Luxurious accents, inviting lounge areas and twinkling lights help make a backyard feel like a vacation spot.
Imagine stepping into an outdoor space and seeing a swaying hammock, glowing garden lights and bold tropical foliage, and hearing the sound of water trickling from a fountain. Can you already feel yourself sinking into vacation-relaxation mode?
While a trip to a far-off resort is a luxurious splurge, with a handful of design moves, your backyard can become a daily oasis designed just for you. Take cues from high-end resorts for furniture choices and arrangement, but select the combination of design elements that speaks to how you like to relax and unwind. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
1. If relaxing in the evening is one of your favorite ways to enjoy an outdoor space, adding soft outdoor lighting can transform your backyard into a dreamy, resort-style retreat. The designer of this backyard used hanging lanterns, spotlights on trees, downcast wall lights and the flicker of a gas fire pit to create a magical evening ambience.
3. Rethink typical seating. Standard dining chairs are great for pulling up around an outdoor table, but there’s something about a lounge, poof or hanging swing that encourages extreme relaxation.
Look for pieces that are comfortable while also attractive enough to act as focal points across the yard. Try pool lounges that are designed to be half submerged in the water or allow for dipping your toes.
Here, globe-shape accent chairs set a beach club vibe and encourage you to sink in and put your feet up.
5. Play up a pool with resort-style accents. Decorative umbrellas, colorful throw pillows and stylish furniture turn a standard poolside into an at-home resort. If you’ve chosen a theme or color palette for your backyard, the pool area is a great place for it to play out. Choosing furnishings, linens and umbrellas in a fresh color palette — as was done in this Palm Springs, California, backyard — is a great place to start.
Even just rolling up fresh towels and stashing them in a poolside basket can help a pool space feel more resort-like.
7. Get a tropical look with plants. If “resort” makes you think of the tropics, you may like to incorporate some tropical-looking plants into your landscape design. Go big and bold with color and scale.
In this garden in Surrey, England, the designers used a mix of small palms, ornamental grasses, strappy New Zealand flax (Phormium sp., USDA zones 8 to 11; find your zone) and bright-colored flowers to create a tropical feel around the back deck — achieving the look in the far-from-tropical English climate.
Other plants that will give your mild-climate garden a tropical look include Kniphofia (pictured here with New Zealand flax in the English garden), bamboo, bird of paradise (Strelitzia sp.), canna, bougainvillea, shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet, zones 9 to 11) and Kahila garland-lily (Hedychium gardnerianum,zones 8 to 10).