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Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing 101: An In-Depth Look Into The Healing Practice

While it might conjure images of a clawfoot tub nestled in trees, the term “forest bathing” refers to a more metaphorical experience in nature—one where your surroundings wash over you, cleansing you from the outside in.

Different from more goal-oriented exercises like hiking or camping, forest bathing is more akin to an outdoor sensory meditation. And in today’s increasingly urbanized and tech-driven age, it’s more appealing and important than ever.

Why did we start forest bathing in the first place?

Forest bathing as it’s known today began in the 1980s on the trails of Akasawa, a forest in central Japan. Akasawa now doubles as a living laboratory—a place where stressed-out city dwellers can go to find respite and then take part in a study on how the time in the forest has changed them on a physiological level. Cabins dotted throughout the trees are full of researchers looking to find proof of concept that forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku as its known in Japan, really does make us happier and healthier.

Japan is home to some of the most crowded cities in the world so it may seem like an odd location for this sort of study, but Japanese culture and traditions actually maintain a strong reverence for nature. Case in point: “Greenery Day”, an occasion reserved for taking in the beauty of the natural world, is a beloved national holiday.

As more research continues to emerge from these woods, the practice is gaining legitimacy around the world. There are now hundreds of certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guides in the U.S. working to connect people with the healing power of the woods, and nations like Finland, considered to be one of the happiest in the world, have designated “well-being themed” forests that prompt visitors to stop and connect with their surroundings with signs like “squat down and touch a plant”.

Forest Bathing

Why is being in the forest so good for us?

Wondering how much good a walk in the forest can possibly do for the body? A whole lot. One experiment across 24 forests in Japan measured people’s blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, and cortisol levels (the hormone that is released when we’re stressed out) after they took a walk in the woods and compared to those of people who walked in city surroundings. Though it was on a small cohort of 12 participants, the study found that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure. Another measured sleep patterns of participants after a forest bathing trip. Beforehand, the forest bathers reported having insomnia. After a two-hour walk in the woods? Their average sleep time increased by 45 minutes.

Researchers suspect that the forest’s stress-reducing, mood-boosting powers come from compounds known as terpenes, which are found in the oils that plants give off. Abundantly available in Conifers like fir, cedar, and spruce trees, these terpenes have been shown to improve brain health, in addition to boosting immunity. Another study found that an immersion in the forest could increase the body’s levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that fights infection in the body. This is even more incredible when you consider that one 3-day trip to the woods actually boosted participant’s NK levels for up to 30 days afterward.

We adapted from the natural world, so the idea that nature holds the capacity to heal us is pretty easy to believe. While more research is still needed to determine the exact mechanisms driving these responses, the Japanese government now officially recognizes Shinrin-yoku as a healthful practice and “forest medicine” has become a legitimate Rx in the country.

Forest Bathing

Want to get started? It couldn’t be easier.

Embarking on a forest bathing journey of your own is as simple as finding a slice of nature, ditching your phone, and tuning into your surroundings. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the most restorative outing possible.

1.) Go somewhere what works for you.

While forest bathing is often practiced in the woods, that doesn’t mean city dwellers can’t enjoy it. Seeking out gardens and tree-lined streets can work too! However, you’re more likely to find terpenes in areas with dense tree cover—especially just after a rainstorm.

Dr. Qing Li, one of world's foremost expert in forest medicine and a leader of the research coming out of Japan, argues that the practice is as essential to well-being as diet or exercise. In his new book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, he writes that in order to find calm in nature, you must find a spot that speaks to you and you alone. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution—it differs from person to person,” he writes. “For some it will be the sound of water flowing over pebbles in a stream or squirrels chattering to each other in the branches. For others it is the scent of the air, or the sight of the forest bursting into greenery at the beginning of spring.”

2.) Engage the senses as a shortcut to mindfulness.

Once you find a place where you feel at ease, it’s time to lean in and engage the five senses. Jo Fleming, a certified Forest Therapy Guide, recounts the mindful journey in the Montana wilderness that inspired her to first seek her certification in saying, “I could taste and smell how fresh, moist and cold the air was. There were a wide array of sounds of that space—leaves quivering as gusts blew up, a river crashing and tumbling rhythmically behind me somewhere, the birds and squirrels scratching at the bark, twigs and debris on the ground and trees. I took another deep breath and closed my eyes and just listened. As my fear began to dissipate it was replaced with a growing feeling of peace. I kind of melted into that place.” Since that transformative experienced, she’s found that tuning into the sights, smells, and sounds of nature has been a shortcut to happiness and creative living.

3.) Don’t overthink it.

