Most of us have a mental go-to location — somewhere we’ve been that gives us a feeling of comfort and safety. Imagining ourselves there can help us regroup at the middle of a hectic day. Some of the very productive and successful men and women in our society have learned the secret of accepting five-minute mental vacations when the daily grind appears to inundate them with tasks and migraines.
My mental go-to location is an overlook near Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina. It is a wonderful location of escape. Anxiety disappears as I make my way over a footbridge and between boulders as tall as three-story buildings. Water trickles from the mountain between the rocks, nurturing innumerable ferns and rhododendrons. A primordial mist and aromas engulf me as I climb toward the peak. There I can sit and gaze out over countless mountains. I feel like I could see forever. Lichens and some brave rhododendrons that have taken hold in the cracks between the enormous plates of rock are my companions. Life is placed into perspective.
You can design a private garden space in your corner of suburbia that authentically speaks to your go-to location and activates those relaxing, pleasant memories. Regardless of how your place looks in your mind’s eye, certain design principles will help you achieve that feeling of comfort and well-being you need and deserve. Your model of my mountain overlook could be waiting for you behind your garage or outside your kitchen door, just past the recycling bin and the electrical meter.
You know the location. Let’s make it happen.
JSL Exteriors Landscape Design/Build
Create a transition to remind you to look at your hectic day at the doorway. Every private backyard needs a entry. This offers a backyard credibility and integrity, putting it apart from the outside world. An entrance could be a pair of older doors, a trellis with a gate, stone pillars on either side of a pathway, a concealed opening at a tall hedge, a pair of a bridge.
Jean Brooks Landscapes
Don’t you just want to slip between the opening in this fence and experience what’s beyond? Perhaps a stone pillar or metallic sculpture of Asian sway located to the left of the opening will welcome you house at the end of a long workday.
Whatever kind your entryway takes, it is a reminder to leave your concerns at the doorway. Don’t we all need those occasional reminders?
Katia Goffin Gardens
Less tangible. Go natural. After a day of work in the concrete and asphalt jungle, who needs to come home to a lot of that? To mepersonally, a go-to backyard is all about people and plants, the way they interact and coexist. Unless you have a good reason to use excessive hardscaping, why not use dirt or gravel instead?
Both are permeable, inexpensive and, most significant, feel good under your feet. Mulch pathways cushion the feet and bring to mind the seemingly audible quiet of a wilderness retreat. Gravel crunches underfoot, making the most beautiful sound.
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
Use mass plantings to make stream. “Flow” is one of those words which is better felt than ever defined. This photo defines “stream” better than any dictionary ever could, and it feels right, doesn’t it?
Utilizing lots of plants of the same species creates unparalleled visual effect. A buddy of mine explained that she would go to the nursery, spend $1,000 on one of the and among that rather than notice them since they became visually engulfed by her large space. Collectively we planted 80 fall ferns at a serpentine line around the back of her pond. She was amazed by the visual effect when she stood and saw the outcome.
The reason why the idea of mass plantings works so good is that the eye flows uninterrupted, seeing the whole space as one component. The result is most assuredly a calm sense of comfort.
Jay Sifford Garden Design
Establish rhythm in your garden. Most of us have an internal rhythm. A number of that is static, portion of who we are, and some of it changes according to our circumstances and moods. Heart and breathing rates are just two of the most noticeable kinds of internal rhythm, but your normal stride and style of walking and that melody that continually plays in your head are other kinds of your private rhythm.
You can present the notion of rhythm in your backyard by repeating certain important elements, as was performed with these sculptural ceramic orbs. By spacing them further apart, you can slow down your rhythm, making a more relaxing backyard experience. Closer spacing might actually reduce your sense of comfort by simply making the room feel busier and more congested. Considering these orbs alternate from side to side along this path, the eye is drawn down to a concealed portion of the backyard. Why? Because rhythm is created, and this rhythm interferes with your internal rhythm. If you have ever thought to yourself, “This backyard speaks to mepersonally,” rhythm is possibly the reason.
Tip: When doing a rhythmic installation such as this, strange numbers of things are always more gratifying to the eye.
James R. Salomon Photography
Use curved bed lines. While directly bed lines fit nicely into a formal garden, they are sometimes much too rigid for your go-to space. Indeed, they may interfere with your goal of comfort unless your go-to space involves a queue, a theme park and a roller coaster. You will find that curved bed lines will calm you down and inspire a sense of well-being and creativity.
Another advantage of utilizing curved bed lines is that they make it much easier to transition from one type of planting to another. In this manner your plants won’t wind up looking like cans on a grocery store shelf.
Jay Sifford Garden Design
Introduce the element of water. Few things have caught the imagination of the human race like water. Water Resistant and sustains, absorbs and reflects light, and gives a home to a multitude of creatures, all which are reasons to include some type of water component in almost every garden. The noise and motion of water attract a distinctive amount of visceral cartoon to the backyard.
The certain type of water feature you decide to integrate into your private space will be different according to your affinities, budget and space. You may choose a naturalistic type of pond like the one shown here, or perhaps a trickle of water flowing through a bit of bamboo in a Japanese garden.
Tip: Consider having your water feature professionally equipped, and purchase the best equipment you can afford. There’s nothing relaxing and nurturing about broken pumps, algae blooms and water flows.
Refine your plant colour. Now on to the fun part. Creating a plant palette may be an intimidating task for many gardeners, so here are a few pointers.
Limit your colors but explore shapes and textures. Vibrant warm oranges and showy pinks might be overpowering at a comfort garden. If you study the garden shown here, you’ll find that the color palette is very restricted. The majority of plants used in this garden are either bluish gray or tan. Green is used to subtly weave continuity into this space and to provide the eye a place to rest. Likewise, most of the crops are mounding with a few accents of spikes. This mounding form is reinforced by boulders.
What gives this backyard a punch of attention is really the massive variation in texture, from the rock steps and boulders to the a variety of leaf textures. Limiting the color palette and shapes produces a sensory base of relaxation so that the viewer is encouraged to explore the wonderful selection of textures.
Randy Thueme Design Inc. – Landscape Architecture
Similarly, the designer of the space significantly limited the color palette and even the plant contours to give prominence to texture. You don’t need a huge space to pull this off; you could easily re-create the appearance on an apartment balcony.
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
Consider the use of moss. I am aware of no other plant which so readily nurtures a feeling of relaxation.
Moss can now be purchased by the square foot. Carefully study which type is best for your conditions. Some varieties can take more sun than others; some favor sandy soil, but others favor clay. Moss doesn’t need perfect dirt, but it does need daily watering until it’s well recognized. The payoff would be well worth the additional effort on front.
Add a weeping or pendulous tree. This may sound simplistic, but weeping and pendulous plants really do assist us feel rested, while upright spiky plants exude electricity and activity. Picture yourself doing the comfort technique of gradually breathing in and breathing out. Notice two things: the position of your body after you exhale as well as the corresponding feeling.
Weeping and pendulous trees imitate this form. Notice that the superb pendulous Alaskan Cedar trees (chamaecyparis nootkatensis, zones 4 to 8) in the photo. Don’t they lend a feeling of calm?