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Create an affordable outdoor retreat

Creating a separate space in the garden gives you a great getaway for work, hobbies, or just some piece and quiet.


We all need an outdoor retreat - a place to relax and unwind - and it can be done with little money, little space, and just a bit of creativity!

No matter what space you have - It can be a large patio or deck, a corner of the lawn, even a small porch or balcony - If you look hard enough, you can almost always locate a place to make your outdoor haven!

To create a division between the space and the garden, or balcony, you don't need to visit the hardware store - more often than not a few items that you already have can be used to set out boundaries.

Add boundaries

There are so many creative ways to set up your garden retreat. Here are just a few quick and easy ideas...

  • Use paving and concrete paint to outline your area, or look around for rocks, stones or brick left over on construction sites (always ask first!).

  • Go shopping at secondhand stores to look for garden furniture that only needs some TLC.

  • Create benches from a piece of timber laid over concrete blocks.

  • Hang plants to offer partial privacy to your space.

  • Install trellis or a lattice screen planter to section off and create a space.

ideas for decorating outdoor spaces, patio or deck

Use your imagination, and think as you would decorating an indoor space!

Add container plants


Container plants add structure to your outdoor room, as well as accent colour, texture, scent and charm. Buy inexpensive pots at your local garden centre or Builders Warehouse, and paint them using Rust-Oleum 2X spray paint you can add bold colour, soft pastel shades or metallic hues.

Try choosing pot and paint colours that will compliment your flowers. Or, to pull together a "room" full of unlike planters and furniture, choose one beautiful colour and paint all your items with that.

Lay down newspapers in an outdoor or well-ventilated area. Check that the surface of the pot is clean and dry. Follow instructions on the spray can. Two or three thin coats are better than one thick one, which could drip. Allow five minutes’ drying time between coats.

Hanging baskets make a big difference to a small garden retreat. An old colander, lined with felt, is a picture-perfect plant hanger for a garden.

You'll need a strong wall bracket that can take the weight of the basket and its watered contents. Choose a mix of trailing and upright plants - geraniums, begonias, lobelias, sweet peas and petunias work well. Water regularly.

My favourite colours to use are a vibrant periwinkle blue or a pale lime green, but hunter green, terra cotta, and earth tones all look very natural in a planted setting. Also look for unusual containers to add whimsy to your room - old cast iron pots (spray with a sealer to prevent rust), wooden boxes and even an old wheelbarrow can be converted to plant containers.

Make use of what you have

A small courtyard or walled corner in a garden is easily transformed into a comfortable place to relax with a few accessories. Knock up a small table using recycled timber and then add a few cushions for seating. You can also use trellis frames or lattice planters to affordably create a boundary for your garden room. It's easy to make your own trellis with the right tools and materials.

To provide shade, hang fabric lining or sheets above the space. You can hang these from hooks mounted on walls, or sink a couple of bamboo or gum poles to fit hanging hooks. Alternatively, a garden umbrella will not only add instant glamour, they create a cool space to sit and read in the midday sun.

Add some ambient lighting for evening relaxation with garden lights or hurricane lamps - and your space is ready to use.

So, use your space! Take off your shoes, read a book, drink a cool glass of wine, play a board game. Or better yet, sneak out when the kids or hubby are occupied and spend a few minutes just remembering what a great gift the great outdoors is to us all.

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