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Perfect home retreat corner

REAL ESTATE
By Hosea Omole | September 8th 2016
Find a spot that is physically farthest from any of the other more public activities in the backyard. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

In addition to a deck or patio large enough to accommodate the whole family and guests, you may want to have another smaller, more intimate area, tucked away somewhere in your backyard. A space where you can retreat once in a while or get away from the crowd and view your garden from a different vantage point.

A corner where you can sit or lay alone as you enjoy your copy of Home & Away or some other interesting read.
Creating such private, intimate spaces outdoors requires a bit of forethought and creativity, especially in the light of the ever-increasing density of our neighbourhoods.

Here are a few ideas to help you turn a corner of your backyard into the perfect retreat for your personal quiet time.

Privacy

While privacy is an important consideration in all gardens, it assumes even greater significance when you are creating an intimate space. It goes beyond being invisible to ogling neighbours.

The space must literally shut out the rest of the world and embrace its user. It must also focus attention inwards and elicit reflection and tranquillity.

It all starts by choosing the right location to set up. Find a spot that is physically farthest from any of the other more public activities in the backyard. Corners typically work best. If the space is more than five or so metres in diameter, you may want to reduce it to just three.

Large spaces tend to appear open and impersonal. Next, you will need to cut out your private garden room from the rest of the garden by creating some sort of a barrier.

Fortunately, there are many solutions to attractively do this. Strategically located evergreen trees and shrubs are inexpensive and effective. They screen view and soften any hardscapes in the vicinity.

For smaller spaces, you could go for trellises with appropriate vines trained to ramble over them.

Garden structures

You can go further and invest in a garden structure that will really enhance your private garden room. A gazebo makes an attractive and functional addition to any backyard.

Sheltered from the elements and enclosed by garden walls and a roof, it can be used for an intimate, romantic dinner for two or cocktails for small groups.

A good gazebo will offer the comfort of being indoors while still giving you that irreplaceable feeling of being out in the garden surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Few garden structures are as relaxing to sit in as an arbour.

Set in a private garden room and surrounded by flowers, butterflies and chirping birds it creates a great space for one or two to sit for hours in the garden. They are also great reading structures when installed with the right seating.

Furniture

It’s important to complete your private garden room with some comfortable garden furniture. Go for something cosy that you can sit on with your feet up or lay on when you need to. A hammock is an ideal addition for total relaxation. It can be the freestanding type supported by a metal frame or the type that hangs between two trees or poles.

In any case, laying in a shaded hammock surrounded by flowers will give you a sense of being one with the garden. You may also want to provide warm and friendly lighting and a heater if you wish to use your retreat into the night.

— The writer is a landscape architect.

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Feature: Homes First

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