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Sonoma County Gazette
relaxing with a book and a friend in the garden

What Is a Sanctuary Garden and How to Build One

Mar 9, 2018


By Tim Moore

Everyone needs a place to escape reality. That might be in the latest novel you are reading or in your own head. That doesn’t matter. What matters most is that, when you are looking to escape reality for just a little while, do you have an appropriate place to do this?

Your answer might be, “Yes. I go to my bedroom” or “that’s what my living room is for.” Sure, these rooms serve their purposes but what we are suggesting is that you build a sanctuary garden on your property. If you have the means to make this happen you will find that creating a space that serves no other purpose other than for you to “get away from it all” makes the goal all the easier on you.

Surround yourself with beauty

What Is It?

In short, a sanctuary garden is a place that combines the outdoors with an escape. The name does not lie. Of course, there are people reading this who don’t have backyards but that doesn’t matter. If you have a front or back porch you can create a sanctuary garden out there. You can even build one inside if this is your only option.

All you need are a few essential items to make this space a place where you can go to relax and let the dirt of the busy day wash off of you, theoretically of course.

Why Do You Need One?

We covered that a bit in the last section but we would like to delve into this a little further. Life gets hectic and, even in a beautiful part of the world like Sonoma County, we have our bad days. Sure, we escape having to worry about fixing or purchasing snow blowers like some of the countries colder locations, but we have our own share of worries and stresses.

Breathe the oxygen deeply to refresh your body

When you have a garden, a place where plants are emitting oxygen, you can just sit and close your eyes for a few minutes of meditation. It’s here where you can reflect on your day, or your life, and be one with nature to take all your anxieties away. People who take some time disconnect with the stressful world we live in will attest that they are all the better for it. Not only mentally, but physically as well.

How to Build It?

First off you need to decide where you want your sanctuary garden to be. If you are putting it outside make sure to give yourself enough sun and shade throughout the day. There are times when we want to feel the rays and sometimes we do not. Of course, if you choose to put it in an area of your yard that is sunny make sure to wear your sunscreen.

place a bird bath in landscape to add life along with water

As we’ve mentioned, you can use an area of a porch or your apartment to build a garden but if you can, try to make it outside because the fresh air is part of the whole experience.

What Do You Need?

There are some items that are essential to your sanctuary garden, so let’s take a look at those.


It isn’t a garden if there aren’t any plants. But what plants and how many of them you will be putting in your garden is completely up to you. Some of us have a green thumb and prefer our gardens to be as green as they can possibly be while others don’t have that much time and would be happy with a plant on the table or on the porch.

The best thing about this project is what works best for you. Try to keep with plants and vegetation that is typical in your area. Sonoma County has a myriad of plant life that call this area home, so find out what those are and pick your favorites. If you need advice check out Sonoma County gardening resources here.

Comfortable Furniture

Comfort can come in colorsWhen you are sitting in your sanctuary you don’t want to be doing it in a chair that makes your backache. Choose your furniture wisely. You may find that your sanctuary garden becomes a place where you spend a lot of your free time so you want to be comfortable.

Also, you need a table, even if you are using a garden and not the porch. On this table you can create a shrine, if this is something you are into, or you can have a Zen garden in your sanctuary garden with sand and a rake for you to use while you are freeing your mind of excess stress from the day.


It’s always good to have water to drink in your metallic container and by all means, make sure there is a place for your water bottle when you start using your new sanctuary garden. But, there is another way to add water to your garden that won’t require drinking.

Invite wild guests for entertainmentWe are referring to a fountain. There are tabletop water fountains and all types of small options if your sanctuary garden is limited onspace. The sound of running water is soothing as we attempt to decompress. Of course, if you live near a body of water then we suggest placing the garden where you can view it easily


If you are building your garden outside, then there is nothing more to do than build. Air surrounds us. Listening to the gentle breeze, while it rustles the trees, is both calming and soothing.

If you are forced to build your sanctuary garden inside, then try to keep it near a window that opens to fully enjoy it. This way you get the fresh air and don’t miss out on this important element.

A windowbox garden filters air coming through your window


These tips should help you create a sanctuary garden all your own. Once it’s in place and you begin to spend time there you will feel its positive impact on your mental state. Also, building one will provide a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Tim Moore is the lead editor of Backyard Boss and is a lifelong backyard enthusiast. He grew up immersed in the outdoors, camping every weekend and tending to the backyard with his family. Follow Tim and Backyard Boss on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for everyday inspiration for your backyard.


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