At the end of the day, the “rules” of forest bathing are few and it’s just about quieting the mind in order to connect with your body and your surroundings. “Forest bathing is about slowing down, allowing things to emerge around us, and letting ourselves melt into a place to the point where we don't feel separate [from nature] anymore,” says Fleming. “We have no idea what will emerge and that's what is so inviting.”

And what a beautiful notion that is: that returning to nature feels a lot like coming home.

Behind the Scenes of a Living Green Wall

Behind the Scenes of a Living Green Wall

A living green wall creates a visual impact on visitors to your space it mystifies the average viewer. How plants stay healthy and in place seems like magic, but it’s due to careful planning and maintenance. Living walls, just like healthy gardens planted in the earth, are designed layer by layer with plants chosen to succeed in a given set of conditions.

The key to a successful living green wall is sufficient planning to ensure all plants stay healthy over time. This includes making sure to have enough water and nutrients giving them enough room to breathe. It also includes selecting plants, which will stay healthy and vibrant, in the framework of the green wall.

How Do Plants Stay in The Wall?

How Do Plants Stay Healthy in a Green Wall?

For the viewer, plants in a green wall seem to be suspended as if growing directly into the wall itself. Underneath the layers of plants, is a framework panel structure, which holds the plants in place. The root systems of the plants grow into the framework creating a bond that helps them stay put. Panels are often infused with nutrients, encouraging plant health. To Reiterate, planning is vital to ensure a successful design and installation.

How Do Plants Stay Healthy in a Green Wall?

To stay healthy, plants need water, nutrients, and proper lighting. Living green walls incorporate irrigation systems, which deliver what plants need, without oversaturation or structural water damage. Some plant walls systems incorporate drip irrigation systems, which waters the entire system. While others use some form of recirculation systems. To do this, additional infrastructure such as plumbing, electric, and drainage may be required.

In recirculation systems, an irrigation tank is often placed under or behind the wall to capture, any excess water collected. Water is then recirculated within the system. Recirculation systems keep the amount of water used on green wall plants to a minimum, helping to conserve water.

What Kind of Maintenance is Required?

What Kind of Maintenance is Required?If allowed to grow unchecked, the plant's design can escape from the structure, especially plants that grow quickly. Some plant types can grow as much as 18 inches in one season, leading them to overwhelm other plants within the design.

In addition to trimming and pruning plants that grow out of check, maintenance will help monitor plant health and ensure the irrigation and nutrient systems are functioning properly.

If you are interested in having a living wall installed in your residential or commercial space, Plant Solutions can help. Our team can help with planning and installation of the right plants, and other elements, to create the look you want in a living green wall. Contact us at 480.585.8501 to get started.

Arizona indoor landscaping

How Most Companies Are Using Interior Landscaping to Support Wellness Programs

An employee wellness plan is a great way to keep workers healthy while reducing the number of medical costs an employer incurs. Wellness programs may have started with simple initiatives like health tests and screening for common diseases, however, modern programs include more innovative components, like health and fitness classes which help keep employees in good shape and interior landscaping to lower employee stress levels. Here are some popular ways that leading companies use indoor landscaping to promote wellness in the workplace and keep employees as healthy as possible.

Create Quiet Spaces for Relaxation and Reflection

High-stress environments, where employees are pressured to get large volumes of work done, suffer from high turnover rates. Employees can’t always keep up with the stress and leave for an environment that doesn’t cause so much anxiety. This ongoing need to recruit and train new workers is costly fArizona interior landscapingor the employer and frustrating for management. Retaining employees, especially those that perform well, is well worth the effort it takes on the employer’s part.

Creating green spaces, where employees can take a break during the workday, can help lower stress and create higher levels of creativity. Depending on the spaces available onsite, employers can create an atrium or courtyard to feature living plants or when conditions are not ideal use artificial plants, which mimic the effect of living foliage. These spaces use artificial plants, which mimic the effect of living foliage. It helps an employee’s morale knowing there is a wellness space where they can relax and de-stress if even for just a few minutes. Including living plants in these spaces, brings health benefits, such as cleaner indoor air. These may seem like small measures but combined, they can be enough to help keep employees from becoming overstressed, or burned out, leading them to seek other employment.

Include Natural Light Sources Wherever Possible

Interior landscaping is more than just placing plants in an office space. A skilled interior landscaping company will work with you from the design stages to ensure that the important components for the continued health of the plants are put in place from the beginning. Proper lighting levels and the Incorporation of natural light into your commercial space will help the plants flourish, thereby benefiting employee health. Fluorescent lighting is harsh, particularly after eight hours or more of sitting in a room lit by these bulbs. Headaches, difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, and eye strain can all be caused by overexposure to fluorescent light.

