According to a study commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people spend an average of 90% of their time either indoors or in a motor vehicle. Ninety percent! That’s huge! The requisite for human survival has become less dependent on being outdoors, driving us into warmer, safer, more controlled environments. And while being warm, safe, and relatively in control are very good things, there are unintended consequences that come with this state of being.
As landscapers and self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiasts, we wanted to learn more about this 90% statistic and see what methods we could use to help our clients and community become more attuned with nature. We listened in on a webinar about biophilic design presented by Rebecca Lindenmeyr, a WELL-AP certified Ecological Designer. Here is some of what we learned!
What Is Biophilic Design?
The most basic definition for biophilia refers to humankind’s innate biological connection with nature. Biophilic design is the term used for any structural design that connects and surrounds us with nature. According to the Kaplan Nature Attention Restoration Theory, when people are separated from nature, they become sad, sick, and slow. Alternatively, when people can interact with (and become immersed in) nature, they have positive biochemical and physical responses. Biophilic design then aims to bring nature into the places we find ourselves most often — places of work, shopping, healing, living, and learning.
There is a lot of fascinating, technical information about biophilic design, but for the sake of time we won’t include all of it in this write up. If you are interested in learning more about it, check out the links at the end of this article to aid that exploration.
Small Steps Toward Integration
Not everyone is ready (or able) to take the plunge into a full-fledged biophilic design makeover at their home or business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start taking small steps to incorporate more nature into your life. Here are a few ways that you can achieve this sort of integration at your home or business:
At Home: Patios & Pergolas
A professional patio design is the perfect addition to any home and a great way to feel more comfortable outdoors. Patios can be used to add and highlight space, provide a beautiful place to entertain friends and family, or serve as a place for personal rest and relaxation. Whether you love brick, stone, concrete pavers, or stamped concrete, the perfect patio comes down to personal preference and the right team of professionals to build it for you!
Another wonderful way to enjoy time outdoors is beneath the shade of a pergola. These lovely wooden structures can offer refuge from both sun and wind. They can also be equipped with outdoor lighting so you can enjoy the space past sundown! Pergolas are great support structures for climbing vines like wisteria, clematis, or trumpet vine.
At Work: More Plants & Outdoor Eating Area
Long days spent at the office can leave you and your coworkers feeling drained. Finding ways to integrate fresh air, sunshine, and plants into downtime can do wonders for morale and productivity. We’ve seen some pretty neat ideas over the years, some more intricate than others. A great place to start is by bringing plant materials inside and designating a clean, comfortable outdoor eating space that can double as a place to just sit and take a break, clear the mind, and spark creativity.
Other fun ideas are more dependent on available space. If your property allows for a walking trail, you can create paths and incorporate low-maintenance plant materials along the way. Have a lively brand culture? Consider creating space for creative expression like yard games such as horse shoes or mini golf. Have a stressful brand culture? Consider a Zen garden!
Topeka Landscape is Here to Help
Our team here at Topeka Landscape has been working to enhance our clients’ outdoor experiences for over 20 years. We are here to help, whether you’re in need of a major landscape overhaul, a minor addition to an existing landscape, or just need some help cleaning things up to make your space usable! You can learn more about the services we offer on our site. Looking for inspiration? Check out our Houzz or Pinterest profiles!
Want more information on biophilic design? Check out some of these other resources. We’ll see you somewhere down the rabbit hole.