How COVID-19 Showed Your Backyard Can Be a Resort With Landscape Design

 In Garden Tips

Because of COVID-19, I’ve seen attitudes change regarding what makes the perfect vacation. With most of the world still under lockdown, tucked away at home, travel has become harder than ever. 

Despite the circumstance and the feelings around current events, the staycation has become more en vogue. 

In my work with clients, and speaking with friends located in Knoxville, Tennessee, I’ve seen a rise in the request for the “backyard oases”; especially over the past couple of months. 

Homeowners are looking to turn their comfortable backyards into mini-resorts, sanctuaries, or a place that reminds them of faraway locales. A backyard oasis can be whatever you want it to be. The rules are your very own. Exotic locale? A homemade utopia? You got it. Inspiration and the desire of what you want to see when you step out the back door is of your own choosing. 

Your oasis will be your very own sanctuary. 

Frankly, I’ve been quite impressed by what I’ve seen homeowners do without a landscape architect. A little creativity and ingenuity go a long way. But, bring in a landscape architect, or a landscape design company, and you can transform your backyard ideas and concepts into a fully-realized staycation spot. 

Enter the Backyard Oasis 

A little inspiration can help you figure out what your ideal oasis will look like.

Typical Features of a Backyard Oasis

  • An Inviting Veranda or Deck –  There’s usually enough space to include patio furniture, and may include a swing, an awning and suitable space for lush greenery. They’re typically wooden and have steps leading into the rest of the backyard. 
  • Stone Paths – Circulation is critical and something I put at the top of my list when creating any design. However, stone paths and others created out of natural materials can instantly elevate the appeal of backyard space. Conjure up inspiration from French cobblestone streets: why not? In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, stone paths are also highly functional.
  • Plant Support Structures – Landscape structures can complement other features in your backyard, but they can also have some practical uses as well. For example, a wooden trellis not only looks elegant, but it also gives you space for horticultural features like climbing roses. A wooden pergola not only looks luxurious, but it also serves as an ideal shaded refuge in your backyard. The possibilities are endless.

Bring In the Elements

  • A Refreshing Pool – A staycation-ready backyard can be greatly enhanced with the addition of a pool. It’s a must-have when space and budget allow. Of course, there are different variations of backyard pools ranging from the natural “swimming hole” solution; to artfully-crafted above-ground water feature.
  • Water Features – Apart from a pool, the most heavenly backyard oases have water features that not only look great but are also soothing to the senses. They take up little space and contribute to a pleasing backyard, creating visual stimulation amongst the greenery, while also being soothing to hear on late nights with the accompaniment of crickets. A water feature can complement the quiet and mask unwanted noises. 
  • Firepits & Fireplaces – Providing a different ambience altogether, a fireplace or firepit can add another element to your oasis, especially at night. A dancing and crackling fire as you gaze up at the night sky can be wonderful. The firepit itself can be intricately designed, and be a major focal point for a night garden oasis. The help of a landscape architect can ensure the pit is designed with safety (and beauty) in mind.

Backyards that Served as Staycation Spots During COVID

You can really venture to major destinations right at home. I’ve seen incredible, well-executed backyard oases in-person and online. Of course, the question remains – how do you make these features fit in your backyard? Where do you start?

The best way I can introduce you to some ideas for a backyard oasis is by presenting some inspiring examples. Without further adieu, here’s what I’ve scoured through…

A Mini Paradise in Austin, TX




Christine and Jeremy Poreca, residents of Austin, TX, purchased their home in 2016 but their backyard was a blank canvas. Dead grass and cement furnishings weren’t going to cut it, so they transformed it into a vibrant outdoor space. The result? The relatively sparse backyard was transformed into a posh backyard oasis, equipped with a sun pool, canopy trees for shading. As well as luxurious built-in benches and rustic bamboo fencing.  

Northern Touch – Toronto, ON


Michael and Vanessa Hyatt, residents of the city of Aurora in Ontario, Canada, built an award-winning backyard that’s well suited for a COVID-19 staycation. The Hyatt’s backyard oasis is a marvel of contemporary landscape design. It features a pool, a TV lounge feature, a 4ft waterfall, decorative privacy walls and a custom-made pergola. 

For a backyard that’s relatively small, the Hyatt’s were able to pack lots of architectural features without making their backyard seem overcrowded. This is a great example of how a small size doesn’t have to compromise design. It’s quite possible to have it all. Or at the very least, most of what you want.

There’s no end to the creative possibilities of a backyard oasis. As long as your budget allows and there are no legal restrictions to limit your vision. In fact, there’s little you can’t do in your backyard. A landscape architect can help bring that vision to life. 

Hire a Landscape Architect for an (At-Home) Getaway

Now here’s the reality about turning your backyard into an oasis. It’s not something you should try without professional guidance. 

There are exceptions, of course. If you’re in the landscaping business, construction industry or otherwise some serious home renovation skills, you can probably pull off a backyard oasis project. 

But this isn’t the case for most people. 

Building a Staycation Getaway

Your own backyard can be a massive undertaking for even seasoned handymen and handywomen. That’s where a landscape architect comes in handy. 

A landscape architect or company that specializes in contemporary or sustainable landscape design takes the brunt and burden of backyard oasis construction. 

For many of my clients the investment in a professional design is totally worth it. From the initial concept, planning, the right landscape architect will bring attention to detail and subject matter expertise to spot a problem before construction starts. Or better yet, provide an alternative solution you might not have thought of.

Benefits of Hiring a Landscape Architect

  • Creative Insight – No, they won’t stifle your creativity or vision. They’ll simply refine your ideas so that they’re realistic for your living area, and suggest design tricks you probably didn’t think of. 
  • Expert Execution & Planning – Good ideas make landscape design fun, but great execution is essential to bring them to life. That means mapping out every detail from the blueprint stage right through to physical construction. 
  • Experience & Track Record – Remember, building a backyard oasis is a major project, and some aspects of the construction can’t be undone once completed. A landscape architect with a trusted reputation will get the details right and have the know-how to complete your project error-free. 
  • Awareness of Zoning/By-Law Restrictions – Every city, such as my very own in Knoxville, Tennessee, has restrictions on what you can and can’t do on your property. Many DIY projects are stifled when people are unaware of them. A landscape architect always considers these restrictions long before executing a plan so that there are no hiccups later. 
  • Peace of Mind – Ultimately, with the hard stuff taken out of your hands, you don’t have to worry about the construction of your oasis. You can simply sit back and relax, watching your new backyard unfold without breaking a sweat. 

A Backyard Oasis as Refuge & Recreation

COVID-19 has tested us in many ways – financially, mentally, socially and more. There’s nothing positive about the pandemic itself but it has forced us to collectively rethink our approach to daily life including what we can do to relax.

And in that, we can find some positives. 

With a professional landscape architect crafting your vision you may find enjoyment and escape right in Knoxville, Tennessee or wherever you call home this summer,

A backyard of one’s own creativity and imagination can offer you the perfect getaway. All it takes is one great idea and perhaps a phone call to me to get started.

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