Hold Team Building Activities in A Relaxing Space That Features Plants

Creating a team atmosphere among your employees should be part of your wellness program. Activities that bring people together in a relaxing space can help employees build a feeling of team spirit while simultaneously reducing stress levels. The perfect indoor landscaping will help these activities to be successful by putting team members in the right mind frame. Holding team building sessions where plants and colors are featured will lower employees blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stimulating creative energy.

Arizona interior landscaping

Interior landscaping can play a vital part in your employee wellness program, but only if you partner with an experienced interior landscape service to ensure that the plants and other components are well thought out and cared for. Plant Solutions has experience with helping employers of all sizes create commercial spaces that encourage better health and wellness. Contact us at 480.585.8501 to find out more about how we can help you.

Harnessing the Power of Scent with Indoor Living Wall Planters in Gilbert

Tips for making Interior renovation more plant-focused

A key part of modernizing any project is including natural elements to create a smooth transition from outside to inside and bring certain calming elements from nature to the inside space. Regardless of whether you’re renovating a home or workspace, including more plants is a great way to make your surroundings feel lighter and brighter. The inclusion of plants also helps occupants feel more at ease and stay healthier. Plants can naturally improve the indoor air quality and by being around them, it can relieve stressful feelings and make guests feel more welcome and at home.

Despite the advantages that plants bring to an indoor space, some interior designers shy from including plant life in their designs. Including plants in a design may seem confusing for designers or architects without a lot of knowledge about plants, however, it can be easier than it seems. Here are some tips to make it easier to include more plants in your next renovation design.

Consider Using an Indoor Plant Design and Maintenance Service

Include Plant Solutions in your renovation planning
so they can help you determine where
adding new living greenery will be most
appropriate and well received.

Home and office designs that include many plants can be held back due to an anticipated fear of ongoing maintenance. The building or homeowner might have reservations about how difficult it might be to keep the plants alive and thriving or replace them if they die. The simplest way to ensure that the interior continues to flourish is to plan on the use of an indoor plant maintenance service. Similar to using a landscaping service: these are some of the things this type of service would handle:

  • Care for the indoor plants: This service will ensure that the plants remain healthy and are getting all the light and nutrients that they need.
  • Maintenance of the indoor plants: This service will make sure that plants are pruined, watered, and cared for appropriately.

The main difference between an indoor plant maintenance service and a regular landscaping service is that our company handles the care and maintenance of the plants that are inside the building space. Regular visits from a Phoenix plant service can be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, depending on how often care is needed. They will monitor the condition of the plants, alert the appropriate person to any plants that may be developing issues and assist with replacing any plants that may be sick or dying. By doing this the maintenance team can ensure that there have been no design flaws with plant placement or variety. This allows the owner to have the best of both worlds. They can have the enjoyable aspects of a design that includes plants, without having to take on the responsibility of caring for them.

Include Interior Plant Design in Your Plans

Planning to include plants in your renovation from the onset is the best way to ensure success in the finished product. This can mean partnering with an indoor landscaping or “plantscaping“ service to get expert advice on where to include plants and what components should be built into the home or office to keep the plants healthy. Planning will allow you to determine the best locations for your plants. You can include built-in planters and shelves that will allow plants to integrate with the design. Planning also allows you to integrate the technical elements that will keep plant life growing as time goes on. If irrigation or plumbing is required to keep plants healthy, it can be included in your renovation plans from the onset. This makes any electrical wiring or draining systems much easier to accomplish.

Redefine What You Consider to Be Office Plants

Talk to Plant Solutions about ongoing
horticultural services.We can help maintain
your plants once we have installed them.

If you are working on an office renovation, don’t limit yourself based on what plants you think will be easiest to include. There was a time that only certain plants were considered in office design due to their hardiness and low maintenance traits. With the advances of technology and the wide range of hybrid plant types now available, there are many more possibilities on the market and many different ways to highlight them within an interior design.

Plants no longer have to simply sit in planters and pots on the floor around the office space or directly in the window. With proper planning and execution, plants can add a stunning visual feature. If the plant you have in mind as inspiration isn’t right for this particular project, an indoor landscaping expert may be able to suggest another variety that gives the same look and has a better chance of surviving, so you still get the visual effect you want. Here at Plant Solutions, our team is comprised of horticultural experts who will be able to offer you a variety of options that will achieve the look and atmosphere that you want to create.

