We were delighted to hear about the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30x30 Nature Challenge. The benefits of connecting with nature are at the core of why we do what we do at Land Studio East.
Many of us intuitively understand the value of spending time in nature: we feel calmer, happier and more connected.
For those less inclined to trust intuition, we now have many great studies that show that time in nature, or even a view of nature, reduces stress: lowers blood pressure and cortisol, makes us happier: decreases anxiety and depression, increases work productivity and focus, and reduces symptoms of ADD.
We are also aware of how challenging it can be to access nature daily when you live in a city.
There are few elements of nearby nature - natural areas or parks within a 20 minute walk of my house. I often end up driving or biking outside of the city to access wilderness. Thankfully, I have a small backyard that fulfills my nature needs on a day-to-day basis.
For city dwellers, suburbanites and country folk who prefer to stay close to home, here are 5 ways to enhance your property for nature connection.
1. Find the Perfect Sitting Area
If you can find a comfortable space - protected from the wind, sunny in the cool season, shaded in the heat of summer, with a cozy seat - you’re more likely to spend time there. It’s the spot for morning coffee, a post-work cocktail, board games with the kids and dinner with your love. If you find a great spot, work it and use it.
2. Create Enclosure
Enclosure can help you feel safe and secluded in an urban setting. If you have space, plant trees, shrubs, vines or espaliered trees around your property's perimeter, inside the fence, if you have one. This will blur your property boundary, increase privacy and create a lush vertical feature that mimics the edge of a forest.
3. Consider Views from Favourite Indoor Spaces
I live in a cool maritime climate with late springs and a lot of rain, so I know it’s not always easy to get outside in bad weather. Thankfully studies show even a view of nature can lower stress and increase focus. When designing your garden, consider key views from inside, your favourite reading chair for example, keep these views open and plant beautiful plants within sight.
4. Attract Wildlife
Life attracts life. Water, shelter and food bring wildlife. Consider a water feature, bird feeder, bat house and plants that produce food - for you and the fauna.
5. Plant Sensory Plants
Plants that move, rattle with the wind, or have inviting textures enhance your connection with nature. These plants stimulate your senses and bring you into the present moment. Choose trees that tremble, ornamental grasses that sway or fuzzy plants that beckon to be touched.
All of these changes will encourage you to get outside, stay outside and enhance your connection while you’re there.
What changes can you make in the next week to up your backyard’s nature quotient? You might scout out the best sitting spot and add a pair of chairs, put up a bird feeder or stop by your local garden centre to select plants that appeal to your senses.
Please share this with friends and neighbours who you think could benefit from more nature connection and let us know what changes you’ll make in the comments below.
And I haven’t forgotten those of you without a yard, I’ve been there. I’ll do a future post just for you.