Over the years, our lives have tended to drift indoors. We’re often surrounded by steel and concrete. Our eyes are more accustomed to the glare of screens than the pleasant views of natural scenery.
The health benefits of nature on human lives have been extensively studied. But not everyone gets to recharge through frequent wilderness excursions. Proximity can limit your access to green spaces. Time is also a significant constraint; most people are simply too busy to visit parks or gardens regularly.
These limiting factors make the outdoor areas of a home even more important. They furnish us with opportunities to connect with nature every day. However, this can lead to another potential dilemma. We’re usually busy during the day, so we don’t get to enjoy our own outdoor spaces that much.
When night falls, it’s hard to appreciate the beauty of your garden. The evening chill is even more conducive to spending time indoors. This can be a waste of the potential value of our outdoor spaces unless we design them to be better-enjoyed at night. Here are some steps you can take to improve towards that end.
Have dinner outdoors
Depending on the season and where you live, sundown can coincide perfectly with dinner time. And if you have your dinner al fresco, you can enjoy an experience that’s different from the usual indoor meals.
Feel the breeze on your skin, take in some fresh air, gaze at the night sky, and listen to the sounds of nocturnal insects. These simple things heighten your sense of being in the moment. This lets you enjoy your food and company even more. Afterward, take a stroll in the garden on a path lit with LED bollard lights, and you’ll get some physical activity without noticing it.
You can set up an outdoor grill and cook your healthy meals in the yard. Or you can simply clear the way and make it easier to go back and forth from kitchen to patio. You just need a table, a comfortable seat, some cover, and a means of repelling the occasional bugs. And a little cooperation from the weather, of course.
Start a bonfire tradition
Sitting around by a warm fire is an experience to be savored on chilly winter nights. And you’ll get bonus points with the kids for breaking out the marshmallows. But making a fire in your backyard can be more than just a rare event.
Studies have shown that humans benefit from tending a fire. Our ancestors used fire to cook their food and unlock higher nutritional content. The fire became a source of nourishment, as well as something to be nourished. Starting a fire was an essential skill; gathering around it became a sort of celebration. It encouraged the development of early human communication and social skills.
Even with modern technology, we still effectively live in caves of a four-walled sort. The scene of congregation, however, has changed. We no longer gather around fires. Instead, we use our devices and social media. Hiding behind a digital interface changes the way we communicate, and not for the better.
Build a fire in your yard, or install one of those outdoor fire pits. Make it a family tradition to hang out, tell stories, and keep the fire (and conversation) going deep into the night. You’ll get to enjoy your evenings outside while reclaiming those vital social skills that are deteriorating in this digital age.
Make a night garden
Gardening is typically associated with sunlight. Plants need it to grow, and you probably need the light of day to aid you in clearing out weeds and insects or aerating the soil.
But most gardens don’t look that impressive at night. All those lovely colors and graceful shapes are submerged in murky darkness. Unless you take time off, or get home early, on most days, you won’t get more than an hour to enjoy the beauty of your garden.
Designing a night garden is an excellent way to transform your landscape into a beautiful space after sunset. Pale white flowers, or plants with silvery foliage, will be particularly eye-catching under the light of the moon and stars.
Other plants emit fragrances in the evening to attract pollinators, creating an environment that stimulates your sense of smell. With selective lighting choices, you can enhance textures, create interesting shadows and silhouettes, or draw attention to a magnificent tree.
With these improvements, you can thoroughly enjoy spending time after dark outside the house, maintaining that vital sense of connection with nature.