Create a Fall Garden Retreat

Give yourself a private sanctuary to enjoy your landscape on beautiful fall days.


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Pathway to gazebo
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    This urban backyard measures just 45 feet wide, but by careful placement of outdoor living spaces and strategic use of plants, the homeowners created a private paradise in just five years. Read on to discover how you can do the same.

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Add a Structure

    Providing privacy from tall surrounding buildings, this gazebo gives the owners a spot to relax and entertain. Gazebos also let you to enjoy the outdoors even during stormy weather. And they're not just for large gardens; the example shown here is tucked in a tight space between a garage and a privacy fence.

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Look into the Garden

    Draw guests into the garden by locating seating areas away from the house. Use small trees or large shrubs to block the view of your home, and your outdoor room can feel like it's a million miles away.

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Work with Levels

    Sink your patio to make it feel intimate and easier to screen. The homeowners dug the patio shown here 2 feet below the surrounding grade to encourage the feeling of privacy.

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Add Water

    Mask the sounds of the surrounding city with a trickling stream or babbling brook. Water features such as this pond look and sound great, plus attract birds and other wildlife to the garden.

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Screen the View

    Keep unpleasant views out of sight with fences, trellises, and tall plantings. Add interest by breaking up solid expanses of screen. For example, use a few different plants for your hedges or add garden art (such as the wrought-iron metalwork on this gate).

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Light the Way

    Light a pathway to take your focus away from streetlights and unsightly security lighting. Landscape lighting also makes traversing your yard safer during evening events in the garden.

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Mix it Up

    Keep plantings interesting all year by using a mix of evergreen and deciduous varieties. Consider all seasons -- including a fall color or winter display -- when making your selections.

    Test Garden Tip: Think about other qualities as well. Dense evergreens are particularly good at blocking unwanted sounds, for example.

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Spotlight Garden Art

    Tuck away garden art, a birdbath, a birdhouse, or other found object to create visual appeal throughout the landscape. Place them so they can be viewed only from certain vantage points to entice visitors to stroll through the garden.

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Think Big

    Choose large trees or quick-growing shrubs to create drama fast. The tricolor beech shown here, for example, looks much older than five years because it was large when planted. And the hydrangea in the foreground is a quick grower.

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Fill in with Annuals

    Use colorful annual flowers, such as purple globe amaranth, white bacopa, and frilly scented geranium, to fill spaces between trees and shrubs and while large plants get established. Small-scale annuals bring intimacy to the garden.

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Include Hardscape

    Incorporate large stones and boulders into the landscape to create an instant sense of permanence and age. Bury a portion of some stones to achieve a more natural look as you position the boulders in a grouping.

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Create Seasonal Drama

    Cannas, ornamental grasses, and large annuals such as cleome make an impact late in the season when many other flowers have faded. These plants may grow 5 feet tall or more in one year, providing a quick fix for filling barren spaces and increasing the sense of privacy.

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