Choose Plant Solutions as Part of Your Renovation Plans

Plant Solutions can help you design, plan, and install any kinds of plants you may want to include in your indoor renovation project, whether it is a residential or commercial space. Call us when you start to plan your new renovation project. Our design team can discuss what ideas and plans you might have for the space as well as give you some advice and let you know what some of your ideas might entail. We will also give you some pointers on types of plants for the rooms you are enhancing as well as offer you our horticultural services to help maintain the new plants that you are looking to have installed in your home or work space. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you with your renovation.

Resources and References


Connect People With Nature Through Biophilic Design

Have you ever been in a mall or large hospital and seen all of the plant life? Have you ever thought about how much more at home those spaces feel compared to the more institutional feeling of doctor’s offices or retail spaces that lack those green touches? Indoor spaces that include elements from nature, like plants, water features, and natural light, offer many advantages for residents or employees. Read more to learn how to connect people with nature through the concept of biophilic design.

What is Biophilic design?

Biophilic design is the name given to interior designs that feature natural elements to help people feel connected with nature, even on the indoors. Biophilia, a concept first made popular as a hypothesis some thirty years ago, is a concept that is found at the heart of some of the most stunning and effective interior designs in the world. People instinctually seek the features of nature, which our bodies were accustomed to living in for many thousands of years. Now that life is conducted mostly indoors, people can feel disconnected from nature, which can lead to depression. High levels of stress and lack of vitamin D are just two of the issues that can arise as the result of lack of interaction with nature. Biophilic design helps to restore the balance by bringing certain natural elements inside, helping people feel healthier and more energetic.

How Do You Create a Biophilic Design?

Plant solutions offers a wide variety of interior
plant services.

Incorporating elements from nature into interior design means bringing some of nature’s best features inside and allowing them to shine in their own way. This means planning is key to making the design work. At Plant Solutions, we partner with designers and builders to ensure any design that includes plants, a living green wall or a water feature has the necessary structural elements behind it to keep it working properly over the long term. Our team draws on years of experience to make each interior design unique and breathtaking.

The Psychological Benefits of Incorporating Natural Elements into Your Designs

Research has shown that just painting the color green on an interior wall inspires calm as it suggests the tranquility of nature. Bringing actual green plants inside takes this suggestion further by mimicking the outdoor environment. Whether they are natural or artificial, being around plants on a regular basis has been shown to have many benefits for people, including:

  • Better and cleaner indoor air
  • Lower stress levels
  • Higher productivity
  • Lower humidity levels

As you can see there are so many benefits to adding green plants to your environment. There are actually some monetary benefits for adding biophilic designs to business areas. It has been proven that employees are more productive in an area that has added green plant life. Studies have also shown that not only are your workers more productive, but in a retail environment your customers are more likely to spend more time and money in your store. There have also been studies that show that doctor’s offices and hospitals that have plants tend to have better rates of healing than those without them.

“Biophilic design helps to restore the balance by bringing certain natural elements inside, helping people feel healthier and more energetic.”

Tips for Making Biophilic Design Work in Any Situation

Some home and business owners are reluctant to include biophilic elements into indoor designs because they anticipate a need for maintenance and care over the years. If you yearn to include natural elements but worry about them getting the care they deserve down the line, here are some easy ways to solve this problem:

  • Choose low maintenance plants that require minimal watering and trimming. For example, succulents are a great choice to give a small touch of fresh greenery in any room, they take up very little room and their signature tightly packed leaves are visually interesting.
  • Hire an indoor plant maintenance service to take care of the plants for you. This allows you to have all the benefits of live plants without having to lift a finger. Horticultural services can be much more affordable than you realize.
  • Select artificial plants to give the suggestion of nature without any of the work. High-quality silk plants look convincingly like the real thing and only need to be dusted occasionally.

The benefits of having these natural elements in your living and working spaces are far to advantageous to not try some of these simple solutions.

Contact Plant Solutions to Incorporate Biophilic Design into Your Life

Choose Plant Solutions for all of your indoor
landscaping needs.

As an experienced indoor landscaping company, Plant Solutions can assist with every aspect of including plants in your latest interior design. We can work with building crews and architects to help plan some of your initial building concepts around some natural ideas. If you have an already existing space, we can come to your home or business and discuss some different ideas and concepts for your area with you.

If you are one of the many people who have steered clear of adding nature into your environment for fear of caring for the plants, worry no more! Here at Plant Solutions, we offer horticultural services. This means that for a very modest fee, we will come out on a regular schedule to water, trim, and care for any plant installations that we do.

No matter what level of biophilic design you are wanting to add, let us help you develop your ideas. We would love to work with you to help you reconnect with nature in your indoor space. Contact us at 480.585.8501 and find out more about how we can help you.

Resources and References

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