In harmony with nature

In harmony with nature

Neera Gulati writes of beautiful terrace gardens, how to create them and the impact they have on the quality of our lives.

Our environment has a big impact on our behaviour. It is a crucial piece in the puzzle of human behaviour because our brain reacts profoundly to our surroundings. It is a matter of importance for places like home and offices to have a relaxing, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment. 

As we move away from nature and get lost in a jungle of buildings, houses and busy roads, it is vital that we have pleasant surroundings in order to survive and perform well. 

A cluttered work environment with too much clutter can affect our work directly and cause hiccups in productivity. 

Our environment affects practically everything we do. Let’s think about health first – low air quality can give us respiratory problems, and sunlight is necessary for us to survive. So creating gardens in and around our home helps us connect with nature. 

If you have a terrace, beautify it with gardens, bird baths and water bodies. Spending some time in this environment in the mornings will give you a fresh start to the day as well as enable you to have a clear and happy state of mind. Small changes like these can do wonders to your mental well being. 

I have a small balcony outside my room. I keep beautiful potted plants and have a bird-feed. After a few days of this, I began to see life blossom in the balcony with lovely butterflies, garden birds and sometimes even eagles enjoying the food. This is not just pleasing to your eyes, but also gives you a relaxed feel. You get up feeling positive and in harmony with nature. 

Best method

Green landscaping is one of the best methods to add charm and liveliness to the surroundings of your house. Green landscaping doesn’t just beautify your surroundings; it is a way of preserving ecological balance around the house.

Pick a theme or style for your roof garden or balcony – romantic roses or plush country casual or white wicker, art dew and neon, etc. But durable and recycled plastics or washable seats and cushions are a must. Weathered wood and wicker folk art, cottage garden flowers and antiques all spell “country casual”. 

Place a section of an old white-washed picket fence in a sunny corner and let potted creepers climb it. Choose easy-care wicker or old fashioned metal painted with a bright-rust resisting paint to furnish your garden.

Why not add a small reading table covered with a plastic cloth? Old, found and weathered material are best for this kind of project. 

Another idea is to pick an era you love and add an element of this era to your outdoors. You can choose overstuffed furniture covered in water-repellent fabric. Fabric designs should have a historical context. Lighting is easy: use clean burning vintage-styled oil lamps or street lamp-style hanging lamps for the evening.

Do you prefer privacy? A secret garden style, which assures privacy and serenity, can also be chosen. 

Hang a dozen plants from above, put up a temporary fence with creepers or add a wall. Choose sleek ergonomic furniture and add bamboo floor mats for meditation and exercise. Muted lighting like twinkle lights or string lights add to this theme.

 Water fountains provide calmer surroundings. Mirrors make the garden look wider and more inviting. Rock gardens and sculpted gardens give the area an exotic look. 

You could either grow a variety of shrubs, herbs and small trees or have a vegetable garden. 

To make your garden colourful, trees with leaves of different hues can be used. Decorate the area with rugs or mats and vases with plants or candles. A mosaic of small rugs can transform the space into a Moroccan courtyard.

A hammock or a day bed can make a great place for lounging on the terrace. A swing or a hanging chair could also be used. Umbrellas are a good way to create shade and increase privacy. 

Choose an outdoor umbrella that goes well with the furniture. For luxury, a small pool, jacuzzi or pond could be added. Vintage benches look beautiful when decorated with coverlets and throw pillows. 

Outdoor dining

You could also create an outdoor dining area for quick dinner parties in serene surroundings. A pergola is a great way to protect the dining area from the sun.

Pergolas can be decorated with plants, flowers, curtains, etc. While sturdy outdoor furniture might be durable, add coloured textiles to make the dining area look cosy. Decorations such as outdoor lanterns, curtain tie-backs and candles can add panache.

Regardless of the size, the terrace is one of the most enchanting places in the house but is often ignored. If you do not want to deal with flowers and plants, use stalks of bamboo. 

Bamboo decor maintains a light open space on your terrace. If you have a large terrace then create a terrace lounge. Sofa chairs on the terrace are ideal to relax on after a tiring day. 

The essence of outdoor living simply involves doing everyday activities like eating, reading newspaper, napping or just relaxing in your garden. Terrace gardens add a touch of green to the most ignored corner of your house. 

Nature is surprisingly beneficial for the brain. Studies have demonstrated that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows and women living in public houses are better able to focus when their apartment over looks a grassy courtyard.

(The writer is an interior designer.)

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