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Mother Nature is a kind mistress who provides many healing elements through the senses. From the soothing colors of certain plants to the strong fragrance of flowers, many people find comfort in tending to a therapy garden.
As you stay the CDC-recommended distance away from your neighbors (and strangers), taking part in horticultural therapy as developed by American Horticultural therapy Association may not be available to you. However, starting a home garden still offers many benefits – from therapy to vitamin D to distraction. On this Earth Day, we’ve bringing you a few gardening tips and tricks to help you take full advantage of the therapeutic delights of a home garden.
Find a quiet place
Not to be confused with the movie A Quiet Place – which wasn’t so quiet – therapeutic gardens are places of solace where homeowners can retreat to relax and enjoy vibrant scenery and/or physical activity. If you plan to spend many hours in your garden, it’s imperative you have a comfortable place to sit (with the necessary tools). This can range from a blanketed rock where you can spend hours reading to a place near your flowers where you can tend to their needs.
Enliven your senses
Therapy gardens have a variety of purposes. They can stimulate memories, provide comfort, and improve one’s spirit. When starting a home garden, put consideration into what soothes – or excites – you. If you love the sound and feel of a calming breeze, look for ornamental grasses, such as fountaingrass, switchgrass, and sedge, that sway and provide a soft texture for your hands. If you enjoy strong scents, look to plant fragrant flowers, such as lavender, rosemary, or rose geranium. Vibrant colors can stir your productivity while cooler hues, such as blue and purple, can lower your stress level.
Before planting, understand why you want to plant a therapy garden and then choose your plants and flowers accordingly.
Throw some shade – or don’t
After spending some time indoors, you may want to soak in some important vitamin D. Pick a place in your yard where you’re sure to bask in the sun and enjoy a lovely afternoon among your new green friends. If you’re looking for a place to relax in the Great Outdoors, consider one that gets some shade during the day or add some shade elements, such as large plants or trellises. (Find your perfect trellis – with iron climbing plant trellis to the traditional white picket fence types.) Of course, you want to make sure that your new favorite place gets enough sun for the plants to grow or pick plants that don’t need precious vitamin D.
Get to know your non-human neighbors
In the time of social distancing, ecotherapy is about connecting with nature, so look for plants that will draw more wildlife to your yard. Planting flowers with seed heads, such as coneflowers, welcome finches, cardinals, and other birds into your yard. Coneflowers also attract butterflies, as do milkweed and tihonia. If you love watching the bunnies hop through your garden, plant evergreens and shrubs where they can hide, and introduce berry bushes or other bunny-favorite foods. However, if you’re planting food to attract bunnies, you probably won’t be able to eat that food…if any is left over, that is.
Speaking of food…
Veg out with these plants
Planting vegetables provides bountiful opportunities to calm your spirit. For these gardens, you need to sow, grow, harvest, and chow down once your vegetables are ripe. New gardeners enjoy all the benefits of physical activity, fresh air, increased energy levels, and reduced stress hormones. Harvest vegetables you’ll eat, like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and carrots. Don’t forget to water your vegetables (but don’t overwater them)!
Remember the good times
Therapeutic gardens are meant to be your place to relax, so when starting a home garden, plant comforting flowers and vegetables that make you feel good. If your grandfather grew cherry tomatoes when you were child, then you may want to plant cherry tomatoes. (Of course, if you don’t like cherry tomatoes, maybe choose a different fruit.) As you embrace your favorite memories, you’ll naturally have a better outlook on the future.
Feel good (or better) about your home
While connecting with nature can help you feel better by releasing endorphins and de-stressing your nerves, it also can help improve your home’s value. Research found that “garden landscaping” can improve the value of your home up to 77 percent. As most home buyers weigh the curb appeal of a potential new home highly, having a well-maintained garden can improve the likelihood of your home selling quickly. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if potential homebuyers enjoy the calming scent of lavender as they tour your property.
Enhance your home
Ready to get this garden party started? Check out our do’s and don’ts when starting a home garden. If you find comfort in completing home improvement projects, we have more exterior home tips in our member-exclusive vipTIPs. Not a member? No worries! Sign up today!