I feel very fortunate to have a home with more than enough space for my roommate and I. During this pandemic, we are both working from home, but can honestly go almost the full day without seeing or hearing each other. Throw in the garage and backyard and we each have our own little escapes. All that said, the one area where we both end up connecting is the back deck. We just added one of those tables with the propane fire pit in the middle and we have a pretty comfy couch. Last year we added an umbrella to make the morning sun a little more bearable, as well as a cafe table for two. It's wonderful to get "outside" without having to go out where all the scary people are!

Regardless of the size of your home, you are likely still itching to get outside. Today I'd like to talk about a few neat ideas you can utilize to make your very own backyard oasis. The best part about most of these ideas is they won't break the bank. The primary objective is to create a space where you can "escape" within the privacy of your own home. It's like a man-cave, but for all genders!

One of the more crucial parts of your oasis is greens! If we assume we are working with a deck or patio, find a way to get plants and flowers sprinkled throughout. Our deck is not particularly big so we opted for hanging plants to maintain what floor space we have. There's nothing more frustrating than having to walk around planters in an already confined space. You'll have to pay attention to the needs of your plants as well. How much sunlight do they want? How often do they need water/food? We made that mistake last summer and "cooked" our hanging flowers by accident. They just got too much afternoon sun. Live and learn.

We also opted for the fire route. We added a table with those clear, ice-looking rocks in the middle where the flame comes out. It's incredibly simple to use. There is no clean-up, soot, wood, etc. And it just looks (and feels) amazing. Another path instead of fire is water. There are tons of options out there that can simply and inexpensively add a water feature to your backyard. A simple bowl with colored rocks and a small water pump is all you need. One of our neighbors is putting in a water feature that covers half of their entire front yard. You can keep it simple or go nuts! The result is the same. A soothing, babbling water piece that adds to your relaxation.

One of my favorite books of all time is Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. He is such an amazing, visual writer that you are transported back to 1928 in a much simpler time. The time of enjoying ice cold glasses of lemonade while sitting on the porch swing. You could transport yourself back there by adding a swing to your own porch. Even simplifying that to just a hammock will get the job done. "Relaxing on a covered porch, especially during a rainstorm, while finishing the day's crossword puzzle is one of life's simple pleasures," notes Badger Realty agent, Brendan Battenfelder.

I almost never wear shoes. I work from home and (even more-so now) never leave the house. One of the best feelings is taking off my socks and wandering around the backyard and deck. You can work this pleasure into your backyard oasis as well. While walking in grass barefoot is great, I think we all know how nice beach sand feels under our feet. You could add a sand feature or even simple bamboo rugs around your deck. The idea of this whole area is to make you smile. Walking on grass, sand, bamboo or nicely finished wood can be sublime. It really is the simple things!

Lastly, I encourage you to keep the area looking clean and fresh. Our stain was getting a little tired last summer so I re-finished the deck. You really don't realize how "tired" your deck is looking until it gets a new coat of stain! It is also a great idea to make the colors of this area fun. We opted for a nice, deep red for the deck and it makes us smile every time we go out there. Keep it clean. Keep the area clutter free. And work on making the area fun and relaxing. You'll appreciate your home even more!

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