How to Create a Reading Nook in Your Garden
Enjoy a good book in your own personal oasis by following these expert tips.
A well-maintained, flourishing garden is a built-in slice of heaven on any property. Take a step into yours, and you'll be transported to a relaxing oasis; that simple fact is why gardens are also such wonderful places to read. "Outdoor living is more popular than ever, and homeowners are increasingly looking to add small spaces, like a secluded area or reading nook, to promote relaxation and rejuvenation," says Joe Raboine, the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard. "Being outdoors is proven to make us happier and healthier, so these spaces help improve everyday health and wellbeing."
Ahead, design and gardening experts explain how to carve out a spot in your landscape designated just for enjoying a good book.
Create the space.
"Ideally, you want a location that has both non-deciduous and deciduous greens to create the privacy and shade factor," explains Anne R. Kokoskie, the owner and designer of Styled by A.R.K. "My favorite combination is a river or pin oak for the shade paired with the charm of boxwood for privacy. If the zone allows, I add a little lemongrass, which has health benefits, into the mix to help naturally ward off mosquitoes." For even more visual appeal, position your nook to face the rest of your flora. "I prefer to have a view of my cut flower garden which is full of zinnias, snapdragons, and dahlias," Megh Wingenfeld, a gardening expert, says. "While I love bees in my garden, I don't want them buzzing around while I'm trying to read, so I keep my nook separate from the flowers." Instead, she suggests cutting a few blooms, arranging them in a vase, and bringing them into your shaded nook for an organic touch. Another pro tip? "If you choose to make your nook under your favorite tree, you could add ferns or hostas, which love the shade," she continues.
Consider a couple more accents for your oasis, like water features and mood-enhancing lighting. Raboine suggests the former since it creates a soothing ambience. "I adore paths made of garden steppingstones accompanied by lighting," Kokoskie says of the latter. "It takes you on a magical journey back to your retreat. Uplighting on the trees and even a hidden electrical box allows this space to become an extension of your favorite nesting spot indoors, but with the privilege of being outdoors!"
Select your seating.
If you're limited on space, Raboine suggests adding a built-in wall with seating, since this is also multifunctional (it's a good place to sit and doubles as a traditional retaining wall). "Add a structure for additional shade, such as an arbor or pergola, with a hanging chair or bed," he offers, as an alternative. "While not furniture in the traditional sense, a fire pit is another great addition to any outdoor space, especially a reading nook. They can add extra light and allow you to use the space year-round. Lighting is another critical element for visibility."
Consider chaises with a table if you want to create a complete sanctuary. "I adore an outdoor daybed," Kokoskie says, suggesting one with shade; the Madera FSC Teak Daybed Double Chaise Lounge with Canopy (from $959, potterybarn.com) fits the bill. "Having extra lounge space to allow for blankets and a tray to hold your favorite beverage and nibble is perfect!" Hang some lanterns on the fixture of your choosing if you don't have access to electrical outlets nearby; incorporate hanging pots to create an even more lush environment, Wingenfeld says, suggesting the HC Companies Hanging Garden Planter ($8.99, amazon.com).
Maintain the area.
Your reading nook is a space surrounded by ever-growing greenery, so you'll need to make sure that this spot is kept up. "If you include any kind of pavers in your space—as they are great for creating smooth walkways and surfaces if you prefer not to have grass—you'll need to conduct ongoing maintenance to keep them clean from outside elements," Raboine explains. "Trimming hedges and keeping other plants contained is also important for aesthetic purposes and to keep insects away."
Otherwise, keep it simple. "Remember to cover the furniture during bad weather and bring pieces in for the winter," says Wingenfeld, who is also camp no grass (it's a hassle to move all of the furniture around when mowing, she says)." The garden expert has patio pavers on her property and uses pebbles in between in one to squash weeds. "Growing perennials as a border of your garden reading nook will keep it simple all summer long!" she adds.