Create a Relaxing Garden Space

Use these design tips to help create the outdoor oasis you've always imagined.
Natural Elements Make Good Focal Point in Garden

Natural Elements Make Good Focal Point in Garden

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Natural elements such as a piece of gnarled wood or a stone monolith make ideal focal points. A reflective, weathered mirror or metallic orb can add magic, as can a well sited bubble fountain.

From: DK Books - Gardeners Guide

Even in the heart of the city, a garden can be an oasis of peace and tranquility. Cocooned by lush foliage and soft-colored blooms and soothed by the sounds of nature, you can escape day-to-day pressures and feel rejuvenated. 

Begin establishing your own private sanctuary by blurring garden boundaries. Create deep, curving borders, and fill them with a number of plants that are head height or taller. Surprisingly, this makes the garden feel larger, while dense planting muffles surrounding noise. Wind chimes, rustling grasses, or a trickling fountain are also pleasingly distracting. Where space is limited, use screening plants like bamboos, strategically placed trees, or a climber-clad pergola to block overlooking windows.

For a contemplative atmosphere, choose muted blues and purples against a green backdrop. Keep lines simple and open spaces uncluttered; try a large, simple container for sculptural contrast or a statue as a point of focus.

Key Design Elements for a Relaxing Garden Space

  • Simple containers: Use large pots with intriguing shapes, colors, or textures as focal points. Weathered terra-cotta, oxidized metal, and partially glazed finishes all work well. Plant simply, using topiary or grasses.
  • Spiritual features: Sculptures such as a Buddha or an angel provide a good focus for contemplation, as do plaques and paving carrying quotations or symbols. Place in a reflective space in dappled shade or beside a pool.
  • Gentle sounds: Hang wind chimes, or set up outdoor speakers to pipe soft music into the garden. For sounds of nature, plant whispering grasses and bamboos, and encourage birds and bees into the garden.
  • Relaxing water: A natural pond or reflecting pool creates a peaceful ambiance. Arrange water features to give a gentle trickling sound rather than loud gushing. Adjust the flow to make the sound less hollow.
  • Focal points: Natural elements such as a piece of gnarled olive wood or a stone monolith make ideal focal points. A reflective, weathered mirror or metallic orb can add magic, as can a well-sited bubble fountain.
  • Informal seating: Avoid hi-tech steel and glass, and go for wicker effect and sturdy wooden chairs. A stone or roughly chiseled wooden bench would also work well. Choose sculptural pieces with flowing, organic lines.
  • Subtle screening: The pattern and color of bamboo stems are a striking feature. Strip the bottom portion of leaves, and thin weak stems to reveal their beauty. Use to create partial screens that rustle in the breeze.

Other Additions to Consider:

  • Grounding experience: Create a treat for tired feet by designing walkways made of grass, stone, and wood.
  • Soothing shades: Include soft grays, greens, and pinks for their calming and therapeutic effects.
  • Heaven scents: Introduce heady rose, jasmine, and honeysuckle scents, as well as aromatic herbs.

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