Everyone knows that life is challenging and stressful.
In today's hectic world, what could be better than adding another element of relaxation to the place we treat as our own personal oasis--our home? Experiencing nature is a popular way for many people to de-stress; wouldn't it be great to have an area that serves as a retreat, accessible at all times, right in your own backyard?
The area you choose could be a shady patio or a quiet corner of the garden.
Try to choose a spot where you are not likely to hear traffic noise or the sounds of neighbors.
For instance, if your neighbors entertain frequently outdoors, your quiet spot should probably not be adjacent to that area.
Also, be sure that this area can be relatively private.
It should not be visible from the adjacent properties or the street and, if it is, you should be able to screen it with plantings or structures.
When planning the garden, consider what you will hear, see, smell and touch.
Make sure that the elements you choose will give you a peaceful, calm feeling rather than exciting your senses.
As a general rule, choose elements that will provide softer, lighter sounds, lighter fragrances and more muted colors.
Many people find the sounds of a wind chime to be very relaxing; you can choose from many different tones, from light and tinkling to deeper, more sonorous sounds.
If you really enjoy the sounds of chimes you could choose several in complementary tones.
The sound and appearance of water is an element that promotes almost instantaneous relaxation for most people.
A small fountain, either purchased or constructed from a beautiful ceramic pot, would be a great choice for a small area or patio.
A small area would also accommodate a rock column fountain; it consists of one or more standing rocks that have been drilled so that the water comes up through the center and trickles gently down the face of the rock.
The water then percolates through some stones at the base of the rocks; the basin is actually underground, so there is no visible standing water to contend with.
When choosing your plant palette, green should be the predominant foliage color.
The color green is widely known to promote relaxation.
You could choose plants with different colors of green foliage and, if the area is very dark, the addition of a few plants with variegated foliage (preferably white and green) would help to lighten the area.
Flowers (if any) should be chosen from the cooler color range such as white, lavender or blue; brighter colors (red, yellow, orange) excite the senses, while cooler colors promote relaxation.
Incorporate some plants that will provide fragrance at different times of the year.
Select some comfortable seating.
This could be a weathered teak bench, a comfy rocking chair or glider or even a hammock.
The floor of the area should tie in with the natural elements already used; loose-laid slate or flagstone (possibly with a small groundcover such as pink thyme or scotch moss growing between the stones) would be ideal.
The final step is to select one or two carefully-considered garden art pieces.
If you are spiritual, this could be a St.
Francis or St.
Fiacre statue, a Buddha or some other piece that has special meaning to you.
It might also be a bird bath, gazing ball or some beautiful blown-glass pieces hanging in the trees.
A beautiful garden plaque hanging on a fence can accentuate the plant material surrounding it and provide a focal point of the garden.
With careful consideration and a little planning, you can create an area that will provide peace and tranquility to all who enter, right in your own backyard.
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