The backyard. A special place, one of retreat, of rest, of steeping away from normal life and into a space that is closer to nature, closer to our passions and the things that truly matter; a little bit of land you can claim as your own and do with what you want.
Here are are five tips to create that ideal place:
1) Think of what you have..
First identify the amount of space and money available. It’s great to have a lot of land available. If you do, use this asset. Think big, you have the space to play and create. If you have only a small space available then don’t worry, if you think creatively then this doesn’t need to hinder you. A small space can create a cosier atmosphere. If you have lots of money then use it to fill the space. If funds are tight then are there are still many things you can do. The backyard is outside so use nature’s abundant free provision to your advantage, plant trees, grow flowers, use the light and shade.
2) Think of what you like..
You want this space to be a place of welcome. So what is important to you? Do you like to be alone? Build a cozy space and fill it with cushions and candles. Want to see the stars? Sling a hammock, keep the lighting low. Love to host? Put in a big central feature that everyone gathers around, a low table or a fire pit, install an ice box to store those cold beers. Live in a cold place? Build a sauna or hot tub. Live in a hot place? Build shade, let the wind blow. Like to read? Make sure there’s books.
3) Build a den..
Every Finn builds himself a sauna, a shelter from the cold winds in which beer is drunk and hockey is discussed. The Danes do hygge’, filling spaces with blankets and candles, brightening up the long Nordic winters. The Hawaiians do luau, using the heat, wind and ocean of their homeland to have massive cookouts in the open air beneath the palms and the stars. Everyone has their passion: civil war memorabilia, basketball, musical theater. What ever it is, build yourself a space where those passions can run free, a space where you can shut the world out or invite it in.
4) Build a wood burning fire pit..
For thousands of years humans have gathered around campfires. Our ancestors did this to cook food, to rest after labors, to hang out and maintain the community and to contemplate great mysteries of life. They were onto something… Cheap to run and safe to use when dug properly in the ground, wood fire pits are a thing of beauty, using nature’s bounty to bring heat, light and togetherness. In our age of technology there is nothing that beats it. This should be the heart of your backyard retreat. Here’s our recommendation of portable pits.
What makes a backyard retreat different from your home is that it is outside. Make sure you keep this connection. In our modern lives we get out into nature less and less, living through our screens and in our sterile car and office environments. Let your retreat be just that, a retreat back into the natural world. Steps away from normal life and back into the older and simpler things, to plants, animals, wind, water, sky, earth and fire.