[San Juan Silver Stage | July 2020 | By Mary Menz]
Stay-at-home and safer-at-home recommendations put a damper on opportunities to socialize away from home. But engaging the senses in one’s own backyard is an easy way to stave off isolating moments and soothe the soul of needed stimulation.
Some carefully curated visuals in the form of flowering plants or attractive pottery and statuary satisfies the needs of the eyes. The soothing sounds of water—and the birds drawn to it—satisfies the needs of the ears. And the scents of favorite aromas like honeysuckle perfume, herbs, or firewood smoke satisfies the needs of the nose.
It’s no secret that home gardening has seen a dramatic uptick nationwide during the Covid-19 crisis. Seed companies have seen record sales since mid-March. And homeowners are noticeably taking the time to spruce up their backyards and extend their living spaces to the outdoors where meeting with friends and family makes everyone a little more comfortable.
Three of the top-trending outdoor living space projects include installing pergolas, fire pits or fire tables, and water features, all of which can sooth the soul by providing tranquil areas outside in which to share quiet moments alone or with others.
The pergola is a classic garden feature and a longtime favorite outdoor installation since the seventeenth century. Pergolas can come in a kit or be custom built on site. With climbing vines, fragrant hanging baskets, or billowing curtains, the space under a pergola creates a private outdoor room perfect for reading a book, practicing yoga, or conversing with friends.
Fire pits and fire tables, too, have found new life in the landscaping arena. Whether constructed from locally sourced materials or purchased ready-made and easy to install, each adds warmth to a space, literally and figuratively. With fire restrictions in many areas, gas fire pits have gained recent popularity and provide immediate ambiance on a patio.They can be placed into a custom-built enclosure with a buried gas line or used immediately with a fuel supply line leading to a small propane tank. Stash the tank behind a piece of outdoor furniture or under a table to minimize the unfinished look of the bare tank.
The undisputed winner in the sensory garden category is the water feature. Architectural Digest calls the bubbling sound of water “meditative.” Water fountains come in all sizes, from a large outdoor wall waterfall to a small table-top unit that just needs water and a source of power. (Solar-power is environmentally friendly and more affordable.)
Other easy-to-install water features include rain chains with catch basins that hang from a pergola eave or gutter, bird baths with solar-powered bubblers, shallow decorative dishes with standing water changed daily, or ponds of any size.
Pictures in slideshow.
— Pergolas like this one in the yard of fiber multimedia artist Lucy Boody of Ridgway can feature curtains for shade and privacy.–
Fire pits such as the one on a patio at the home of a family Log Hill can be wood burning or propane-powered and make it easy to add a warm feel to a cool evening.
— Water features, including rain chains, fountains, and ponds with waterfalls, bring birds to the yard while providing calming sounds for the ears.
— Decorative dishes and other garden décor fill in empty spaces and provide a water source for birds and small mammals.
— A patio setting in a shady spot, with flowers, firepit, and chimenea (Camelot Gardens) offers a cozy place for company gatherings at any time of the day or evening.