If your garden could talk, what would it say to you in July, when the temperature hits 100 degrees every day?
Feeling heat pressure during the “dog days” of summer, you may spend your time inside where it’s cool, keeping the blinds down for energy conservation. You may feel cooler in a dim, air-conditioned house. Or you may feel like a bear with furniture, hibernating in front of TV or computer screen until fall arrives.
I’ve written previously about the importance of seeing nature for mental and physical health. Research continues to find that views of nature can speed healing, lower blood pressure, and reduce the need for pain medication in hospital settings.
So, if you are deliberately doing the opposite, shutting out views of your garden, what cold be the impact on your health? Do you want to risk it?
I’m not advocating that you spend time sitting in the midday sun in your yard, though. In fact, you can stay inside in the air-conditioned comfort; just take a different approach to your garden connection.
Here’s what you can do to maintain health and wellness in summer’s heat.
First, make a habit of opening the blinds or curtains when there is the least chance of heat penetration. Typically, the north side of the house is the coolest if you’re in the northern hemisphere. Keep those windows uncovered as much as possible.
Second, track the sun’s rotation and notice when there is direct exposure on the house. For example, August may be the worst time of year for the southwest side of your house. The sun’s angle may swing just enough to allow blazing afternoon sun to shine right in your windows. Consider a porch, deciduous vines on a trellis or arbor, or even retractable window shades or awnings.
Third, with options to mitigate the sun’s reach into the house, you can keep the blinds open except during the time of day when heat buildup is lowest. And thanks to technology, you can use a programmable timer to open and close motorized blinds or curtains. While this tool was originally developed for security to make a home look lived in when you’re gone, the timer is a perfect solution to keeping your views to the garden available.
Fourth, take time to evaluate what you see out those windows. Mid-summer is a fabulous time to take stock of the views to the garden. Do you love what you see? Are those vistas enticing you, encouraging you to put up your feet and just watch what’s outdoor for a while?
If the view out of every window is not perfect, now is the time to plan for the next planting season. It could be adding window boxes and containers of bright floral displays, painting a mural on the fence, or replacing some dull green shrubs with a mix of shrubs with contrasting foliage colors, leaf shapes and summer blooms.
Consider how to make your summer garden so much fun to look at that you’ll rush to open the blinds or curtains every day, just to see what’s there.
Ready, set, look outside!
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