In an outdoor room, landscaping is both ornamental and functional: A row of hedges can serve as a wall; climbing roses snaking over a pergola can act as a roof. Borders can be formed with potted plants, which also serve as decorative elements. Just as indoor rooms need a fresh coat of paint every few years, those outside require maintenance, too. Choose between plants that are meant to grow wild, like ivy in an English country garden, and more formal privet hedgerows that demand regular shaping.
Also think about which months you’ll use the space. Selecting plants that change with the seasons will provide visual interest year-round. Outdoor rooms require both short- and long-term thinking, and patience. Shrubs grow and flowers blossom, but for a lush and layered look, you may have to wait. “Create what you can now,” says Julia Hubbard, a garden designer based in Sagaponack, New York. “Then sit out there and think about what you’re going to do next summer.”
Here, a shady nook of holly, white pine, and hydrangea makes a natural shelter for a rope hammock suspended from a pair of barn beams. Spaces that incorporate a sense of discovery—through the bushes, out of sight around a bend, at the end of a pathway—feel like true getaways, even if they’re in your own backyard.