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Backyard Sanctuary

Shinrin-yoku offers a calming way to reap the benefits of time outdoors.

Getting outdoors in NoCo isn’t exactly a stretch—we’re bike-laned and open-spaced and single-tracked up around here. But that go-go-go way of being in nature means we might be missing out on the real therapeutic benefits. Enter shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of “forest bathing,” which involves taking a slow walk through nature and engaging it with all the senses. Japanese researchers have compared walks in the city with walks in the forest and found forest walkers experienced a reduction in blood pressure and certain stress hormones.

The trend is catching on here, but what if you don’t have time to nip out for a two-hour meditative ramble in the woods? If you’ve got even a bit of a green thumb, you can reap the same benefits in your own backyard by creating a forest-like oasis and incorporating rich sensory elements into your own green space. Here’s what to try.

1.
A meandering path invites you to wander. Mulch and gravel are the cheapest options; just remove the sod, roll out landscape fabric, and fill.

2.
For height, color and texture, plant NoCo-friendly trees and shrubs like ash leaf spirea, burning bush, Cheyenne privet, mountain mahogany, and PeeGee hydrangea.

3.
Visit often and engage in what is called “place tending,” where you gain intimate knowledge of the changing flora, fauna, light, seasonal blooms and changes.

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