The private oasis: It's the dream of every home garden enthusiast. After a long day at work, there's nothing like retreating to your own stress-free staycation spot right in your own backyard! With the right design strategies, your garden can become a stress-free sanctuary. Here are a few tips from landscaping contractors on how to cultivate a Zen-like retreat in your landscaping.
When designing relaxing spaces, many landscaping contractors turn to the principles of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of landscape design. This millennia-old practice, literally Wind Water in Chinese, studies how to best place landscape features so as to maintain the free flow of energy, known as Qi. A successful Feng Shui design includes all the different aspects of nature wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in a balanced, harmonious way.
Chances are there will be plenty of wood and earth in your garden. A garden decoration here and there can add metal elements. Wind chimes are a wonderful choice because they also offer a delightful aural experience. Likewise, water and fire elements dazzle the senses and should not be absent in a well-balanced landscape design. Fire could be represented with a chain of lights, or with a charming metal lantern. A fire pit is another option. And water is easy to incorporate as well with something as simple as a fountain or a birdbath.
Creating a Sense of Protection and Privacy
Humans naturally feel more at ease in protected environments. To enhance the sense of security in your backyard landscape, include vertical structures such as pergolas, fences, and bushes. Natural barriers may be created with potted plants as well; a row of potted bamboo plants, for instance, is a charming way to block neighbors' prying eyes. Or, you can create seasonal privacy by growing grapes, hops, or other fast-growing vines along pergolas and arbors.
Many landscape design companies are now building outdoor living rooms as well. A contemporary covered patio can also include recessed lighting, ceiling heating elements, and custom-made seating. Regardless of whether your outdoor structure has these modern bells and whistles, be sure to hire a knowledgeable landscape contractor who can erect a structurally sound cover with proper drainage.
Landscape Design Principles for Serenity
- Curved lines are more calming than straight lines. A winding path will always be more poetic than a rod-straight walkway.
- Soften harsh edges with plants. Even straight lines can be softened with plants such as ferns. Boulders and ceramic potting containers can also draw the eye away from a too-straight path.
- Design with proportion in mind. A lack of proper proportion is jarring for the eye. For instance, a huge tiered fountain would look strange in a postage stamp sized front yard. Instead, a dainty birdbath would better compliment such a cozy space.
The health benefits of a beautiful garden are gaining increasing recognition among health professionals. Indeed, there is an entire field, Ecopsychology, dedicated to understanding how interactions with nature (including gardens!) can lead to improved mental health. To create your own backyard paradise, follow the tips we've listed below, and let your own creative spirit be your guide as well.
Guest author Steve Stewart is President of Landscape East & West, Portland, Oregon's landscaping design professionals. Landscape East & West is an award-winning full-service landscaping company specializing in sustainable landscape maintenance services, outdoor kitchen, patio and garden design, and water features. Visit LandscapeEast.com to learn more.