One purpose of a garden is to provide a relaxing place of sanctuary for the soul.

The world is full of busyness and worries, and we rush through our days meeting needs, schedules, and obligations, for the most part. A garden is a place to allow us to move away from that and “recreate” our sense of center and let nature speak to us.

That sense of centering and recreation can come from the activity of gardening, or from simple enjoyment of being there, experiencing the space.

That repose can come in simple weeding chores and the feeling of satisfaction after replacing order in a flower bed, others find it viewing a particular garden scene from an indoor window, for many the mere act of planting seeds and watching the miracle of nature is restoring and peaceful.

No matter the amount of space or the climate, a garden can provide a place for reflection and balance.

Japanese Path

pathway bridge

Pathways Through A Garden

For a meandering path a bit of space is required, not a lot – just a bit to get from “here to there”. You can’t “meander” on a balcony. However if you have a backyard, designing in a specific way can create a sense of direction through the garden that awakens a feeling of “taking a walk”.

Even in fairly small spaces, following that path can be enough to settle the mind, and give attention to nature. The Japanese even have a device of arranging the steps in such a way as to deliberately slow one’s pace; stepping stones are smaller, more irregular in their spacing.

garden path

Guiding The Mind With Design

Placing visual barriers within, like shrubs or small trees, and winding a pathway around those, or a tall clump of grasses, a hedge that separates the garden into parts creates a sense of a garden being larger than it is. With certain areas hidden from sight and others providing a long view to the end of the garden (or beyond, in the case of borrowing a view), the garden expands.
Have a path lead to a little bench, and there is the making of a morning ritual. A peaceful stroll in a garden to have some thoughts while listening to birdsong and the sounds of the garden: breezes swishing through foliage, insects happily buzzing.

The Serenity Of Water

Japanese style fountain

Japanese style fountain

A way to create soothing sound and a quiet scene is with the addition of a fountain. For this, no special space requirements are needed. A garden on a balcony can be made with a fountain, some potted plants, and a chair.

Fountains aren’t always high on the list of a garden design; but I am not sure why they aren’t used more because they create so much interest.

Garden designers often utilize fountains in their plans, and I always see them in Garden Show exhibitions.

The home gardener can take note, and with many choices available incorporate the sound of water, and its sparkle in the light.

Wildlife loves a fountain, sometimes a little too well, it draws birds, frogs, dragonflies and other creatures. You can even make your own fountain, if you don’t find one you like in your budget.

Ideas For Including These Features In Your Yard

bench under the lilac

bench under the lilac

I think the combination of a path curving through a garden, a spot with a gently splashing fountain, and a garden seat are ideal in the creation of a garden.

Make that two seats! So one can enjoy conversation together with a good friend.

Think about combining several of these features, possibly in more than one place.

I have a large yard, so I like my bench under the lilac bush, one on a back porch near the vegetable garden, and a chair beside the little pond. Anywhere there are places to congregate, or to rest after working in the garden, or with a particular view (the sunset, perhaps) is a good place to situate your destination bench.

Fountains can be near the house, and benefit from access to electricity to man the motor needed for running water.

Small preformed ponds are sold in kits that have fountains included
Create your design for an “after work” sanctuary space, or a place where you can go anytime just to be alone with your thoughts, it could even take the form of a secret garden.

Surprisingly, city backyards with their fenced in spaces are good places to implement these features.

A meandering path of stepping stones spaced to cause one to slow down is an idea taken from Japanese garden philosophy, as mentioned before, and might be well placed a few steps before a certain planting or a widened space, where a graceful view is situated.

If you need any help locating some of these (although there are lots of choices in home improvement stores and on Amazon), here are a few beautiful, quality additions to make to your garden:

‘Pathways’ Page
garden paths

garden path and bench awaiting