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How to Create An Outdoor Landscape

Just a few extra elements will turn an ordinary patch of grass into an exceptional backyard retreat.

Written by Elizabeth Millard
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Imagine your ultimate log home. The thought usually conjures up images of exposed beams, vaulted ceilings and, of course, that to-die-for fireplace. But for most people in love with the log home lifestyle, outdoor enjoyment is as much a part of your dream home experience as those coveted log walls are. Don’t forget to contribute part of your imagination to inventing the ideal outdoor oasis. Creating a designated area that’s a small portion of your property — as opposed to full-on backyard landscaping — can be hugely valuable as a way to add a little low-cost/high-impact sanctuary to your space. Here are six tips for making it happen:

1. Focus on reflection, not activity

When a small parcel of land is considered a sanctuary, it often feels like a meditative garden or quiet wooded area. Resist the temptation to load it up with activity-focused features like a BBQ grill, outdoor games or children’s playground.

2. Create a path

Some homeowners like their outdoor oasis to have a spiral walkway, which they use as a meditation tool. You also can create a winding path made of materials like flat river rocks.

3. Use natural elements

While steel and railroad ties have their place in grading and retaining your grounds, an outside sanctuary tends to be infused with nature-inspired and derived elements. That might mean benches made from tree trunks split down the middle or hammocks made of natural hemp rope.
 

4. Get Made in the Shade

Planting canopy trees will create cover from the sun. Can’t wait for the trees to mature? Simple arbors engulfed in climbing vines will provide sunblock in short order. Place a bench beneath the shade and you’ve got a tranquil outdoor reading nook.

5. Work with the land, not against it

Trying to flatten a hillside or eliminate water with tons of soil (literally) could make your space feel artificial. Instead, consider playing with the contours of the land and making the most of what’s already there. For example, if part of the space tends to flood because it’s lower, that seems like the perfect spot for a reflection pool.

6. Go for low maintenance

As much as possible, choose native plants, particularly grasses and wildflowers. No matter your region, native plants are great for conditions ranging from drought to flooding. Flowers will attract pollinators, bringing butterflies and honeybees into your sanctuary area, as well as smaller critters.
 

Keep in mind that an oasis should be about enjoyment and peace, not a bunch of work on top of other landscaping chores. Make it into a place that you look forward to visiting, and it will be a true sanctuary space.