Humans are innately drawn to nature; biophilia being the term coined for our inherent desire to connect with the environment. Beyond the sense of ease that comes with spending time in the natural world, there are positive physiological benefits to spending time in the outdoors. An NPR article, by Marielle Segarra, states that trees have the ability to reduce our stress hormones and increase levels of white blood cells through the chemicals they release, called phytoncides. Despite the health benefits, it can be difficult to routinely engage with nature.
As wonderful as a spending time at the park or going on a local hike may be, schedules can fill up and taking time out of our day to enjoy nature can be difficult to manage. By creating a therapeutic or meditative garden in your own yard, you can bring calm to your day-to-day. The following are key components to a therapeutic garden.
Form a secluded space
Having a space tucked away, where you can find peace amidst the chaos, is essential. Aim to arrange trees and plants in a way to establish solitude and quiet.
Find a comforting plant palate
Soft hues from plants, such as sage, can create a sense of serenity, clustered with other plants of a similar tone. For some, however, brighter tones bring a sense of cheeriness that can lift your spirits. Partner with your landscape architect or designer to find the right plants to help you feel at ease.
Introduce soft sounds
A fountain or gentle chimes can create a wonderful space in which to mediate or simply relax. There are numerous ways of introducing water elements and other forms of therapeutic sounds to your yard.
Design for your senses
In addition to sound, smell can be immensely calming. Lavender is a well-known scent that reduces stress, but the scent you choose can be personal. If you grew up with the smell of blooming jasmine outside your window and you associate it with a positive time in your life, plant it to bring you back to that time. If scents are not soothing to you, an evening fire pit may be a nice alternative.
A calming naturescape would not be complete without the wildlife that tend to it. Certain elements could be incorporated into your design, such as bird baths, that encourage animals to take part in the space. The presence of these animals, their chirping or vibrant hues, can encourage you to leave your worries behind and find mindfulness for the present.
Designing a space that helps you find peace should not, itself, be stressful. By working closely with a landscape architect, they can guide you to a natural environment custom to your needs.