A simple aging-in-place garden principle to plan for garden daydreams

With cold weather hanging on and on and on this year, now is a splendid time to consider the aging in place garden from another viewpoint – inside.

Maybe your parents are spending more time in the house than they have in the past, or you find yourself inclined to linger indoors.

This means someone spending most of their time inside can become nature-deprived.

Let’s think about possible root causes for that:

  • The body adapts less well to heat and cold with age
  • Certain medications interact with sunlight, restricting outdoor activity
  • Aging eyes adjust more slowly to bright light and shadow
  • Reduced sense of balance makes yard surfaces seem risky to navigate

 How is one aging in place garden principle uniquely suited for easier connecting with nature?

Think about year-round attractive views from inside the house!  I have written previously about dooryard gardens to entice homeowners to explore what’s outside the four walls of the home. In addition, research studies continue to show that even viewing nature through a window can reduce stress and lift depression. In his books, Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, Richard Louv proposes that resolving nature deficit disorder is a better solution for mental problems in children and adults than pharmaceuticals.

If the weather – either heat or cold – limits the chances to go outside, what better solution than deliberate connection with nature through windows or climate-controlled porches?

Here are some ideas:

1.      Have a master arborist prune tree limbs visible through windows so that the branches are both healthy and create beautiful shapes and patterns when leaves have fallen. These branches can be breath-taking when viewed as charcoal shapes against a bright blue sky and just as splendid when outlined in snow or ice on a gloomy day.

2.      Revitalize shrub plantings with groups of plants that contrast with one another rather than solid lines of the same plant. Think of variegated leaves and solid green leaves, evergreen and deciduous, flowering and non-flowering bushes intermingled. The pattern will be ever-changing and interesting year-round.

3.      Consider night lighting. If the back of the yard is a fence or wall, garden lights can create half- moon shapes or inverted triangles in artistic displays. Colored lighting can create intriguing designs and encourage attention to nearby plant shapes at the ground level or lead the viewer to notice the stars and phases of the moon above the barrier.

What might you do to make the garden fabulous to watch through your sparkling windows every day?