Sometimes, we just need a place to escape from life. A space to sit and enjoy that cup of coffee before heading out into the world, a place to listen to the birds and watch butterflies flutter or a space to go to after a long day at work to reflect on the day and get rid of our worries and stress.

This area can be like an outdoor room. Where can you find such a space? Sometimes, you can find that place right in your own yard.

Benefits of serene surroundings

Several articles define serenity gardens as a place of peace and repose, a garden of quiet reflection dedicated to making you feel calm and relaxed. Studies show that gardening has a positive impact on our mental health.

Those who enjoy gardens are said to have greater life satisfaction, enhanced self-esteem, fewer feelings of depression and reduced stress, anger and blood pressure.

Garden is within answers

Look at magazines and books to help you develop ideas. Know what you like, and design a plan. Look at your yard and decide where you can locate the garden. How complicated or simple do you want your serenity garden?

What type of plants will you use? What colors should you select? Is there a theme you want to use?

Whatever you decide, it should be filled with items that bring you peace and enjoyment.

Colors in the garden

Too much color or too many colors can be over-stimulating to the visual senses.

Soft vs. bold

Green and white colors tend to be associated with calmness and are refreshing. Soft pastels with gray foliage is seen as soft and delicate or subtle. Soft colors are one way to set a restful mood. Soft colors are blue, purple, pink, blue gray and white.

Hot colors such as red, orange and yellow could be used if you wanted a bold accent.

Monochromatic colors (using only one color) could be used.

Effects of color

One could use the color of blue in various shades to create a cool, soothing and calm area. An all-white garden area also has a calming effect. People tend to think of white as orderly, clean, pure and wholesome.

Plant selections

One tip regarding color would be to keep the color scheme simple by limiting the number of contrasting plants.

There are many plants that are fragrant. You do not want the fragrance to be too strong. Herbs like dill, fennel, rosemary and basil are fragrant and could be used as well. Vines can be used to attract wildlife. When choosing plants, remember the sun or shade requirements.

Entrance to garden

There should be a walkway or pathway to your garden. It should be 40 inches wide; consider a curve. The walkway can be of concrete, mulch, pea gravel, crushed granite, stone or even grass. An unusual gate could be used, making the entrance even more interesting and inviting.

Other features

Once you have issued the invitation to a serenity garden via an entrance, other features can bring comfort and calm.

Flowing water

Who doesn't like the sound of water? Even birds enjoy it. Water can help muffle noises and is soothing.

Outdoor furniture

Another feature to consider might be a bench, rockers, a sofa or chairs to sit on. Furniture can be concrete, wood, iron, wicker and even plastic. For color and comfort, pillows can be added. What about a swing?

Garden structures/art

A pergola or gazebo can add privacy and intimacy to your garden. Plants can be placed in pots or containers and arranged as needed. Yard art, colored bottles, hanging baskets and bird and squirrel feeders can also fill your serenity garden.

Focal point

A focal point should be the center of your interest that draws your eye in. It could be anything from a bubbling fountain, bird bath, fire pit, trellis, arbor or gazebo that is placed in the middle of your garden. It could be a bed with a statue, a beautiful shrub or a rustling cluster of grasses.

Outbuildings or sheds, decorated with yard art can be part of the perimeter to your garden, providing a wonderful backdrop.

Sit back, enjoy

It is amazing how much pleasure a well-landscaped area can bring. The simplest spot can become a destination. It can be as simple as two chairs under a canopy of trees. Make it a no-cellphone area. Just let your landscape pull you in - sit back and enjoy.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com.

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