Best of South Jersey Education Entertainment Health & Fitness Home & Garden People Sports Star Athletes Star Citizens Star Coaches Star Students Star Teachers Star Teams New Homeowner's Resource Guide
Current Issue Previous Issues Subscribe for FREE

Mental Landscape
Surviving Staying at Home

by by Michael Pasquarello, Degreed Landscape Architect, Elite Landscaping

A few months ago I found myself writing about the landscape/outdoor living trends to expect for 2020. That was the beginning of January and outdoor living was a mere glimpse from a frosty window. Now we are well into May, and wow, who would have thought our lives would have been put on hold by an invisible enemy targeting humanity itself. As the country, even the world, finds itself within the confines of “home,” the population is trying to find ways to cope with social distancing. Outdoor living, landscaping and gardening have all proved to be invaluable assets to get us through these unprecedented times.

Governing bodies throughout the country have deemed landscape companies as essential businesses as the ever-tightening economic interaction continues on and allows them to proceed with operations. Lawns are still able to be manicured, fertilization/insecticide applications applied and the planting of flowers, shrubs and trees continues. There’s something about still being able to connect with nature and appreciate it in all its beauty that reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, decreases stress and strengthens one’s sense of well-being. The fact that this has been recognized by the “powers that be” will enable all of us to get through this and keep our sanity.

The balance of physical and mental well-being is an attribute that outdoor living can help in achieving. The implementation of these outdoor spaces can create areas of calm contemplation to reduce over- all stress, leaving one in a more comfortable state of mind. The use of plant material, which appeals to the five senses, along with soothing audio, all add to this healing experience. Active family social  interaction within these environments creates another dimension  to the overall achievement of mental wellness. The same healing  gardens that are seen in health care institutions can  be  recreated on a residential scale and lead you “well” on the way to reaching absolute Zen.

On a smaller scale, container gardens can become a project providing individuals, and even families, a chance to interact and promote increased physical activity while stuck at home.  Sometimes when space is limited much can still be accomplished with the use of decorative container gardens. The days of terracotta pots are long gone and bold colors and designs are available in ceramic, stone and composite. These planting vessels are a great way to add accents of color to your outdoor entertainment space. Cobalt blues, chartreuse greens and crimson reds may seem a bit loud for the more timid gardener, but can provide that little extra pop of needed color. Annual plantings are typically reserved for these container gardens and are removed at the end of the season. An easy way to create added interest is to include plantings of complementing colors, but contrasting textures. The use of grasses/sedges along with flowering plants and trailing vines will create your own personal mini landscape. Edibles are also a great addition not only for their nutritional value, but for the aesthetics of the flower/fruit they produce as well. Nothing is better than fresh-picked herbs and vegetables while dining al fresco on a mid-summer’s night with friends (hopefully) by the time we get to that point.

Connecting with others is the name of the game in keeping a healthy outlook on life. Even if the substitute for “others” is Mother Nature. Let being outside and tending to your garden be your best remedy to ensuring mental well-being on a day-to-day basis. Most importantly, let family be the other. Keep calm and garden on!

Michael Pasquarello is a degreed landscape architect with Elite Landscaping. Email him at or call (856) 753-1944. Visit for more information.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 (June 2020).
For more info on Suburban Family Magazine, click 
For information about advertising in Suburban Family Magazine, click 
To find out where to pick up your copy of Suburban Family Magazine, click