When you think of spending time outdoors, you might envision hiking, swimming, and outdoor sports. Maybe you picture the kids playing on a swing set, or yourself digging in your vegetable garden. All of these activities focus on action and exercise. While these are important (and healthy) concepts, without a doubt, there are other ways to spend time outdoors and enjoy the benefits of improved mental health and even boost immunity. 

That’s the idea behind the rise of the “Zen Den”; a place where you can spend time outdoors, soak up some fresh air and sunlight, and reconnect with nature. We know that spending just 17 minutes per day outdoors can significantly boost feelings of happiness and well being, but those minutes don’t necessarily have to involve exercise or yard work. If relaxation is more your speed, check out these ideas for creating your own Zen Den. 

Focus on serenity. Noise and commotion might serve as the first obstacle to creating a zen space. Therefore, some of your most important changes might involve noise-blocking landscaping. Options include fencing, living walls, rows of dense shrubbery, or water features such as fountains or waterfalls. You might be surprised at the difference one noise-canceling addition can make! 

Determine how you wish to use the space. A hammock or swing offers a place to read and relax. On the other hand, if your vision involves small gatherings, a fire pit or conversation area might be in order. 

Are you hoping for a quiet space to practice yoga or meditation? Remember to reserve a flat, grassy spot away from the main activity areas. 

The presence of a children’s play area doesn’t necessarily distract from your relaxation zone. Place play equipment on the opposite side of the yard, and select structures that blend with the landscape rather than distract from it. Natural materials are preferred over bright, colorful plastic. Work with the landscape, using tree rounds as steps or embedding a slide into a hill. Options such as a sandbox or play table encourage more stationary play (but still plenty of fun). 

Consider a “no-phone zone”. Consider making your outdoor space a “no-phone” zone, whether by friendly suggestion (a cute sign) or an outright edict directed at the kids. A Zen Den encourages all of us to look away from the screen and out toward the world around us, but some might need a gentle reminder to enjoy all that life has to offer. 

For more input on renovating your backyard, call us to discuss your plans. We can offer suggestions on blocking noise, adding desirable elements, and more to turn your backyard into the relaxing oasis of your dreams.