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How to create a cool and calm sanctuary

For many of us, gardens are a place to escape the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life. Studies have shown that simply looking at green spaces helps us to relax and has positive outcomes for mental health. So why not turn your garden into a cool and calm sanctuary for the body and soul with these simple steps…

Keep it simple – colour schemes and layout

Simple shapes and a limited colour palette makes this tiny garden a calm hideaway

Keeping your colour scheme simple is the single easiest and most fundamental way of creating a cool, calm oasis. Here the planting has been limited to green and cream shades; this is picked up by the pale-coloured garden furniture and raised beds. The uncluttered layout, along with the fence and benches made from matching wood completes the scene.

Go green

The structural, clipped plants in this enclosed garden help it feel ordered and calm: somewhere to unwind after a busy day

Green is the ultimate colour for relaxation, and can come in many forms in the garden. Hedges, lawns and topiary give structural elements and year-round colour, but in this garden, green flowers and foliage of perennials gives seasonal accents too. Subtle dashes of colour keep it from being overpowering.

Create a sense of enclosure

Screens, trees and pleached trees like these can provide a sense of enclosure and privacy

It’s a very natural human desire to feel enclosed and protected by our surroundings. There are many ways to create privacy – fences are quickest and cheapest and can soon be smothered in climbers to give you a verdant outlook. If you’re overlooked above fence height, consider adding trellis or growing some trees. Hedges and pleached trees such as those in the photo above have the particular advantage of trapping noise and pollution, making your garden not just more peaceful but cleaner too.

Just add water

Water features bring another dimension to your garden; their sound can add to a sense of tranquillity

There’s something magical about adding water to a garden. From the patter of raindrops on a pond to dancing reflections and the extra wildlife it will inevitably draw in. Add a fountain or water feature and the sound will bring yet another dimension, bringing a sense of tranquillity at the flick of a switch.

Bring in wildlife

Watching bees, birds and butterflies is one of the most engrossing and delightful ways to spend time in the garden, so plant flowers that attract them

Plant lots of wildlife-friendly plants to bring in the bees, birds and butterflies. Seeing wild creatures enjoying your garden too can provide a wonderful distraction from the stresses of everyday life. We’ve done extensive research into which plants are best for bees and other pollinating insects.

A place to rest

Make sure you have seating in the garden, and make time to stop and admire your work and the changing seasons

A vital part of a cool and calm garden is somewhere to sit and enjoy it. Add plenty of seating, both in sun and shade, so you can make the most of your garden as often as possible. Think about the views from inside the house too – perhaps from the kitchen sink or living room, wherever you look out from the most, make that a priority. A seat that is visible from the house draws you out into the garden and encourages you to make the most of it. Try placing edible plants within easy reach so you can enjoy an alfresco snack.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.