When thinking about creating a relaxing garden, it can be tempting to bring in plenty of plants, garden furniture, and seating from the get-go, which can quickly become overwhelming with upkeep and feel overcrowded.
Thankfully, there are simple ways to infuse a relaxed softness into your garden design. From straightforward elements that encourage a stress-free outdoor environment to more elaborate ideas that will help you unwind, we have compiled a few of our favourites to help you relax in the garden.
1. Fragrant Plants
Choosing fragrant plants and flowers for your garden has been proven to have calming effects and look beautiful in spring and summer. From the classic calming scent of lavender to adding lemon balm to a garden path or nicotiana to bring a sweet fragrance to the evening air, your senses will welcome the floral notes. Lastly, the meditative routine of caring for plants is a great way to unwind and is rewarding when you observe all the visiting wildlife.
2. Create a Sense of Enclosure
The comfort of a garden is the feeling you can hide away, let your mind wander and relax. When designing your relaxing garden, think about how you could create privacy and limited outside distractions– maybe it’s a climbing rose to create a denser fence line or a pagoda to give a visual distance from neighbouring windows.
You may already have a wall or a hedge on your neighbouring boundary that you can use and soften with climbing plants – Sinesis is a quick climber that also provides scent. If feeling more ambitious, you can also closely plant silver ash trees to create a boundary which still spills through sunlight and a breeze.
3. Curves, not straight lines
From winding paths that make you feel like you are going on a journey to a curved border, which hides your endpoint, there is something ethereal about not seeing your endpoint. You can bring this together with a garden path to follow. Maybe a meadow-mowed trail or stepping stones that lead you to your calm garden spot.
4. A soft seat goes a long way
Maybe obvious, but we sit somewhere longer if we are comfortable. Add a couple of cushions to your wooden bench, a deck chair or a hammock to laze into. If you opt for garden furniture, just be mindful of any upkeep – you can get covers, but you can also choose durable materials for the British weather.
5. Add a water feature
From the sound of moving water to the visiting wildlife, a water feature is a lovely addition to a relaxing garden. Look for ways to bring them into the garden beds, or if in a small space, place them against a wall, and add a light so the water reflects up the wall for a rhythmic calm.
Running water is a relaxing sound and triggers the most primal auditory senses to help you sit back and enjoy your garden.
6. Wildlife is the way
Encouraging wildlife is a great way to bring a sense of freedom to your garden – encouraging visiting birds, pollinators, hedgehogs and many more.
Choose early flowering plants for pollinators like borage, sweet peas and long flowering salvias to bring the bees and butterflies; you can also opt for a wildflower meadow – even in pots. Add a bird bath or feeders; most visiting wildlife will appreciate a drink; if you would like hedgehogs, make sure there is a clear exit, as solid walls or fences will keep them out.
It goes without saying; you will also want to keep your pesticides to a minimum and instead opt for natural alternatives to deal with pests on plants.
7. Movement in planting
Working with the natural elements is a great way to add a sense of calm to your garden design; try adding long grasses that will move with the wind, or verbena bonariensis or ammi majus that add a lighter layer of movement on top of your garden border. Think also about trees and shrubs that will cast warming shadows in the afternoon light.
8. The difference in light
Setting the scene with lighting can make all the difference to your calming garden. You can introduce warming tones with a fire pit or well-placed hurricanes that light your pathway to an enclosed hideaway.
Setting the right mood in your garden will help you unwind after a long day. Complete with enclosures for privacy, a soft seat, and scents and movement, your home garden will look beautiful and offer a calming environment to let go of the day.