Tips for a tranquil garden

Colors, fountains and aroma add peace

MINIMIZING STRESS Maintenance-free succulents make gardening easy. Photo: Kate Russell

Your garden can be a bright, cheery, busy place, or it can provide the tranquility you need after a busy day.

Transform your garden into a tranquil refuge with these easy tips:

Keep it simple. Get rid of clutter. Remove plants that are not thriving. Use simple decorations. Leave fences and lawns clear and empty of distractions.

Color it calm. Reds and yellows are great colors, but they will not help you relax. Design your landscape around blues, greens and browns for a beautifully relaxing view.

Just add water. Fountains, waterfalls, even the sound of a bird splashing in a birdbath bring us back to nature much the way a campfire does, but without the mess or risks. Water features also attract birds that bring their beauty and song to your garden.

Fragrant fancies. Aroma is another powerful tool in creating a restful garden refuge. Savoring fragrant jasmine, hyacinth or lavender, tension slips away, replaced with inner calm. Roses, dianthus, gardenia, nicotiana, clematis and lily-of-the-valley add fragrance and gentle color.

Natural tranquility. Stone, wood, grasses, living plants and nature-related art all help to ground you in the moment and set aside the stresses of the day. Forget brightly colored plastics and cheap spontaneous yard art purchases. They are bad for the environment and your psyche. Treat your yard like a valuable painting, to be handled with care and thoughtfulness. Keep it simple and serene. Soft ferns can also help you find your calm.

Minimize maintenance. Use plants that have evolved to thrive in this region. Native plants and succulents are always good choices when trying to reduce the need for watering, weeding and pest prevention. And let those plants go to seed. They will provide for local wildlife, add structure and color during winter months, and create new plants in spring.

Gentle sounds. Traffic, machinery and neighbors can destroy the tranquility of your refuge. Reduce these intrusions with good fencing and trees and shrubs planted around your property line.

Create an herb garden. Edible herbs require minimal care and most of them come back every year. Besides adding flavor to meals, fresh herbs, such as thyme, oregano and rosemary, add color and fragrance to your garden, while helping deter many common pests.

Delightful lighting. The way you illuminate your yard also impacts the way you feel. Gentle, soft-colored solar lights along paths, around garden beds, and in seating areas can be soothing.

Make the time to enjoy it. One of the biggest problems faced today is our unwillingness to make time to relax. Busy schedules, television and social media whittle away at our spare moments until there aren’t any. Schedule some time for yourself in the garden, without chores and to-do lists. 

Stop and smell those roses. You’ve earned it.

Kate Russell is a UCCE Master Gardener in Santa Clara County. For information, visit or call 408.282.3105 between 9:30am-12:30pm, Monday through Friday.

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About Kate Russell
Kate Russell is a UCCE Master Gardener in Santa Clara county.