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BEACON Senior News

Planning your outdoor sanctuary

Jan 25, 2021 03:58PM ● By Paige Slaughter
planning your garden outdoor sanctuary

Designing your garden: Part 1 

Amidst all the beauty, possibility, labor and jargon bubbling around in the world of gardening, we might forget—or never give ourselves the chance to believe—that growing food is incredibly simple.

If planning your garden means choosing seeds based solely on the pictures that most entice you, perfect. There’s no rule that says you need to know what you’re doing. Or, maybe drawing out every detail strikes your fancy. Oh, the thrill of seeing how much you can grow in your garden ecosystem, horizontally and vertically!

Either way, it’s a beautiful time of year to flip through seed catalogs and dream on. 

Our gardens are square feet of pure possibility – spaces where we can create anything we have the patience for.

To garden is to take an idea in your mind and work alongside Mother Nature to bring that idea to life. To garden is to manifest. We sow seeds, cultivate, harvest. In gardening, we can embody our intentions and connect our dreams with action. 


Planning with intention

Whatever your method of planning looks like, let it begin with what you desire in your life. Place your garden in a deeper context: What matters most to you? 

Feeling vibrant
Growing healthful foods that taste good makes healthy eating easy. As you flip through seed catalogs this winter, choose nutrient-rich foods that you’ll actually want to eat.

       And what about exercise? How can you design your garden to encourage feel-good movement in your body? Can you add weaving pathways that invite you to move through your space every day? Would raised beds make you feel more comfortable tending to your garden beds? 

      When we make it easy to choose the healthier option, we’re more likely to choose it! Rather than coming down on yourself for not exercising enough or forcing yourself to do it, instead, set yourself up for success by creating spaces that support your wellbeing.

For many, the past year has felt lonely and lacking. Sometimes, the best way to feel abundant and connected is to give back to the local community through your garden. Grow an extra row of veggies for a local food bank or soup kitchen. Save seeds for a community garden or school garden project. Grow flowers for cutting, and deliver them to a local organization, charity, hospital, or simply to your neighbors.

       Plus, gardening sparks a connection with Nature and with oneself, and it brings a natural mindfulness that allows us to feel more grounded and connected on many levels.


Compassion for our planet just feels good. Growing your own food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Go further by composting with a composting bin or a worm bin. Plan to use leaves and grass clippings as mulch, and learn about gardening practices that conserve water, like cover crops and watering systems. Use natural and organic fertilizers and soil mixes to keep harmful chemicals out of the soil, and consider where you’re buying your seeds and plant starts from.


 Maybe this new year is about reflecting on hardship, moving through it, and healing. If that’s you, your garden can support you with this, too. 

      Design your garden with your own healing in mind. Which colors and aromas will help you feel calm or joyful? How can you attract birds, bees and butterflies to observe and enjoy? Do you have a quiet, comfortable place to sit in your garden? For many of us, self-care and self-compassion are difficult to prioritize in our lives. But that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve them. Use your garden as your healing space.

     Integrate your goals, desires, values and resourcefulness into your planning process as you select soil, seeds and plant starts. With each intentional decision, you may find yourself closer to feeling exactly the way you want to feel and living life the way you want to live it.

Read more Alive & Digging columns here!