Even the blandest garden has the potential to be something unique, and there’s nothing more unique than your own personal holiday destination! A touch of exotic life can turn your spare space into a place you can relax at a moment’s notice – we’ve teamed up with specialists from Olive Grove to show you how to turn your garden into an exotic escape.
Don’t skimp on water
A water feature, stream, pond or pool can transform even the most basic area of your garden into something completely new: go for something bombastic with backlit pools and stylish fountains, or take a more peaceful route with Japanese-style koi ponds and lily pads. The sound of running water can be just as relaxing as the sight of it, so you might even prefer to have a few tiny water statues dotted around to create some quiet ambience.
If you’re looking for something more functional, consider setting up a plant irrigation system – it won’t be as flashy as your own personal mini-river, but it’ll add a cool, damp feeling to your garden without feeling like a waste of good water. A drinking fountain can work well if you regularly have guests over, provided you can keep its water supply fresh, and will fit in with a lot of “resort-themed” garden designs.
Attract the right animals
Wild animals can completely change how a garden looks and feels, although some of them can be less helpful than others. It’s obviously a good idea to get rid of moles and other garden pests, but the right environment could bring in a big selection of birds, bugs and small animals to add some real nature to your relaxation spot.
A few small birdfeeders around ponds and pools can keep away dragonflies and midges, whilst also stopping larger birds like pigeons and crows from settling there. Growing certain plants can attract butterflies and bees, whereas log and leaf piles will draw in some animals you’d normally only see during certain seasons and times of day, like hedgehogs or bats.
Add more exotic plants
The easiest way to add a splash of exotic colour to your garden is through plants – no matter where they’re from, you’ll be able to provide them with their ideal climate as long as you plan ahead. Palm trees, cacti, Venus flytraps and other exotic plants may be difficult to grow out in the open, so using the right kind of shelter can remove most of the hassle and leave you free to enjoy your display of exotic flora.
Use decking and tiles more often
Most gardens limit the patio floor to the area near the house, leaving the rest of it as bare dirt or grass. For a truly exotic experience, try extending your solid flooring in directions you normally wouldn’t expect – for example, add a raised wooden deck or turn your patio into a border that surrounds the entire garden, like the wooden bridges you might find in remote nature walks or isolated holiday destinations.
A regular garden path could be replaced with individual tiles for a more natural look, and you could even smash a few up slightly to give your outdoor floor a slight “historical ruins” feel. Depending on what kind of exotic look you’re doing for, you might prefer to cover the decking with other materials, like outdoor rugs or artificial grass.
Use colourful and vibrant lights
Exotic escapes call for exotic lights, and there are plenty of ways you can expand from a regular LED bulb. Everything, from mock wooden torches to tinted floor lights, can work if you find a fitting place to put them – you can even place some on or under your ponds and pools to shine out of the water, or hang them from trees to completely change how the light shines on your garden.
Don’t worry about powering them, either: solar-powered have been getting easier to find with every passing year, so you can keep your entire garden well-light without taking a hit to your electricity bill. If you’re conscious of light pollution annoying your neighbours or interrupting your sleep, motion-activated lights or lamps with a built-in timer might be a good compromise.
Give your garden a purpose
Probably the most important part of making an exotic escape is having something to escape to. Whether it’s a barbeque pit, hammock area or reading shelter, there should be a particular structure or piece of furniture that sets it apart from other gardens near you.
Maybe you want to have a private walled-off section for writing, or a shed-office for working on your hobbies: your new exotic garden shouldn’t just look important, it should actually be important to the way you spend your free time.