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To be perfectly honest, it makes me feel a little bit sneaky heading outdoors to read, but I know it’s good for me. Here are a few suggestions to help you start your own guilt-free backyard retreat.

1 Devote the same careful consideration to outdoor space planning as you might to indoor space planning. You can plunk some furniture into the garden or you can create a private paradise.

2 Position furniture arrangements towards the best view. Face away from the house if possible and put as much distance as possible between you and the book you’re reading and interior distractions.

3 Comfortable seating is essential to any form of relaxation. A highback chair with arms, whether woven, wicker, or wood, cradles the body and soul, and offers an immediate sense of security.

4 Although the majority of outdoor furniture can withstand inclement weather, most will last longer if it is moved to shelter during the winter. For this reason, unless you have an enclosed structure, consider lightweight furniture options such as wicker, resin, and metal frames with woven seats.

5 Add ambient sound such as a trickling water fountain or playful wind chimes to mask city sounds and foster serenity.

6 Provide your private garden reading room with some form of shelter and protection from the wind. Latticework is an excellent option that looks beautiful planted with trailing vines such as Chinese wisteria or climbing roses. For a more contemporary look, fashion a hedge from five-foot tall lengths of bamboo or create a more formal “living screen” by planting a dense row of cedar or hew trees.

7 If your budget allows, build a permanent partial shelter such as a gazebo or arch to provide a focal point in the garden.

8 Consider flower plantings such as rosemary, lilac, and jasmine to infuse surroundings with delicious fragrance.

9 No room, whether indoors or outdoors, can be considered truly personal without the addition of valued objects. A stone sculpture, a mercury gazing ball, a weathered sundial, or an inviting birdbath increase personal satisfaction within your outdoor oasis.

10 Keep frequently used supplies near the entrance to your garden escape. A wicker basket easily holds sunscreen, garden shoes, reading materials, and sunglasses.

Now you can see why my outdoor oasis helps me break out of workweek routines; sometimes they hold far too much obligation and not nearly enough pleasure. Besides no one will miss me for an hour or two, especially if they can’t find me.



Kimberly Seldon