Many homeowners focus on beautiful outdoor spaces specifically for entertaining, which may include a pool area, eating and bar areas set in incredible outdoor kitchens complete with plumbing, cooking and lighting.
But what about creating a garden space just for yourself? What kind of outdoor space would you use? Here are some ways you can create a deeply personal retreat that will support you and ‘fill your bucket’.
Have you heard of meditation gardens? They are a deeply personal sanctuary – large or tiny – that give you much needed respite from the daily grind.
Remember, the design of these areas in your yard do not need to be elaborate or expensive. It just needs to work for you, so that you can enter the space every day, take a few deep breaths and be renewed.
Pick a spot in your yard that is close enough to the house, so you can easily access it each day. You’ll create a garden room with walls, flooring and décor. This can be as simple or as ornate as you like. Budget is always a consideration, but you’d be surprised at how effective a few thoughtful additions will be.
How will you use the space? Spend time planning it out to ensure that you will use it often.
Will you need room for yoga? Block that out first, and start thinking about ground surfaces that are soft, slip-resistant and supportive.
Do you prefer to laze with a good book? Are you limber enough for a low slung hammock, or do you need a straight backed garden chair?
Do you love your daily cup of tea or coffee? Include room for an outdoor table.
This planning process is it’s own meditation. When we take the time to really prioritize and celebrate our needs, it allows us to continue to give to others without facing the dreaded pain of burn out.
Caregivers are especially vulnerable to this. It’s not selfish, it’s self-care and it is important.
High powered executive? Consider this a strategic life decision, part of a comprehensive plan to support more effective decision-making.
Draw a map of your space. Is there a close neighbor or unsightly view? Start by introducing a simple screen at the back edge of your private space to create the walls of your room.
Plant an evergreen like Green Giant Arborvitae, which are fast growing and can be planted close together to make a screen in a short period of time. In warmer climates, you may consider using Italian Cypress or even holly plants that have shiny evergreen foliage all year long.
In the short term, use a temporary screen such as a large houseplant or folding screen. Grow vines such as clematis or honeysuckle along a trellis. Visual privacy is important to help you feel safe and let go.
Next, select plants that have some meaning for you. Scented plants like Lilac bushes take you back to fond memories.
Pick some of your favorites, but do keep in mind that plant selection may be dictated by the amount of sun or shade that your new backyard retreat receives. Shady meditation rooms can rely on Hosta and other foliage plants rather than sun-loving flowering plants.
Using plants that are of similar colors creates harmony in your new space but contrasting bold colors will energize the space. All of the parts to contribute to the whole. There is no right answer!
Nature Hills offers plenty of options for perennials and ground covers that work for your area. Read the Plant Highlight Facts to see how large the plants will get. Use large, medium, small and tiny plants to fill the space as full as you’d like.
Consider adding plants with different texture and form. It can be very effective to juxtapose different types against each other. Contemplate the differences between velvety Lamb’s Ear and spare, lean and elegant Yucca.
Don’t forget to include some native plants that will attract wildlife to your space. Have you ever just sat and watched butterflies dance around your yard? Include plants that will attract them and beautiful birds, too.
Consider adding plants with different texture and form. It can be very effective to juxtapose different types against each other. Contemplate the differences between velvety Lamb’s Ear and spare, lean and elegant Yucca. Rounded versus elongated. Rough versus soft. Large versus small. Dynamic garden design can whisper to you mysteries of the deep story of life.
Now develop a focal point in the area that has the screen of plants in place. Use small rocks to outline the shape of a labyrinth for daily contemplation. Haul in and place a large boulder or create a special sculpture.
Use what speaks to you and brings you joy. This is truly a “no judgement” zone.
Perhaps you have an appreciation for Japanese garden design. Include an interesting weeping form of a colorful tree or a breathtaking Japanese Maple with their evocative, luscious leaves.
Apartment dwellers can use a small Citrus tree in a beautiful container as a wonderful focal point. Take time to study the growing new fruit as a real lesson in change and gratitude. You’ll love enjoying the ripe fruit as a very special treat.
Special Roses make a great focal point. Why not try the world-famous Peace Rose as a starting point?
Soft, cushiony surfaces encourage you to slip your shoes off and wiggle your toes. Thick grass, or easy care groundcovers such as English Ivy, Creeping Thyme, or Golden Creeping Jenny can be used.
You’ll want to include a path from your house to the space in your planning. Winding paths can add a delightful sense of anticipation and destination.
If you’ll do yoga in the space, consider building a sturdy platform deck out of splinter-free composite decking. Rugged exterior storage boxes can hold your mat, blocks and other props.
Imagine yourself performing the Golden Lotus meditation surrounded by the natural sounds, sights and scents of your own Meditation Garden. Learn more about the basics of mindful meditation at the Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship website.
As they say, take time to smell the Roses. Study the heart of the rose to gain insight into the natural world. Plants connect us to the past, ground us in the present, and give us hope for the future. We hope you’ll enjoy your fabulous new Meditation Garden!