard into a mini-resort.

Create mystery

The biggest draw to any place is mystery, a sense of “hoping to discover.” This may seem daunting to achieve, but a few tricks work well in creating the draw. Never lay the entire space visible to the eye all at once. Create a path of transition or in case of space constraints, install a gate that is kept closed otherwise. Create pleasant meanderings or beautiful obstructions. If space allows, chalk out paths that take you through a longer route rather than the quickest. Flank the paths with depths of vegetation punctuated with interesting curios. Mix some exotic elements along the way. It may be a plant that reminds you of your favourite place or something different from what you come across regularly.  

Limit expanses of hard surfaces. Organic forms and softer vegetation are more inviting than straight lines with harsh surfaces. Choose materials that are easy on the eye and outdoor friendly. Lay paths that are informal both in layout and material. Gravel in smaller stretches, mixed hard and softscape, all discourage speed. It slows down your pace and that of your mind without your conscious knowledge. This is a trick used in the famous Japanese tea gardens. Involve the senses, may be by using cushiony grass between steps or a ground cover interspersed with stepping stones. Whiffs of fragrant flowers or an interesting plant bring in reasons to slow down. Enhance the sense of discovery by altering the width of paths. Narrow paths suddenly opening into a big space or an unexpected attraction, always bring in an element of surprise.  

Include a water element

If possible, include water in the scheme, either as a stream that you may need to cross or small pools where you can sit and contemplate. The sound of water can be an effective draw.  

Interplay of light and shade creates an interest that keeps changing through the day. Create that by erecting arbors or canopies. Depending on how the sun moves around your space and where you prefer to hang out more, determine spots that will allow you to use the space even on a sunny afternoon. Create cosy nooks with sufficient shelter and privacy. Place comfortable seating. If space permits, create an al fresco space which can entertain friends and family over meals. Extend the magic into the night by soft lighting options. Always keep the light source hidden, because all you want to enjoy is the effect.

In large gardens, divide to create separate rooms. Some intimate, others for a group of people.

Divisions can be created by garden structures or suitable planting. Create varying levels of privacy by mixing shrubs and trees. Change in ground level is also a way to bring in the interesting separation without being obvious. Place seating options at vantage points but definitely hidden from the rest of the garden.

For a resort in an urban setting, the most important requirement would be creating privacy. Choose material options that blend into the natural environment that you are trying to achieve or at least can be camouflaged; else it may stand out to rob you from your resort experience. If urban species and birds can be introduced, then you know you have achieved a certain degree of ecological success in your garden. Water bodies attract frogs and turtles while discreet bird feeders and bird baths can be used to draw birds.

Finishing, furniture, furnishing, colour, art and sculpture are elements that will help immensely and dramatically in upgrading your resort experience from a jungle lodge to an exotic one.At the same time, irrespective of what you prefer, one ingredient that is a must is harmony – within the environment and with the environment.

(The author is a landscape designer.)

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