Landscape Architects Champion (Guess What?) Mud Pies!

Dated: October 26 2020

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Last Thursday, the professional blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects championed an unlikely health abettor: "mud pies." At first blush, that sounds more like an April Fool’s joke than a serious proposition, but the explanation was both eye-opening and consequential. For St. Cloud homeowners who are beginning to plan ambitious yard renovations they will tackle next spring, it could provide the kind of input that fires the imagination.

The authors, landscape architects Amy Wagenfeld and Missy Benson, first point out that most Americans live as members of a predominantly indoor society with little connection with nature. Even so, as St. Cloud parents already know, "expanding sensory opportunities in outdoor spaces for children is always important"—all the more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, "Mud Pies" is a shorthand way of referring to the kind of memorable outdoor experiences that engage the senses.

In fact, research has demonstrated that rich outdoor sensory experiences both provide stress release and build positive memories—some of which last a lifetime. When the authors were commissioned to provide "a new sensory courtyard design" for a retirement community, they heard evidence from nursing staff members about the effect "mud pies" can have on patients with dementia. Some of them lived only in the past, but with happy memories that were stimulated by being in an outdoor environment. Others, lacking such experiences, lived "in a painful past fraught with sad memories."

For St. Cloud homeowners plotting their own backyard makeovers, a number of strategies for creating sensory-enriched features ("Sensory Gardens") are detailed in a chart first published in Children's Outdoor Environments PPN. It describes various features and the senses they engage. "Water runnels," for instance, stimulate visual, touch, auditory, and other senses. With the addition of a table and outdoor sink, a garden area featuring culinary herbs, fruits, and vegetables can become a "food forest." By offering immediate opportunities to prep and eat the produce, it stimulates touch, taste, smell, balance, and more.

It's easy to see how such features can be enriching for children and adults—and how those memories can last a lifetime. How St. Cloud backyards might be transformed by including impactful sensory-rich spaces is an idea worth considering. Especially for gung-ho gardeners who will be cooped up over upcoming rainy winter days, just imagining the possibilities could be valuable all by itself!

Homeownership has benefits that extend far beyond the roof over your head. I hope you'll call me to address your St. Cloud real estate questions and needs!

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Noel Johnson

Passion for investing in real estate brought me to create Premier Real Estate Services in 2002. Years of purchasing, developing, and managing several rental properties, while assisting friends & cli....

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