Creating an Outdoor Place to Reclaim Your Life


By Jane Gates

Signal Staff Writer

Landscaping has sometimes been seen as a garnish to cover space around the house. But now, our frazzled lives need our yards to become — something else. A life line. A way to reclaim ourselves from all the fear-filled invasions.

Life can be hard. But challenges present us with experiences that can enrich the kind of people we are. We can expand our realities. Learn to be bigger. Become wiser. Discover something more important to share; our own “experiential wisdom.”

Okay. So fine, what does this have to do with outdoor rooms? Everything!

Outdoor rooms have been a popular way to extend home-living space into the garden, gaining in popularity in the past decade.

So there are currently two ways to view them:

One, as something you already have and can use or expand to provide you and your family a safe place to unwind in an increasingly threatening environment; or

Two, as something you want to create which will keep you busy with an exciting project. Work can consume much of your fear and anxiety of the outer world you can do nothing about.

If you are considering adding an outdoor room, you can include everyone in the house to help. And each step of the way you can appreciate all you are learning, all you are creating and all you will have when you are done.

There are also plenty of other practical considerations for building or using space you already have for an outdoor room. One is that you can make your home safer and more comfortable during extreme weather.

Other uses can be an outdoor game room, a bar, a sport or workout room, a child’s play room or anything else that might improve your lifestyle.

Other elements that can make your outdoor room look classy and well-finished are using outdoor fabrics for drapes, colorful pillows, shades screens or panels. And, of course, don’t forget to soften the look with planters or pots of decorative plants.

Shade roofing can be made with a solid ceiling, lattice, strips of wood, shade cloth or even panels of fabric stretched across the top of the furnished room.

Walls can be open, solid or made of living materials as a planted hedge or row of potted plants. However you design it, you can have an exciting addition to your house that is fun, useful and even environmentally friendly — not to mention looking gorgeous.

All too often homeowners and renters who have access to outdoor rooms, only access them for special entertainment events. But as we go through an historical experience of physically distancing ourselves from even our closest friends and families, we can bring the family unit or invite just ourselves into a comforting intimacy with our own outdoor space.

We can cook, play, relax, and simply loose ourselves in the kinetic interplay of nature going on all around us. We can live fully in the moment with ourselves and those (human or pets) that are an ever-present part of those lives — with a new appreciation.

So take the time to USE your outdoor space. This is a great time to shift away from seeing it as something behind the house that needs occasional service or something to be woken up for an event.

Put your outside space to work as an expansion of your everyday life. Watch. Listen. Feel. Expand your senses. Let your mind drift. You will be allowing your mind and body to heal with gamma waves, deep rest, mindfulness, and peace — building blocks for strong health to fend off any of those outside invasions.

And if you don’t have an outdoor room available, this is a perfect opportunity to fill your time with imagining, designing, learning to build — or recycle — materials and plants to form your own retreat or safe vacationland.

Some designs can be opulent and expensive, but others can be simple, home-built, imaginative — maybe even constructed with all re-purposed materials — and equally comfortable and beautiful.

If you need the healing offered in an outdoor structure but don’t have one available soon enough, then walk out your door! You don’t need an invitation to a social gathering.

See what nature is up to in your neighborhood. Wander in the local hills. Take a quiet hike. Check out an empty lot where wildflowers are nodding their appreciation for this year’s late rains. Look around. There are so many places where nature sets you free from other people, germs, ideas, noise, machinery or anything else that can divert you from your place in the open world where you can heal inside and out. Then you might want to consider how you could build your own version of on outdoor room once you get home!

Don’t allow yourself to crumble under negativity and fear. Take charge and build your own outdoor healing spa or getaway in whatever form moves you. Then, when all this current commotion is over, you might just find yourself emerging a little calmer, healthier, wiser and with more to share as our civilization takes its next step — into a world that has been here much longer than any of us have!

For more information about gardening in the Santa Clarita Valley, visit Jane Gates on YouTube at

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