Outdoor Wellness Spaces: Transforming Your Backyard

Many Americans feel stressed these days, and it’s hard to blame them.

On top of the usual work and life stressors, recent years have seen plenty of economic uncertainty and political turmoil around the world, alongside the lingering effects of the pandemic. Meanwhile, statistics show that more people are moving long distances in search of jobs and affordable housing, which has left many without a strong social network. More than ever, homes are a much-needed sanctuary.

The good news is that the best stress relief of all might be in your own backyard – literally! Green space has been shown to relieve stress, and in an age of perpetual connectivity, it can be hugely soothing to put down the phone and simply watch the sunset from your patio or gazebo. And wellness-minded homeowners often find that turning their backyard into an outdoor wellness space not only gives them some much-needed stress relief but also makes their homes desirable enough that they can even sell them without using an agent.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to transform your backyard into an oasis of serenity, whether it’s a small ten-by-ten space or a massive half-acre yard.

Plant the Right Greenery

The “green” part of your green space is among the most critical factors in designing your outdoor areas. The right plants are pleasing to the eye, improve air quality, and can provide a variety of other benefits.

For example, many find the scent of lavender relaxing. The plant has been used to calm babies or treat anxiety and depression. Peppermint is similarly calming and can work as a natural muscle relaxant when consumed in tea. Aloe vera is an excellent air cleanser and can help with sunburn or other skin conditions when applied topically. Finally, chamomile has anti-anxiety qualities and improves sleep quality when made into tea. And as a bonus, all these plants are nice to look at and hardy enough to flourish in most climates.

Set Up a Meditation Garden

An effective meditation garden combines sound, texture, and materials to create a serene and secluded space. Think of smooth gravel or moss beds, decorative and privacy-oriented shrubs, and a comfortable seating area shielded from the sun and rain by a canopy or pergola.

Plant local flora in your meditation garden to attract birds and insects. Immersing yourself in nature will enhance your relaxation.

Don’t Forget a Water Feature

A water feature can be a perfect main focus of any outdoor wellness space. The sound of running water is naturally relaxing and effectively muffles intrusive sounds from neighbors or nearby roads.

Some popular options include fountains, birdbaths, or even a small pond. If you decide on a fountain, consider a solar-powered one, which avoids the need to run electricity to your backyard.

Build a Fire Pit

Backyard water features are great for warmer climates, but if you live in chillier parts of the country, your backyard wellness space will likely be pretty cold for half the year. A fire feature might make more sense for colder climates, though there’s no rule against having both.

There are a number of fire pit options, from permanent, freestanding ones to those that are fully portable. Popular materials include stone and steel, while fuel choices range from electricity to wood or propane.

Hang a Hammock

Lying in a hammock can be incredibly relaxing, and it’s a great place for a summer afternoon nap. If you have two mature trees the right distance apart, hang your hammock there— but make sure your hammock supports are sturdy enough to hold up your full weight.

Alternately, you can use posts or a dedicated hammock stand. For safety and comfort reasons, put a bed of soft grass, wood chips, mulch, or very fine gravel underneath the hammock.

Consider a Hot Tub or Cold Plunge

Both hot and cold tubs are increasingly popular backyard accessories in 2024. Hot tubs offer many health benefits, from simple relaxation to relief for muscle soreness, increased circulation, and lower blood pressure. While hot tubs are often installed on a deck or patio, placing your hot tub in a green corner of your backyard can boost the wellness factor even further. Top-of-the-line hot tubs can run into five figures, but smaller ones, which are constructed from rigid foam, wood, or even inflatable plastic, can be much more affordable.

Cold tubs or plunge pools are also having a moment, as professional athletes and wellness influencers tout reported health benefits such as enhanced muscle recovery, immune system stimulation, and even anti-aging and longevity effects. In addition, cold plunge pools are typsmaller than hot tubs, making them perfect for more compact backyards.

Set the Mood with Lighting

Keep your backyard lighting subtle with hanging lanterns, flickering light from a fire pit or gas-powered fireplace, or soft, indirect lighting. Consider using solar-powered lights to keep your green space truly green.

Small Projects, Big Wellness Benefits

It doesn’t take a lot of time, money, or expertise to transform your outdoor space with an eye on wellness. Keep these simple tips in mind and enjoy the serenity that comes with a personal oasis right in your backyard.

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