Workplace stress is no longer something that can be ignored.
According to surveys, around 80% of people in the U.S. experience workplace stress.
Around 41% of people say that stress has led to a significant drop in their productivity levels.
American companies are losing more than $300 billion every year due to stress-related absenteeism, medical bills, and reduced performance.
At this point, it’s not even something that will go away with a few mental health workshops and weekly happy hours.
You need deeper systemic changes and conscious environmental change. That means also going beyond the standard terrace lounges as de-stress options.
When the mundaneness of urban spaces and everyday work is getting to you, more rooms are not what you need.
This is where biophilia can help.
Whether you have an open rooftop space, a large deck, or an empty parking lot out back… All of these can be used to create a peaceful garden, for visitors or employees to truly unwind in.
But how can one cut out the urban clutter and create a comforting sanctuary?
Here are 5 simple steps to create a peaceful garden, no matter where you are.
1. Layer plants to block out noise
The first step to creating a peaceful bubble is to cut out the stress-inducing urban noise that surrounds us every day.
Think cars honking, doors slamming, people chattering, coffee machines whirring, heels clacking, etc.
While it can be hard to create a space of total quiet, plants can help filter out much of the noise when used right.
For maximum impact, be sure to layer your garden boundaries thickly.
Use topiaries and dense hedges as your first layer of defense.
Their high density will offer you both a visual as well as an auditory barrier from the rest of the world outside. Plus, they give you a neutral background to start building the rest of your garden.
Pro tip: Use outdoor artificial topiary trees and hedges along the boundary. Weeding, trimming, and maintaining live hedges, hidden behind layers of other dense plants can be a nightmare.
Now, you can carefully add on layers of heavy trees, and delicate plants in patterns that fit your theme.
2. Add a water feature for a revitalized ambiance
This might surprise you, but being in and around water has been seen to slow down brain waves in people.
Researchers and psychologists still can’t quite put their finger on why it happens, but for now, we know for sure: being around water is good for your mental health.
Its mere presence can instantly transform a person’s mood, uplift spirits, and calm down a racing mind.
So let the water flow.
If you have a large space, create small channels or streams of flowing water through the garden. Play with the levels of the land so the streams start from or end at a mini-waterfall for added impact.
In smaller gardens, bring in classic fountains that liven up spaces with the revitalizing sound of falling water.
Or if you’re aiming for a more Zen-like ambiance, take advantage of the calming impact of still water pools.
Whether it’s a small pool built into the ground or a large urn filled with water, place a few lotuses in it, and soak in the peace.
3. Choose relaxing, biophilic furniture to unwind in
Once the perfect trees, water features, and hedges have been chosen and installed, it’s time to turn our attention to the biophilic design furniture.
Needless to say, the chair, bench, or platform you sit on has a huge impact on your mood and garden experience.
So skip the hastily placed hard-backed chairs that look and feel like an awkward intrusion in the carefully crafted oasis.
Choose furniture that is both comfortable to lounge in, and also soothing to look at.
Skip the garish plastics and cool metals. Lean towards warm wood tones, calming whites, gentle fabrics, and comforting cushions.
One could even go to the extent of wicker chaises, hanging bamboo chairs, and hammocks.
4. Add some green to the harsh concrete walls
You’re sitting under the relaxing shade of a lush tree, trying to unwind from a hectic workday.
Your eye follows the gently flowing water, cascading along a lush thicket of bushes that line the edge of the garden. When suddenly the soothing green is rudely interrupted, by the bushes ending abruptly on the edge of a harsh, grey concrete wall that slams you back to reality, destroying any sense of comfort and relaxation you had gained in your few minutes there.
Moral of the story? Don’t get lazy and abruptly end the garden, when the building edge begins.
Spruce up the walls with some lively green elements, to make the transition smoother.
Before you shelf, this idea for fear of getting water damage and cracks on the walls from plant roots, consider using artificial plant wall decor.
They are the smarter alternative, that will save you all the maintenance and extra complications that come with having live plants grow on your walls.
While you’re at it, consider using fake plant wall decor on the edges of your garden in general. Use them in front of your parapet walls, railings, or boundary walls, to hide the brick and mortar surrounding your oasis.
5. Soothe all the senses with nature-inspired sounds and smells
Your visual and tactile senses are naturally stimulated in a garden but don’t forget about the rest.
If you don’t have any burbling streams to transport someone to a spring afternoon in a mountain valley, worry not.
Even hidden speakers that softly play water sounds can have a similar impact. If that’s not for you, consider playing some soothing instrumental music, or use wind chimes to create a spa-like ambiance.
Finally, choose fragrant flowering plants, herbs, and trees to create a soothing ambiance.
For the most impact, plant these aromatic greens close to the furniture or seating areas.
If your local weather, garden theme, or maintenance abilities don’t support plants like that, then fret not. Artificial scent diffusers can pretty much do the same job. Use strategically placed diffusers to transform a visitor’s mood the moment they into the garden.