Many of us are seeking calm moments throughout our increasingly busy days. Not only should our homes provide us with peace and comfort, but we should also find that tranquil balance in our lawns and gardens, the natural extension of our homes.
One way to make sure your garden brings you a sense of calm is to form it into a balanced space. A great way to do that is to develop an elemental garden.
A cohesive area can be created by incorporating all of Earth’s basic elements. Featuring fire, water, wind, and earth throughout your yard creates a space that is balanced, welcoming, functional, and restorative.
From simple DIY to more involved installations, there are tons of options for crafting an elemental garden that is unique to you.
In the cold of the winter or the warmth of the summer, a fire feature is something that can be used year-round in your elemental garden. A fire pit, either handmade or store bought, is a great way to incorporate this element of light and heat. Fire pits are great to warm cool nights, and to deter pests with smoke during the warmer months.
A pit may be the most obvious way to incorporate fire into your outdoor space, but it’s not the only option. If you need something on a smaller scale (like if your homeowners’ association doesn’t allow fire pits or burn piles) consider decorating your outdoor seating area with candles or torches, and light them when you go out to enjoy the evenings.
Installing an outdoor pizza oven or grill is another great way to bring fire into your yard. Not only can a small outdoor cooking area be beautiful, but it’s incredibly useful, both for entertaining and for every day. If some August nights are too hot to even imagine cooking inside and heating up the house, use your outdoor setup. Cooking outdoors can help you to feel more connected to nature, particularly if some elements of your meal came from your own garden.
Water in the garden is vital for your plants, but also can add enjoyment for animals, and of course, for you. Just like with the other elements, your water feature can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.
One easy way to incorporate water into the landscape of your yard is to think of the wildlife that most often use your space alongside your family. Adding a birdbath to your yard is a wonderful way to provide your backyard birds with hydration and enrichment, and provides entertainment for you, too.
On an even smaller scale, bees can be helped immensely by people setting out shallow dishes for them. Place pebbles in the dish, then pour water not quite to the height of the pebbles, allowing the bees some dry spaces within the dish to safely rest while they drink.
If you love the sound of running water, installing a fountain is a great option. With running water, you’ll find that you will spend less time cleaning your water feature, because it will be more difficult for algae to form in moving water. Ready-made fountains can be found at big box stores, or a landscaping service can construct something one-of-a-kind that will fit perfectly into the existing landscape in your yard.
To take it one step further, some gardens can even accommodate a small pond. Not only can a pond soothe those who look at it, but it gives you the option to cultivate aquatic plants.
Featuring air in your garden requires a slightly different approach, because unlike the other elements, it’s not something that you can have complete control over, without the aid of installed fans. Instead, you want to place things in your garden that will call attention to the wind when it passes through.
One of the best ways to capture the presence of air as it moves through your outdoor space is to incorporate natural elements that will allow you to view the near-constant influence that wind has on your yard. Trees with slender branches and leaves prone to rustling, like willows, show even the slightest breeze as it passes by.
Ornamental and prairie grasses also beautifully capture the energy of the wind, as you are able to see and hear as the air moves past these plants. The scents of fragrant plants are stirred and carried to garden visitors on warm breezes, and you can see the the flourishing of wind-pollinated plants as the growing season progresses. Strong gusts late in the year scatter seeds and insure there will be new growth when spring comes again.
In addition to natural elements that highlight the wind as it moves through your space, there are many decorative pieces available that do just that. Windmills of various shapes, sizes, and materials can harvest the wind in a pleasing way that draws the eye. Installing an old-fashioned weather vane helps connect you to the wind by forcing you to notice the direction from which it’s blowing.
Hang wind chimes to hear signs of the wind while you enjoy the rhythmic swinging of the chimes. Wind chimes made of metal, wood, or ceramic provide a wide array of sounds and pick up even the slightest breezes, calling you to notice the frequent movement of the air around you.
If you already have a lawn or garden, earth is already all around you! The trick is to call attention to the earth in an intentional and appealing way.
This can be done by exposing soil in your garden beds, causing you and others to think about how the earth is nourishing to your plants. Use raised beds to get some earth closer to your level, helping you to be sure to pay attention to the soil around you.
Consider displaying collections of rocks in your plant beds, or spacing large rocks throughout your landscape. Making dirt, sand, or stone paths that lead you around to the other elements featured in your garden is a great way to further enhance the balance in your elemental garden.
Once you have all of these elements easily observable right outside your door, the sense of balance around your home will be enhanced. There’s no limit to the combinations of features you can use to achieve this serene balance, and bringing them together will not only increase your tranquility, but also exercise your garden creativity.