making your garden your sanctuary

6 Tips To Making Your Garden Your Sanctuary

Making Your Garden Your Sanctuary

When we first bought our house, there was no garden. There was grass and some trees, but nothing that called me to be outside. I saw that as a challenge – and strongly believed that making your garden your sanctuary would dramatically increase my happiness and decrease my stress.

I was right.

It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Turning your garden into a sanctuary where you can relax surrounded by a little slice of nature is a great way to use your yard that is creative, satisfying and long-lasting. Here are six simple tips to turn your average garden into a sanctuary:

Make Your Garden a Getaway

make your garden your sanctuary lounge

The most important part of making your garden a sanctuary is setting it up as a space that is different from the rest of the home and where you can get away from the things that annoy you or ruin your relaxation inside. For example, if you hate the chaos of toys strewn all over the place inside, make your garden a toy-free zone, or if you go outside to get away from the noise of daily life, do what you can to make your garden a quiet, tranquil space. I love having a space to relax and read a book or just sit and watch the sunset. This is the best way to make your garden your sanctuary.

Erect a Structure

If you live in an area where the weather isn’t always great, it’s a good idea to erect some kind of garden building, preferably as far away from the main house as possible, where you can get some quiet time as you watch the leaves fall and the birds flit from flowers to feeders to birdbath. The Armstrong Steel building company make some very durable buildings which are perfect for this purpose because they’re warm, more waterproof than many other solutions, and very affordable. However, a simple garden pod or even a shed can easily double up as a simple structure, too.

Create Your Own Nook

make your garden your sanctuary lounge

A nice way to get more peace and privacy in the garden is to create your own little nooks by planting shrubs and bushes around a paving or decking area. The plants will help to shield you from prying eyes and muffle noise while looking naturally fabulous and making your garden a lot more beautiful. I decided to make some sort of surprise around every bend in my garden, just to create a bit more happiness.

Install a Fire Pit

There can be few things more tranquil than spending an evening in the garden, huddled around your very own fire, which is why every garden sanctuary should have its own fire pit in place. In northern California our spring, summer and fall evenings are mild, and having a built-in or portable fire pit is such fun! I love putting chairs out on the lawn and having friends and family relax into the evening.

A Water Feature

Water features, like the ones made by the Fountain People, and the sound of running water bring such tranquility and dramatically help make your garden your sanctuary. Water feature, even the most simple of fountains installed close to your seating area, offer just the right ambiance when you need some headspace.

Comfy Furniture

Last, but never least, is comfy furniture. Whether you choose chaise longues, sun loungers, reclining chairs or beanbags, your garden needs to have a wide range of seating available for not just you, but any friends and family who may join you in the garden. A decent sized table where you can eat and drink outdoors in comfort is always essential too. I love mixing and matching furniture and making soft and appealing cushions and pillows to add a little pop of coziness. It’s easy to buy waterproof fabric and recover them from year to year, adding an instant update!

With these features and plenty of beautiful, fragrant flowers in the garden, you’ll easily be on the way to making your garden your sanctuary; I know my garden has given me so much happiness and stress relief, it’s worth every minute! Please share your garden images so I can get more ideas!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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gardening shovel

Tired Of Gardening? You’re Doing It Wrong!

No surprise if you follow my Instagram – I love gardening.

gardening shovel

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Nothing better than gardening!

There’s nothing better in life than a warm summer’s evening in a beautiful garden that you have created yourself. But many people miss out on this incredible experience and opportunity because they feel that gardening is just too much hard work. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Sure, gardening takes a little sweat and elbow grease every now and again, but the truth is if you are slaving away in your garden, you are doing it all wrong. Here are my tips for making gardening an easier – and far more enjoyable – experience.

Feed Your Soil!

First of all, if you want to see your garden grow magnificently, you need to give it the right nutrients. So many people complain about never achieving the perfect lawn, or always experiencing plants die, but the truth is that by testing your soil’s pH levels you will be able to introduce the right minerals and nutrients. Then it’s a simple case of adding some compost every now and again. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that good-quality soil means you won’t have to add fertilizer every other week.

