Your backyard is a great place for many activities – barbecuing, entertaining friends and playing with little ones, but best of all, it’s for relaxing. And an ideal way to kick back outside at home is with a good book. Curling up under the treetops among fragrant flowers on a sunny afternoon feels like perfection for anyone who likes indulging in a real page-turner. You can make your backyard a favorite place to read by creating your very own outdoor reading garden.
Creating an outdoor reading garden can be lots of fun. Here are reading garden ideas to help you get started.
Find a Special Spot
Choose a location in your yard that is away from other entertaining spaces so that you have a more quiet and intimate area, where space allows. Find a quiet corner that is just waiting to be used.
Sketch Your Space
Once you have a location, drawing up a quick sketch that shows where you will place your plants, your hardscaping and furnishings encourages you to let your imagination flourish. This will help you think through what you really desire from your outdoor reading space. It will also help you budget for items you want to purchase to create it.
Pick Pretty Plants
Flora and fauna are what make a garden, so picking the perfect plants are one of the most important decisions you will make when creating your reading garden! Choose ones that make you happy! Be sure to make note of the lighting conditions prior to selecting plants so that you can ensure you are choosing the right plant for the right location.
Scent the Scenery
You will also want to pick plants that help set a mood in your space. Fragrant plants such as Lavender, Lilacs, Roses, Peonies, Mock Orange, Lilies, Hyacinth, Gardenia, and Jasmine will add wafts of fragrance to your space. Be sure to plant so that your fragrant blooming plants are spread out over the seasons as to not overwhelm your senses and so that you can enjoy them longer.
Use Useful Greenery
Make sure your plants don’t attract unwanted insects, and add some that might just repel a few! Plants such as Mints, Lavender, perennial Geranium, Rosemary, Bee Balm and Marigolds are just a few to choose from that will help repel mosquitoes, flies and even moths in the garden.
Have a Seat
Picking the right seating so that you can enjoy the space comfortably with your book is also important. Choose a comfortable chair or a reclining chaise lounge as your garden seating. There are many great outdoor furniture options available, so look for a style that suits you and your perhaps your reading preferences. If you like garden literature or romantic novels, you may want to choose woven rattan or wicker. Or maybe modern or rustic is more your style?
Be sure to look at your space, including the size of the space, whether you want to leave the furniture out year-round and how many seats you want to include when planning for furniture. Also make sure and cushions and pillows can withstand all sorts of weather by choosing fabrics made for patio and outdoor furniture.
One thing you will need when creating a space to read in the garden is shade! Whether you are reading a traditional paper book or an e-book, it helps to have shade. Get shade naturally from existing trees or a newly planted tree. Or consider using an umbrella, pergola or even an arbor with a bench seat if you have a smaller space. Planting a climbing rose or wisteria over a pergola can add charm to your shady nook.
Let in Some Light
Consider adding lighting to your space to prolong the time you can enjoy your reading nook into the evening. Landscape lighting has evolved a lot from a decade ago! Today’s outdoor options don’t cost a fortune and can cast a warm light in virtually any space. You can even purchase floor and table lamps for the outdoors.
Pour in H2O
Consider including a water feature. Water features create ambient noise that will help drown out other less welcome noises such as neighbors, road traffic, airplanes, etc. A small fountain gurgling next to your reading chair is so peaceful and soothing — it will help you relinquish stress and get in the mood to relax and read. Water features can be as simple as a small table fountain or as big as a bubbling pond with a waterfall. As a bonus the birds will also love to come and visit your water feature on a warm summer day!
Add Novel Touches to Your Reading Garden
Add in some literary-related garden art and plants. Perhaps a garden statue that reflects a favorite book or author would fit into your space, like a Peter Rabbit garden statue or a door to a Hobbit hole? Garden art can be whimsical — like amusing sculptures of reading cats, bears, frogs and turtles —and indicate that this is your special place to read.
You may also want to plant flowers named after favorite authors, such as orange Jane Austen roses, pink climbing roses named for Agatha Christie, or a shrub rose with peach blooms named after Roald Dahl.
There are even roses named after classic characters in literature, like the David Austin Rose named Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
Flowers can remind you of books you’ve enjoyed such as daisies for Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, blush roses for The Rosie Project books by Graeme Simsion, or lilies for Lily Owens in The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
However you design your reading garden, be creative, keep it a reflection of you and your love of books, and have fun!