Six tips for creating a cozy garden hideaway in your yard

You'll really enjoy relaxing outdoors when you create a cozy hideaway in your yard. Here are six tips to make your planning become reality.

Courtesy of Betty Earl
A sense of height is important even in a small hideaway. With the addition of a white pergola as well as hanging baskets, comfy Adirondack chairs, and containers bursting with plants, this quiet corner has been transformed into a cozy hideaway.
Courtesy of Betty Earl
A sense of seclusion is important in any retreat, more so when it's next to a leading pathway. Side yards often are afterthoughts, places you pass through as you’re heading to or from the backyard. But with a little imagination and a leafy surround, you can turn it into a hidden retreat.

There’s something very appealing about escaping to a charming, quiet spot in your own garden where you can sit down to relax, enjoy a book, a cup of coffee, or the morning paper while surrounded by the beautiful textures, sights, and smells of your own yard.

While you can experience any of these things from a lawn chair plopped down in the middle of your backyard, the experience can be greatly enhanced in the comforting seclusion and tranquility of a cozy garden hideaway.

Whether you create a large, elaborate enclosure, or one that is simple, yet cozy, you will certainly treasure your time spent there. So, since the basic goal of any cozy hideaway is to make it a serene place for relaxation, don’t rush the idea. Take the time to think it through and plan accordingly.

Six ideas for creating a garden hideaway

1. Libraries and bookstores have tons of books devoted to the subject of garden design. There are also many gardening magazines that highlight gorgeous private gardens. Studying the pictures in these books and magazines is a great place to start developing ideas for your own garden hideaway.

When something interests you, take notes. In flipping through magazines, keep in mind that one picture is worth a thousand words, so collect pictures that catch your interest, reflect your personality, and allow your sense of fun to come through.

2. Once you’ve developed a clear idea of the overall look and feel you want your hideaway to have, use it imaginatively in choosing the section of your garden. And despite the apparent contradiction, the smaller the hideaway, the more important good design becomes, for a small space can be taken in almost at a glance, and the attention to detail or its neglect, is immediately obvious.

3. Adding an arbor, trellis, or pergola to your cozy garden space will provide privacy and intimacy, give it structure and shape, add the illusion of space, and turn it into a more secluded hideaway.

4. Choose your plants wisely. Hanging plants, plants that climb, or plants that drape are excellent ways to soften edges and create flowing, natural spaces. The use of containers is also important, because they bring life and color to corners that might otherwise remain bare. And if isolated pots seem to lack impact, try grouping them.

Also, don't forget the floor of your garden hideaway. If you have paving slabs or bricks and pavers, there are a number of plants that you can plant in the cracks and crevices that will help you achieve an aged, less-orchestrated look.

5. Add some furniture to your garden hideaway. What you choose to use will be related to how you envision using your hideaway. If you plan on using it alone or with a spouse, comfortable Adirondack chairs might prove winsome. If you have plans to share the space with family members or a few friends, built-in furniture saves space and helps prevent a small area from looking cluttered. Furniture that can easily be moved -- such as a canvas director’s chair -- is very effective and is quick and easy to fold up and store when not in use.

6. Finally, adding some special touches, such as wind chimes or a water feature – things that are not only visually appealing but also therapeutic – will turn your garden hideaway into your favorite place to be!

More advice next to the photos

You'll find more tips for creating a cozy garden hideaway next to the two photos at the top of this page. To see the second one, click on the arrow at the right base of the frist photo.


Betty Earl, the Intrepid Gardener, blogs regularly at Diggin' It. She's the author of 'In Search of Great Plants: The Insider’s Guide to the Best Plants in the Midwest.' She also writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy. To read more by Betty, click here.

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