Blueprint for Beauty


By Melanie Haiken  |  

So you’d like to transform your outdoor space? Whether your garden is large or small, here are some tips from the experts to help you create your very own restorative retreat.

1. Visualize Your Ideal

To feel at ease in your garden, you want to create a space that speaks deeply to you, says landscape designer Jack Carman. This often means recreating landscape features that surrounded us in childhood, whether that means familiar plants or stones from a river. “Emulate the natural qualities of a familiar place,” says Marguerite Koepke of the University of Georgia’s School of Environmental Design. “This helps you reconnect with what’s known to you and make the mind-body reconnection that reduces stress.”

2. Plan for Privacy

Most of us don’t want the neighbors watching us
struggle to stay in a pose. “Ideally you want enclosures, places of repose, screened areas,” says Clare Cooper Marcus, author of Healing Gardens. What’s more, says P. Annie Kirk, who runs RedBird Designs in Portland, Oregon, “it’s very important to include an element of overhead canopy to give a sense of protection. It must go back to our ancestors on the savannah taking cover under the trees.”

3. Keep Comfort in Mind

Physical comfort is an all-important consideration, especially if you plan to practice yoga in your garden. “If you stick your garden on the northwest side of your house where it’s always windy, you won’t want to go out there,” says Naomi Sachs, director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center, an educational nonprofit in Beacon, New York. Plan carefully to make sure your garden meets your needs. If you enjoy practicing yoga with your
children, create a space big enough for everyone. If
you do lots of inversions, put your yoga area against the side of the house, so you have a wall to work with. If you use a lot of props, add a storage box.