Can you feel it? Summer is in full swing and nature is begging us to get off the couch (away from the screens) and spend time outside. Sadly, too many of us spend far too much time inside. It’s time to change that by bringing our indoor activities outside—this summer, and beyond!
Kris Kiser is president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) as well as the TurfMutt Foundation (<turfmutt.com>). He founded TurfMutt as an environmental education and stewardship program to encourage outdoor learning experiences, and was inspired to do so by his rescue dog, Lucky.
Kiser believes that nature starts right at our doorstep, and we can all benefit from bringing our indoor activities outdoors—a practice that he calls “backyarding.” All of us (kids and dogs included!) can find creative ways to incorporate nature into our everyday lives.
One very interesting way that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our daily habits has been to help us embrace the outdoors. “The pandemic shifted our thinking,” Kiser explains. “The ‘safe space’ was outdoors, and that encouraged us to reconnect with nature.” He believes that the trend is here to stay. From exercising to entertaining, we can do so much outside!
The key, explains Kiser, is to “tailor your outdoor space to suit your needs.” For example, Kiser loves working in his outdoor office. He suggests thinking of your unique needs, hobbies, and interests, and then creating a plan to make your perfect outdoor space a reality. [DESIGN]
Do you have children? Do you have pets? Do you love to read in a hammock or meditate outdoors? The more personalized your space is, the more you’ll love to be in it.
Make your outdoor space your very own with a …
Keep in mind, Kiser adds, that “nature isn’t just pretty. It’s also a habitat.” For this reason, he suggests knowing your “zone” (to know which plants grow best in your area) and incorporating plants that help support pollinators.
You may also wish to consider checking with your municipality and adding a rainwater collecting system or composter.
An estimated one-third of Canadians live in apartments and may not have a yard. However, it’s still possible—and important!—to enjoy nearby green space. Kiser recommends embracing local parks and community land, such as signing up for a plot at a community garden, walking nearby trails, or simply taking in the calming atmosphere of the forest (a practice known as “forest bathing”).
Yard or no yard, we can all benefit from outdoor community spaces, whether enjoying hiking trails, having a picnic at the lake, or going to the playground with the family. For a fun and unique outing, consider checking out nearby outdoor gyms, disc golf courses, botanical gardens, or walking labyrinth paths.
For those with balconies, it can also be a fun and creative pursuit to make your balcony your own outdoor oasis.
Looking for a fun family activity? Teach your kids about nature with a scavenger hunt! Help them identify common plants in your area to see if they can find them locally. Even young children can get involved if you use pictures to help identify the plants. Aim for a variety, including trees, flowers, grasses, and berries.
Spending time outside isn’t just fun—it also has countless health benefits for us and for our kids. Researchers believe that spending quality time in nature may …
Doing some landscaping? Consider an alternative lawn filled with drought-resistant, pollinator-friendly plants. There are even lawn solutions that look and feel similar to traditional grass.
Looking for more advice on how to get your kids outside? Check out the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada (childnature.ca) and the Children & Nature Network (childrenandnature.org).