Do you have an outdoor space you love to be in? Spending time outside is more than just enjoyable — some studies have actually shown that it reduces stress. In fact, even indoor plants have a noticeable effect on stress levels. Whether your private oasis is in a backyard, on a balcony, or inside the house, here’s some advice on how to create the perfect green space for any space or budget.

1. Pick your purpose. What kind of outdoor space do you want to create? If you’re interested in gardening, you may want flower beds, a vegetable garden, or planters for useful kitchen herbs. If you have pets, you may be looking to create a space where they can safely enjoy the outdoors, too. If you’re interested in entertaining or eating outdoors, you’ll need tables, seating, and lighting. Decide what needs you want to fulfill, and then design around those needs.

2. Pick your plants. To create a healthy green space, it’s crucial to choose the right plants. Make sure to do plenty of research on plants that will thrive in the climate and lighting conditions that are available to you. Find out what’s necessary to keep them alive — are you prepared to fertilize, prune, and weed, or would you prefer more low-maintenance plants? If you have pets or children, be wary of plants that are poisonous.

3. Make it comfortable. You can create a beautiful outdoor space, but if you don’t make it enjoyable to spend time in, you won’t use it! Choose comfortable, weather-resistant seating, and furniture. If you’re working with a small area, try using multi-purpose, space-saving furniture like wall planters, storage benches, or collapsing tables to make efficient use of the space you have. If you get a lot of suns, build a pergola or install a canvas shade to create a cool, shady refuge.

4. Make it stylish. Some research has indicated that being in an aesthetically beautiful place can actually make us happier! There’s no reason your outdoor space shouldn’t be just as beautiful as your indoor spaces. Choose attractive pots (or DIY your own) for potted plants, add an outdoor rug for flavor, or add stylish string lights to bring character to an area. If your yard or patio has an unattractive view or faces another home, try installing privacy fencing or screening to reclaim your haven.

Maybe you need a little more greenery in your life. Maybe you’re finding that the greenery you do have is being underutilized. No matter the reason you’re dreaming of your very own outdoor sanctuary, with a little planning and a weekend or two of work, you can turn those dreams into reality!

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