Know your unique individual preferences for how nature ‘looks,” then use that information for the perfect calming, healing landscape around your home.
Step 1. Put on your walking shoes and outdoor gear such as jeans or shorts, and a jacket if it’s cool.
Step 2. Grab your camera or smart phone and head out to a natural spot. A park is good, but a more rustic rural area is even better. The best time to go is early morning or late afternoon. You want the light to be interesting – not so bright that it washes out nature photos.
Step 3. Explore the area on foot. Take photos of anything that catches your eye. It’s OK to take lots of photos.
Step 4. At home, download the images to a computer and look at them one by one. You want to sort them into three categories:
A. Close-up photos - plants or rocks or anything that you found intriguing when it’s nearby and full of detail.
B. Middle distance photos - photos that include similar amounts of landscape, similar distances. The natural setting could be rocks at 20 feet or it could be a long perspective, with ground cover, shrub, and tree layers, maybe even a lake further away. Or something in-between.
C. Sky photos. Check for photos taken when you looked up and expanded your awareness of what was around you.
Now use what you’ve discovered to improve the de-stressing aspects of your yard. Which category of photos is the largest?
If you took lots of close-ups and were fascinated by details such as the lichen pattern on rock or the butterfly on a flower or a tiny trickle of water in an almost-dry streambed, make sure your garden has plenty of detail…and places to sit or stand in a resting position with plenty of minute components to capture your interest every day.
If your middle distance photos were the largest group, look around your yard, use this information to determine whether you have adequate scenes within the comfortable distance to draw your attention. For some people, your favorite distance may extend beyond your yard. This is a chance to look beyond your boundaries. See what you can “borrow” from a neighboring landscape just by making it easier to notice how the landscape beyond your hedge or fence fits into a well-planned planting in your yard.
If you had lots and lots of sky photos, analyze your yard. You may need to re-shape or trim tree branches, re-shape your fence top, even add more vertical plantings such as vines or columnar trees to remind you to look up, especially if your yard is one of the smaller ones in today’s neighborhoods.