Go Slow Release

Of course, every garden could do with some fertilizer every now and again, but to make your life easier, try using slow release fertilizers. Just make sure that you use organic products, rather than synthetic fertilizers, which can impact the quality of your soil and kill off nutrients. Time released fertilizers, and water polymers are also easy to use, and you only need to lay them when you start planting shrubs, flowers, or grasses.

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Invest in the Right Equipment

It’s not much of a surprise that people hate gardening if the tools they use are not up to scratch. Blunt garden shears, poor quality lawnmowers, a broken wheelbarrow – they can all add up to a frustrating and tiring experience. My advice is to spend some time looking around for better tools and consider spending a little extra on high-quality garden gear. Garden There’s good lists of garden equipment from Mowers Online and other online websites, so do some research and head down to your local garden center with your checkbook. It will make a world of difference to your enjoyment of gardening, make it a lot easier for you, and, ultimately, will give you a better garden finish for less work.

Plan Your Garden

A few weekends of hard work will mean an easier experience in the future. So, put aside some time to sort out your yard, beginning with a good plan. Sketch out your ideal garden and think about what type of plants you want to have in it. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about the types of plant that thrive when together, and need similar maintenance. It will save you a lot of time when it comes to watering, feeding, and caring for your garden if you plan your plants, shrubs, and flowerbeds appropriately. Some plants will love being out in the sun, so target open areas of the backyard that have no cover for these, while others thrive in the shade. There will be an element of difference when it comes to caring for plants, of course, but the heavy maintenance chores like watering and deadheading should all be grouped together to make your life easier.

Install Raised Beds

Part of the problem with unruly gardens is that they have no defined borders. It means that plants will spread over the seasons, and you will end up losing control. Your best bet is to invest some time and energy to creating raised beds. Not only are they much easier to control, but by raising your beds up six inches or so, you will find the work is far less backbreaking than it was before.

gardening daisies

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Go For Perennials

Perennial plants are easy to look after and are hardy, robust, and keep coming back. If you want the most comfortable gardening experience while still retaining a nice look, ensure that the majority of your plants are perennial Consider plants like Sedums and Astilbes which look fantastic all through the flowering season, and need little attention no matter what the weather.

Lay Down Mulch

Putting mulch down is a cheap way of helping your soil retain moisture all through the warm seasons, as well as keeping your plant roots nice and cool – which is essential if you want to keep your plants from dying. Mulch is also a great way of providing a professional looking finish to your raised bed and bordered areas. Not only that, of course, but mulch helps you control weeds by blocking them from life-giving light, and acts as a natural soil fertilizer to give your plants the nutrients they need. In short, one day of laying down some mulch in the right areas can mean no more weeding, and much less fertilizing.

Employ the ‘No Dig’ Method

Want to know one of the best ways of looking after your plants? Fix your soil and leave it – permanently. When you think about how plants grow in the wild, it makes perfect sense. The soil in the wild is never tended to, and if the structure remains undisturbed plants of all kinds will still flourish. Excellent news for the lazy gardener, right? However, there is an important thing to consider if you want to use the no dig method. You won’t be able to bring in plants that don’t usually grow in your local area, and importing ‘foreign’ plants from other countries will certainly be a no go. That said, it’s a great chance to learn more about your location’s natural plant life and an easy way of looking after your garden without all the hard work!

OK, so there you have it – as you can see, gardening doesn’t have to be a tough grind. Pick up the right equipment, choose the right plants, and spend a few weekends laying some groundwork, and gardening becomes an easy – and enjoyable – activity. Getting started at this time of year is a perfect time, too, so no more excuses! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Small Family Yard

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You all know how much my garden means to me, but some people aren’t so fortunate. Whether you’ve got an apartment with a balcony, or a small inner-city townhouse, sometimes outside space is at a premium. When you’ve got little ones, it can feel a little bit claustrophobic keeping them indoors all the time, so it can be liberating to make the most of the outside space you have, so that they have room to run around or just get some fresh air. The size of an outdoor area can be restrictive, but it’s not impossible to make a child-friendly garden which is only a few square feet, it just takes a bit of imagination. Check out these top tips for creating the perfect small family yard!

Make space

First things first, you’ll want to get rid of all the clutter. When you’ve got limited space, you need to make sure every inch is accessible. That means finding alternative arrangements for anything you’re storing there, at least when the garden is in use, and trashing anything which is just there for the sake of it. The more space you have available, the more space there is to play with.

