The word ‘sanctuary’ is defined as: 1) a place of refuge or safety, 2) a nature reserve. A Garden Sanctuary blends both of those together and becomes a place of refuge in the middle of nature.

Can you think of any better thing to do than to lose yourself in the peace, quiet and beauty of your own Garden Sanctuary?

Create a Garden Sanctuary

We are going through some concerning times right now. We find our ‘normal’ being yanked out from underneath us like a dirty rug. Once we pick ourselves back up and dust ourselves off, we aren’t sure who we are, or what we are supposed to do. We stand still, look around, and try to figure out which way to go.

With self- or forced-quarantine, our initial reaction is to go stir crazy. We are used to coming and going as we please.

No longer can we call our friends and go to a movie. Date night at a restaurant isn’t an option, as the restaurants are all but closed. We need a break from this cabin fever!

One of the healthiest things you can do is go outside. Fresh air and exercise is a great way to burn off excess energy. If you do go outside, why not put your energy towards something that is productive, and will last? Build yourself a Garden Sanctuary.

an old wooden bench in sepia tone

What is a Garden Sanctuary?

A Garden Sanctuary is a comfortable place in your yard where you can take a moment to rest and reflect. Do you have a shade tree in your yard? What about a flower bed? Both of those are instant Garden Sanctuaries.

It doesn’t have to be a huge place, nor does it have to be fancy. All that is required is a place to sit among Nature’s beauty.

Why Have a Garden Sanctuary?

Living a fast-paced life or being forced to put the brakes on due to the recent unsettling events that are taking place, we all need a quiet place to reflect. With self- or forced quarantines, being inside all day can get old.

Having a place outdoors where you can sit, think reflect can be the best thing for you to do. It is also a place you can read, work on a craft project, or just rest for a few moments.

We all need our own space. Having a Garden Sanctuary can be the best place to escape!

A Simple Garden Sanctuary

How to Build a Garden Sanctuary

A Simple Garden

The simplest way to create a garden sanctuary is to find a shady spot under a tree, or next to an existing flowerbed. Place a chair and a small table,  a garden bench, or even a swing,  and voila! Garden Sanctuary!

Even better – if you have two large, sturdy trees relatively close together, consider adding a hammock. That would be a perfect place to take a nap, contemplate life or read a great book!

a rustic wood bench in front a pond ringed with trees

A bit more Elaborate

If you want something a bit more elaborate, it is just a matter of planning. First, you need to determine how much space you have to incorporate a garden in your yard.

You will decide if you want flowers, herbs, vegetables or herbs in your garden. For a more productive bed, consider adding all three!

Your next step will be to measure the space you have available, as well as any design plans you want to make. Your design should incorporate an area large enough to add a chair and a small table. A circle or horseshoe shape would be perfect!

a white enamelware tea pot, vintage lavender teacup, plate filled with a muffin, strawberries and cookies

This will insure you have a place to sit and enjoy Afternoon Tea and a plate of cookies. After all, what is a Sanctuary without a bit of physical nourishment!

Once you know the size of your area and the design, it is time to get paper and pencil out. Sketch the overall design. If possible, use graph paper to make it as close to scale as you can. Then begin by adding circles, squares or triangles to show the placement of your plants.

Be sure to check the growing conditions and spacing needs of each plant. For instance, if you want to plant lavender in a corner, choose other plants that prefer drier soil. Move plants that prefer wet soil to the other side of the garden.

Pathway through a garden sanctuary

Make it Fancy!

If you have the room, consider designing your new garden to add pathways and a small water feature. Water features can range from a small fountain placed among the foliage, to a birdbath or larger fountain.

Also consider ‘decorating’ your garden with some fun elements. These can be anything from whimsical containers to a toad house!

Mix It Up!

Take advantage of adding a new space and incorporate both beauty and nourishment. Shasta daisies and Lavender are perfect for cutting and grow approximately 3 feet high.

Plant them in the back of your new garden. In front of those, add a couple of bush beans, a squash plant, or some of your favorite herbs. Depending on the depth of your garden, you may be able to add a row of all three.

Another option you may want to consider is a Theme Garden. This is where you focus on one type of planting, such as a Salsa Garden or plants for bees and butterflies. Choose plants that will work well.

a rustic green bench, purple, turquoise and pink notebooks, purple pen, and a mug that reads Hope in green

Dig In!

Once you have your design laid out, then it’s time to plant the garden. Remove any grass in your new area. Dig your soil at least three feet deep and loosen the soil. The best way to do this is with a garden tiller, but it can be done with a shovel.

Amend the soil with compost. If your soil is heavy clay, consider adding a bit of sand. When starting a new bed, I often amend my soil with a mixture of compost, peat moss and a bag or two of organic potting soil. Once the garden is established, I simply add compost as needed once a year.

A quiet garden sanctuary

Start Planting

Before you add the plants, you may want to put any decorations in place first. You can then plant around them as necessary. Just be sure to account for spacing.

If you are starting from seed, two of the best places to get some great ones are Mary’s Heirloom Seeds and Eden Brothers. There you can find a great selection of flower, vegetable and herb seeds, as well as a nice array of gardening tools!

a young man wearing a green shirt and khakis, playing a ukulele with his beagle dog watching

Now that you have your Garden Sanctuary set up, just add a chair, a small table, and you. Take a breather. Relax. Contemplate life, or possibly even start working on a new Lifestyle Plan. Read a good book. Or even just enjoy the peace and quiet for a few minutes.

Before you know it, you may never want to go back inside, as you will now have your own personal Garden Sanctuary and happy place!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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