Does the stress of the day have you longing for an outdoor escape? Instead of obsessing over your next vacation, consider unwinding in the peace and security of your own backyard oasis. Having a serene open-air space mere steps away can provide sunshine and fresh air for the whole family.
Studies have shown people who spend time in nature are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Even if you happen to be short on room, however, it’s more than possible to transform a deck, patio or courtyard into a beautiful place of refuge. Here are some words of advice to create a stress-reducing garden getaway.
Create a Backyard Oasis by Decluttering
The first recommendation is to declutter. While starting with a totally blank canvas isn’t necessary, bringing a backyard oasis to life takes a tidy work area and some planning. Begin by pruning any overgrown trees and hedges, donating unused play equipment, and clearing away any waste.
Plan out Your Ideal Space
Once the space feels bare, take stock of its natural elements, and formulate a plan for anything you want changed. Do you want a water feature, a swimming pool or an outdoor dining area, or do you want to emphasize being one with nature? Whatever your vision, be sure to keep relaxation first and foremost.
When it comes to furniture, you’ll want to opt for deep seating, lounge chairs and other patio furnishings that encourage everyone to stretch out and relax. Choose textured fixtures designed to withstand the elements and in the colors you love. Another handy tip is to invest in deck furniture that can double as storage, such as an ottoman or bench. This way, pads and pillows can stay clean longer.
Personalize your Backyard Oasis
How else can the space be made your own? Simply decorate it with pieces that speak to you. Whether you prefer unique planters and bird baths or colorful artwork and décor, the space ought to reflect your personality while coinciding with the beauty of nature. Hanging string lights and other outdoor lighting is another great way to set the mood. However, be careful not to overdo it on the décor, as it could upset the flow and make the yard look smaller.
Aside from adding a water feature or sculpture as the focal point, try planting favorite flowers, natural foliage and other plant life. Greenery can help boost moods and doesn’t need to be big to make a major impression. For instance, container gardens are a simple option for small spaces, and they are inexpensive and easy to maintain.
Get Help From a Pro
You can also invest in landscaping. Hiring a professional service to survey property lines, design your backyard oasis and install a perimeter could produce a result far exceeding your expectations. From landscaped hedges, shrubbery or privacy fencing, the possibilities of transforming your outdoor living area are limitless.
For more ways to create the backyard oasis of your dreams, please see the following infographic.
Danny Rodic is a co-owner of Apex Land Surveying and Mapping LLC. Rodic has over 28 years of experience in the land surveying industry, providing a broad range of land surveying services to clients. Rodic is a licensed professional land surveyor in Colorado and Wisconsin.
Being outdoors has several incredible benefits for moms, but it’s not always easy to do. Trying to juggle kids, plus housework – it’s not uncommon for a stay at home mom’s outdoor exposure to be limited to an open window. And when we do get outside, it’s usually to chase after the kids or do more work outdoors. Some of these self care ideas can help moms get outdoors with the sole intention of rest and relaxation.
Try one of these outdoor self care ideas this summer!
1. Go for a walk or run around the block
One of the easiest outdoor self care ideas is to go for a walk or jog around your own neighborhood. It doesn’t cost anything, require any scheduling or take up much time. Whether you’re in the mood for a marathon run or just a leisurely stroll – your own neighborhood is the best place to start!
2. Pump your legs on a playground swing
Moms always seem to get the boring jobs at playgrounds. We stand at the bottom of slides, push our kids on the swings and hold their legs as they attempt to make their way across the monkey bars. Instead of being a playground servant – free your inner child and go for a swing or a slide!
3. Visit an outdoor spa
Outdoor spas are becoming more and more popular these days. The benefits of fresh air and nature are unmatched by anything else. Check out a Scandinavian-style spa, a hot spring, or soak in an outdoor hot tub.
Nothing says relaxation quite like napping in a hammock on a hot summer day. The gentle swaying motion is sure to lull you into a relaxed state, just like a baby in a cradle. Plus, the light summer breeze and sunshine on your face provides the perfect atmosphere.
6. Spend some time gardening
Another excellent self care idea is to start a backyard garden. Digging your bare hands or feet into the soil is actually good for your mental health, as soil contains a special bacteria that works like a natural antidepressant. Caring for a garden is sure to get you outdoors all summer long and at the end of the season, you’ll have a healthy batch of crops to show for it!
7. Go for a bike ride
Park the minivan and go for a bike ride instead. It’s not a practical form of transportation for everyday life, but going for a bike ride regularly has it’s benefits. Biking improves your physical health and can be an enjoyable form of self care, either alone or with the whole family. If you want to lose weight or get fit, you can amp up the intensity of your rides to burn calories faster. Cycling interval training, which is essentially alternating between periods of low-intensity and high-intensity cycling, can provide the workout to help your shed off those extra pounds and get more fit. For interval training, using cycling tools, such as a power meter and a heart-rate monitor, can help ensure that you make every session count and that you accomplish your goals.