Bring in some grass

Every garden should have some sort of grass, even if it’s a tiny balcony garden. Grass is a far safer surface on which children can play, unlike asphalt or concrete, and it can bring freshness and life to your yard. If your yard gets no sunlight, or the space just isn’t big enough to justify turf, why not consider an artificial grass such as Multiturf instead? They look and feel like grass, add softness for children when they’re playing, and they require far less maintenance than real turf, and they can be installed anywhere.

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Create a vegetable patch

However big your garden is, you’ll always have room for a tiny vegetable patch. It’s a great way to get kids outdoors, engaging with their food, weeding the yard, but also learning a bit of science in the process. You don’t have to dig up your entire yard, just a pot with a couple of tomato plants, some strawberries, or even a trashcan full of compost for growing potatoes is a fun way to get your kids interacting with the yard.

Use fold-away furniture

Chances are, mom and dad are going to want to use the yard too, but yard furniture tends to take up valuable playing space. Using fold-up furniture allows you to store it handily so that children can play in the yard, without the risk of tripping over or limiting their playing area.

Keep it safe

Whatever type of yard you have, there are going to be security concerns if your children are using it for recreational purposes. Keeping it safe from intruders, and ensuring they’re not able to get out onto any roads are a priority, so suitable fencing and a gate is an absolute must. If you’re using a balcony, ensuring that your children are not able to climb to the height of the barrier is essential, so avoid placing any garden furniture near to the edge that they can climb on. Keep water away too – even the smallest puddle can be dangerous when a child is around it unsupervised.

Making the most of your yard can be tricky when it’s tiny, but with a bit of imagination, it can be the perfect kid’s playground.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Best Life-Growth: August, 2013

From my first day teaching to mothering in Nicaragua, living my best life means embracing growth in all it’s subtle forms.

I first felt like a grown-up…

when I started teaching, back in early 1991.

Jen first day teachingCollege wasn’t easy for me, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was and where I was going. Ultimately, I found myself in a credential program teaching 7th grade. To my great surprise, I loved the kooky age group, and when I was offered a job teaching 7th grade English at a brand new school, I was thrilled. I remember my first day so clearly-what I wore (purple, because it was the school colors – ugh!), my nervousness, the over-planning, the exhaustion, the adrenaline, the absolute weirdness of being called “Miss Mason” by groups of kids not much smaller than me! Over the 22 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve experienced tremendous growth, but still get that first-day-of-school tingle when I know I’m meeting kids for the first time!

If I could make anything grow on trees, it would be…

time.

Cameron age 2I’d like to be able to pick a few minutes or hours or days off branches right outside my study window. I’d love to be able to go back to those lazy summer days of my childhood, when it seemed like all I had was time and couldn’t wait to go back to school to fill up my days. I’d love to stop time and buy those minutes back from my babies’ childhoods, those times when they were screaming and fussing and I didn’t know what to do, just that I wanted it to stop. Their growth as humans measures my time as their mother; now that they’re plugged in and heading into their lives independent of me, I’d love to have more time to be with them before they head off into the world without me.

My last growing pain was…

this summer, when I had to stretch outside my proverbial box and trust that everything would be OK.

Nicaragua Lily and CameronIn Nicaragua, I had to trust that my kids were strong, smart, and capable of traveling in a foreign country without me hovering all the time. I needed to let myself grow into trust, knowing that all would be well, and that they were learning valuable lessons right along with me.

I use my “green thumb” to…

bring beauty into the world.

gardenI can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a garden-first it was at my parent’s one-acre lot, where my dad would plant rows and rows of vegetables. I remember spending so many summer days happily moving hoses and scampering around in the dirt. My grandma Flossie was the consummate gardener – so much so that she carried around pruning shears in her purse to take slips of plants that she found on her daily walks. When I finally purchased my first house, the first thing we did was plant and landscape a blank plot of dirt into a beautiful Monet-inspired garden, complete with a brick patio and retaining wall built by hand. Today, as I write, I look out my second-story window and see hummingbirds feasting on Buddleia bushes and Stargazer lilies, old-fashioned roses blooming alongside gorgeous, droopy lavender Russian sage. My morning blooms make me happy, and digging in the dirt centers my soul.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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