Creating A Backyard Oasis

Creating A Backyard Oasis - House & Home

Landscape pros' tips for instilling a vacay vibe.

Husband-and-wife team Marcelo Palacious and Magela Bruno have been operating their Toronto landscape business, Landscaping De Sol A Sol, for 12 years, so it's no surprise their own 1,200-square-foot backyard is full of good ideas. When their children (shown) aren't cooling their feet in the plunge pool, they're turning cartwheels on the lawn or enjoying an outdoor dinner party with the family. We asked Marcelo and Magela to share their insights on how to instill a resort-like vibe into a city garden, which appeared in our May 2014 issue.

Plan Your Areas And Divide Them

A backyard escape should be versatile, so make room for the activities you indulge in most. In their backyard, Magela and Marcelo created a deck area for entertaining, a green space for the kids to play and a pool area for lounging. How you define these areas are important too. "Get creative with level changes: hedges, flowerbeds, trees, stone borders and architectural fences help carve out zones and add interest," Marcelo advises.

Create A Bar Area

Every resort has one, so turn your backyard into party central with a dedicated bar area. It doesn't have to be elaborate, Marcelo used simple 2 x 4 planks and 4 triangle brackets to form the bar, and two beer kegs were converted into stools to create an impromptu beach-shack vibe.

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Offer Shade

Having shelter is key when children want to escape the sun or you want to read a book, so consider a sunsail, awning, umbrella or mature tree to supply shade. Marcelo designed his plunge pool around a mature Beauty Bush with a wide canopy of branches. Do add lots of colour and greenery with flowers, but if your backyard is compact, don't eat up valuable "floor" space with containers. Hanging pots on fences creates a lush, tropical mood.

Invest In Good Patio Furniture

The most luxe hotels always feature standout chaise lounges that no one is in a hurry to vacate. Pick something oversize and super comfy, but practical too. Magela's Cane-Line loungers are over a decade old and still look great. "All they require is a quick power wash, and they stay out all year long," she says. "I just change up the look with different pillows."

Use Plenty Of Light

Don't cut the party short, lighting is key to extend the fun long into the evenings and create ambience. Magela suspends an iron chandelier from a tree to lend grandeur to al fresco dinner parties under the stars.

Find more backyard design ideas in our Gardening & Outdoor Living Guide.