When people think about paradise, many picture white sandy beaches with clear blue water or a lake surrounded by tall pines. Unfortunately, with today’s travel restrictions, trips to paradise have been put on hold. But who says paradise has to be a faraway place? Why can’t it be in your very own backyard? Well, it can! Converting your backyard into your own personal paradise is the perfect way to get away without ever actually leaving.
While writing this story, I was moving into my very first post-college home with a backyard that had tons of untapped potential. When I was growing up, my parents were always on top of our backyard but this is the first time I have my own outside space that isn’t an apartment balcony or patio. The space was big, basic, and bare — perfect for creating an at-home sanctuary just outside my door. Here is I what did to create my own backyard paradise along with some other neat tips and tricks that might just inspire you to create your own.
Comfy Place to Relax
Having a comfortable place to relax and enjoy your new space is very important, and there are many options from which to choose. For my paradise, I decided to go with a traditional wrought iron table and chairs that will serve as the perfect spot to eat when grilling out and when visiting with friends. I stepped a little outside the traditional box and painted the table and chairs a fun powder blue. I also added a matching blue umbrella for some extra shade.
I couldn’t leave it at just a table and chairs, though. I’ve always wanted a hammock in my backyard, but I have never had space until now. My new yard has two huge pine trees that are perfectly spaced for a hammock, so my dream could finally come true. This is the ideal way to lie back and soak in nature while feeling completely weightless. Floating chairs, bench swings, and even extra-large outdoor bean bags chairs are other fun and unique ideas.
Grass and Plants
Dirt, cement, and pine needle litter do not scream paradise by any means, so I decided that the space needed some life and color. Real grass seemed like a big commitment in the desert, but I still wanted the look of grass. I finally decided on using synthetic turf. Fortunately, I had a friend who gave me some leftover turf, but you can get turf or sod locally from Green Desert Landscaping & Irrigation in Las Cruces or Vazquez Synthetic Grass in west El Paso, or plant grass from seed.
You can also choose to landscape with rocks to give your space an oasis-in-the-desert feel. I utilized large rocks to line the fence, the ground around the pine trees, and for decorating the base of my fountain, which I’ll tell you about in a moment.
Plants are a great way to add more character to your paradise. They can help create the personality you’re looking for. If you want a desert oasis feel, get succulents and other desert plants that are native to New Mexico and pair them with some palm trees. If you are going for a beachy feel, get tropical-looking plants that can survive a dry climate, such as a dragon tree, red bird of paradise (peacock flower), and most of all monsteras — these scream tropical island. For my forest-themed paradise, I decided to use foxtail and asparagus ferns to mimic the tall pine trees and give some more green to the area. I also love how they are trailing plants, so as they grow, they will fill the space beautifully.
Whether you’re on the beach or in the forest, the sounds of crashing waves, running water, or chirping birds make the experience that much greater. Sound is key to really getting into relaxation mode. I decided from the get-go that I wanted a fountain I could listen to while lying in my hammock. Falling water produces negative ions which help release tension and stress. I got a beautiful New Mexico-themed pot, filled the bottom with recycled glass frit from the Las Cruces Recycling Center, and then added a fountain pump, and — voila! — I have the perfect fountain that not only sounds amazing but looks stunning too. There are a variety of sources for fountains if you don’t want to do it yourself.
Wind chimes are also a great way to introduce calming sounds into your space. Wind chimes can be annoying if they have a high pitch, but chimes that give off lower sound frequencies can do the trick. Always listen to the wind chime before you buy it so that you know you will enjoy the sound. Color Your World in Las Cruces has a wonderful selection of wind chimes that can please anyone’s ears, as well as beautiful fountains, pottery, and plants.
Color and Art
Plants and flowers can add color to your paradise, but art is also an amazing way to make the space feel exactly how you want it to feel. It is important to incorporate colors that you enjoy together and that catch your eye. Consider locally made art as your first choice. Look for unique pieces made by people in your area. That way you are supporting local businesses and local artists, and you get a beautiful piece that is unique to you. Who wouldn’t want to have a one-of-a-kind art piece to look at and enjoy every day? With so many local art galleries, you’re sure to find something you’ll love.
My new backyard came with a chalkboard-like canvas on one of the fences so I decided to utilize that for my pop of color and art. I have enjoyed drawing mandalas since I was in high school, so I decided to paint a New Mexico-inspired mandala with the colors of the flag. I plan on changing the painting as it fades and wears away, like a revolving art exhibit. If you aren’t artistic, consider hiring a local artist to create a mural for your backyard paradise.
After all is said and done, I have to say that my backyard forest wonderland is absolutely perfect. What I enjoy most about it is the privacy I have to just relax and soak in nature. Everything about it makes me smile and makes me want to spend time outside in this space. Staying home never felt so good!
Written and photography by Olivia Belcher
Originally published in Neighbors magazine
Posted by LasCruces.com