National Garden Meditation Day is May 3, but I suspect this holiday isn’t even on your radar. I’m here to tell you that it should be. Life is not for the faint of heart, with its many ups and downs and sideways curves. So when things get entirely too stressful, it’s nice to have a natural outdoor space where you can relax, unwind, and recharge. For those of you who are skeptical of the need to make time for meditation, let’s run through a brief recap of some of its benefits: Stress reduction, anxiety control, better emotional health, enhanced self-awareness, longer attention span, improved sleep, pain control, and decreased blood pressure. And now that you’re convinced, it’s time to talk about taking your porch, pergola, or deck to the next level of Zen. That’s right, folks – the backyard is not just for BBQs.

Start by making a plan. Do you have a small or large area with which to work? Are you thinking of using the whole space or just a section? Do you think you might need to add space with new construction, and if so, how will the garden work within this space? Reach out to us at Services Rendered, Inc. for inspiration as we have some great design ideas for decks, pergolas, and porches that will facilitate the creation of your unique meditation garden.

Next, consider the elements of your meditation garden, bearing these things in mind:

    • Privacy is critical when building your outdoor meditation space. Walls, fences, curtains, partitions, or natural barriers such as ferns, feather reed grass, and bamboo create a sense of privacy and seclusion, even if the busy world is only a few hundred feet away.
    • A chair, hammock, bench, yoga mat, or even lush patches of groundcover plants like Irish or Scotch moss, provide a comfortable and relaxing space for seated meditation.
    • Trees have multiple functions in a meditation space. They provide shade and privacy, but also lend character and ambiance to the spot. Weeping willows will recall lazy summer days by a riverside, while quaking aspens can transplant you to faraway mountain meadows. Both trees have fast growth rates, which means you won’t have to wait long to enjoy their benefits. You can also design your meditation garden around already existing trees.
    • Moving water is a natural relaxer, so a pond, waterfall, or other water feature is a must-have for your meditative space. If you do end up adding koi or goldfish to your pond, make sure to get the proper filtration system installed and be aware that having these fish may be low-maintenance, but it’s not no-maintenance.
    • Aromatic flowers and plants delight the senses and invite wildlife to come and join in your meditation. Lavender, culinary herbs (sage, thyme, mint, etc.), bee balm, German chamomile, Melissa, and calendula are some great aromatics to incorporate into your space. You can also wrap your pergola or deck in vines like wisteria, ivy, or honeysuckle to enhance privacy and evoke a sense of serenity.
    • Boulders/rocks, sand, gravel, and small statues are all forms of Zen gardening that will add a sense of spiritual grounding to your garden.
    • Curving paths lined with paving stones and elliptical designs will create a sense of grace and flow, adding to the area’s peacefulness.
    • Ambient lighting in the form of string lights or hanging lanterns will allow your space to become a meditation haven after dark as well.
    • Try hanging baritone wind chimes or meditation bells as these sounds can be hypnotic and soothing.

A great starting point is to look through various websites to get ideas on different kinds of gardens worldwide. Take note of the ones that seem to best fit your style of relaxation and your budget. A typical Chinese garden might include a fish pond, a pagoda, little overhanging trees, and small bridges. In contrast, a Southwestern American garden could incorporate more cacti and water-hardy plants, loose rocks or boulders, and a shady tree. Also worth considering is the anticipated maintenance for the garden. Upkeep on a southwestern xeriscaping style will be infinitely cheaper than for a lush English tea garden if you’re building in a high-desert climate like Colorado.

Backyard Mindfulness              Backyard Mindfulness
 (Photo by Casa.com.br)                                          (Photo by Aiken House & Gardens)

Once your plan is complete, your budget is set, and your space and type of garden are picked out, it’s time to go to work. Creating your outdoor meditation garden doesn’t have to be expensive. Chances are, you already have many of the materials listed above somewhere in your house or backyard, and your local home improvement store experts can help you pick out affordable and appropriate plantings. The project will take some time and effort, but in the end, you’ll have a quiet place where you can retreat from the hectic world and reconnect with yourself. Priceless.