8. Enjoy a picnic in the park
Another simple activity to get you outdoors is to eat one of your meals picnic-style. You can go to a park or eat in your own backyard. Spread a picnic blanket or gather around an outdoor table. Go out on your own, with your spouse or as an entire family… the kids will love it just as much as you will.
9. Shop a local farmers market
Local farmers markets sell much more than just fruit and vegetables these days. You can find all kinds of organic, locally made things like health and beauty products, jewelry, clothing and so much more! Not only is it wonderful to support local businesses, but you’ll get your hands on food and products that are so much better for your health.
10. Camp out for a night or two
Camping is not for everyone. In fact, most mothers with small children will swear that it’s more work than anything else. Even “glamping“ has it’s pitfalls. Once traveling out of town becomes safer, you should definitely try camping outdoors. It will do wonders for your and your family’s mental health to be surrounded by nature after being cooped inside for months. For outdoor activities, a lightweight backpack for travelers is indispensable for all your camping essentials.
11. Pick some wildflowers
Fresh flowers have a way of brightening up anyone’s home. One of the simplest self care ideas is to pick some yourself. Obviously, don’t invade your neighbor’s prize tulips, but anyone with a lilac bush will surely be glad to let you help trim it back. Fields and parks are usually full of all kinds of wildflowers. Or sprinkle some wildflower seeds in your yard this spring and have an abundant supply all summer long.
12. Go for a boat ride
Being on the water in a middle of a lake is a wonderful way to help clear your mind. You can literally get away from it all. Choose a hot day because there’s nothing quite like the breeze off the water. But beware, the rocking motion of a boat can be soothing for some – not so much for others.
13. Volunteer to walk a dog from a pet shelter
If you don’t have your own furry friend to take along with you on walks, then check out if your local pet shelter needs volunteers. The dogs there are always in need of some extra love and you can both benefit from spending some time together.
14. Paint your nails
What’s the most annoying thing about painting your nails? Waiting for them to dry. Use that as an excuse to get outside and stay outside. Paint your nails and then relax in a lounge chair without any need to get up. You can even try a face mask, soak your feet or exfoliate your skin outdoors. Take the pampering outdoors, I promise you wont regret it.
15. Swim or float in a lake or outdoor pool
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise and perfect for hot summer days. If you’re looking for something more relaxing, then blow up an inflatable tube and float around on the water without a care.
16. Build a bird house, bat house or bee hive
Sometimes stress and frustration can build up and come out in undesirable ways. Finding a creative outlet for all those pent up emotions is a great form of self care. Try building your own bird house or bat house for your yard. Not only will you be doing nature a favor, but you can help control the pesky mosquito population. If you have a garden, making your own bee hive can increase your crop production!
17. Spend a night star gazing
If it’s a clear night outside, lay down a blanket and watch the stars. Head outside the city and away from the street lights for a better view. Star gazing is a great form of stress and anxiety relief and can remind you of just how small your problems are in this giant world.
18. Sit on the beach
A beach day is one of my favorite self care ideas. Get out your lounge chair or blanket, a beach umbrella and some sunglasses and relax in the sand. Dig your feet into the wet sand to exfoliate and massage them. Cool yourself off in the water. Listen to the sounds of the waves, the seagulls and the children playing.
19. Visit a greenhouse or garden center
Greenhouses are fantastic places to look for inspiration for your own backyard. From plants and flowers to water features and deck ideas, you can create your own back yard self care sanctuary. Focusing on an outdoor project can help keep your mind sharp and distracted in a good way.
20. Have a bonfire
Sitting around a bonfire is an excellent stress reliever. The smell of the wood, and crackling of the flames is a feast for the senses. Roast marshmallows or hot dogs if you want to. It’s a nice treat anytime of the day, not just for nights at the cabin.
21. Visit a farm
Spending time with animals is great for our mental health and considered a form of ecotherapy. There are usually lots of local farms that open up to visitors. You can pet animals, ride horses, climb up hay bales, milk a cow or collect eggs from the hen house.
22. Watch the sunrise
While I would never deliberately encourage a mom to lose out on sleep – getting up early to watch the sunrise can be totally worth it. The way the sunlight moves slowly over everything is breathtaking. You can meditate, do yoga or just sip some hot coffee. It’s an amazing way to start the day.
23. Do some fruit picking
Spend the day at an orchard or strawberry farm. Not only will you get to experience the beauty of it all, but you’ll get to go home with some fresh, organic fruit as a result.
24. Take nature pictures
Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a selfie queen, nature provides an endless supply of photo ops. Try taking pictures of the birds, the trees or a sunset. If you get a really good shot, have it printed and framed and you’ve just created a free piece of art for your walls.
25. Dance in the rain
Getting outdoors isn’t reserved just for the hot summer days. Even rain storms can be beautiful. The next time it rains, don’t run and hide. Ditch the umbrella, kick off your shoes and dance in the rain. Embrace it and let all your cares wash away.