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My Backyard Retreat

Updated on June 12, 2016

Let's face it most of us live stressful lives. I know I do. Whenever I have some spare time I tend to gravitate towards the outdoors, more specifically my own backyard.

It is here where I find myself most at peace and often sit down in my own little corner and relax while I sip my favorite beverage or coffee.

Creating your own backyard retreat is easier than many might think and in a space of about 10' by 15' you can have a pretty good size retreat full of flowers that not only will let you admire nature but offer you some time to unwind and gaze upon the many species of butterflies and honey bees as well as birds if you include bird feeders or water elements.

My own space features many species of flowering plants and bushes, a water pond with several fish, a water element for the birds, some candles to create atmosphere and it is secluded enough to allow me to disappear if I wanted to.

Start by selecting a location that receives Sun and has no large trees around it since most plants require some degree of daily sunshine. Select plants according to color, size and purpose.

Some of the ones that I feature are porterweed (Stachytarphetta sp),milkweed (Asclepias spp),pentas (Pentas lanceolata), orange marmalade (Crossandra infundibuliformis), golden shrimp plant (Pachystachys lutea), lantana (Lantana camara), Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana), red stem orchid (Epidendrum) and a must have if you love butterflies, passion vine or passaflora (Passiflora incarnata), peace lily (Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum).

Bushes to create some shadowy areas as well as to attract winged creatures. Some of the ones that I have are firebush (Hamelia patens),cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis), glory bush (Tibouchina lepidota) and Skyflower (Duranta repens).

Ferns to create ground cover and add some accents like, oak leaf fern (Drynaria quercifolia), hammock fern (Blechnum appendiculatum) and heart leaved self-heading philodendron/money plant (Epipremnum Scindapsus).

Keep in mind that some plants are known by different common names in different parts of the country. Always use the scientific name when searching.

Plant according to size with the tallest ones against a fence or back and the smaller ones towards the front. Bushes should go in corners and be aware of the light and watering requirements for each plant species.

Do not plant a water loving plant next to a variety that does not do well in moist soil and likewise plants that require a lot of light should not be mixed next to ones that do better in partial light conditions.

For best results I use perennials since I do not want to keep replacing annuals each growing season.

View of water container for birds and a garden figurine

Seating and view of stepping stones

I also put a prefabricated plastic pond which I surrounded with native rocks and some store bought stones for the effect that splashing water creates as well as to attract birds.

The fish were obtained at a local pet shop for about 10 for a dollar. These are usually called feeder fish since they are used to fish other fish species.

Note on keeping pond fish: you can seldom use tap or city water due to its high content of bleach and other chemicals. Either buy enough liquid dechlorinator to use when filling and re-filling the pond, don't use fish at all or use well water. My yard has a pump operated pump since in Florida you can find groundwater almost anywhere at a usual depth of about 10 to 15 feet.

They start small but mine are bout 6 inches by now and weight about 1/2 pound each. Care must be taken to only have enough that can live comfortably in the the space provided and I have 7 of them at this time.

A comfortable canvas chair and a diy small circular table for my beverage were the finishing touches that made this space my own personal retreat.

At first the area might look sparse and not cozy or private enough but as the plants grow, especially the bushes, this changes. I started my garden about 2 years ago and ever so often add some smaller plants. It takes some time but it is well worth it.

My small retreat also features a surrounding fence made from plastic yard enclosure since I have two large (sometimes obnoxious) German shepherds and in the beginning they loved to go explore (and often destroy) my garden plants.

The walking space is made from garden stepping stones and gravel although mulch will work just as well too.

Fish pond and seating area

Table top is the cover from a five gallon paint bucket.
Table top is the cover from a five gallon paint bucket.

My second space.Some starter plants are barely visible now but will add accents in a few months

If you want to go a bit more Spartan then you can go much simpler by making a square or rectangle with some 2 by 4's wooden studs to line or mark the ground are that you want to designate, add some yard stepping stones and complete by spreading mulch.

Add some lawn chairs, some candles, maybe some potted plants and perhaps even a wind chime and you have a more open but still relaxing area in which to seek refuge from the daily tolls.

Don't forget to include some solar garden lights for the added atmosphere. Not a must but they do come in handy when entertaining guests at night.

I also have an adjacent alternate area that looks much simpler but still allows me to relax or entertain guests when the occasion warrants it

Depending on your local weather and how much space you count on other things that you may want to include would be a small fire pit and some ceramic figures like garden gnomes.

My plant selection

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Porter WeedFirebushPentasMilkweedPassion Flower CCOGolden Shrimp PlantOrange MarmaladeMexican Petunia Honeysuckle CCOGlory Bush/Purple Glory Geisha Girl FernBasket Fern Plant stem orchid lily
Porter Weed
Porter Weed | Source
Firebush | Source
Pentas | Source
Milkweed | Source
Passion Flower
Passion Flower | Source
Lantana CCO
Lantana CCO | Source
Golden Shrimp Plant
Golden Shrimp Plant | Source
Orange Marmalade
Orange Marmalade | Source
Mexican Petunia
Mexican Petunia | Source
Cape Honeysuckle CCO
Cape Honeysuckle CCO | Source
Glory Bush/Purple Glory
Glory Bush/Purple Glory | Source
Skyflower/ Geisha Girl
Skyflower/ Geisha Girl | Source
Hammock Fern
Hammock Fern | Source
Basket Fern
Basket Fern | Source
Money Plant
Money Plant | Source
red stem orchid
red stem orchid | Source
Peace lily
Peace lily | Source


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      cat on a soapbox: thank you. Glad you liked it!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Luis,

      This is an excellent hub with all your great ideas and instructions. I absolutely love your space! Happy new year:)

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      purl3agony: thank you very much

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      5 years ago from USA

      I love your beautiful retreat! I don't think I would ever leave. You've certainly given me some ideas about creating my own oasis in my backyard. Thanks for sharing your beautiful backyard and photos!


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