Style Inspiration

How to Use Biophilic Design for Your Outdoor Space

Learn how to create a biophilic backyard or outdoor space.

August 29, 2023

Biophilia is the evolutionary theory that humans are hardwired to love nature and want to interact with it because that connection is crucial to survival.  A growing trend, biophilic design’s approach to architecture and life recognizes humans’ innate need to connect with the outdoors and seek solutions to encourage connection. That’s why it's important to create outdoor spaces that beckon us.


What is Biophilic Design?

A biophilic design aims to foster a deep connection between people and nature. As an architectural concept, it merges the beauty of nature with a manufactured exterior space.

Common features of biophilic design include:

  • Living green walls
  • Water features
  • Natural materials
  • Biomorphic shapes
  • Abundance of natural light
  • Native plant landscaping
  • Sustainable furniture

Research shows that biophilic design can lead to a 15% higher level of well-being and a boost in creativity and productivity. If you need more relaxation and rejuvenation in your life, let’s begin exploring different ways to incorporate a biophilic design into your outdoor space.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

For centuries, cultures around the world have recognized the vital role nature plays in creating a sense of well-being. Biophilia means “the love of nature.” It is derived from the ancient Greek “bio,” which means life, and “philia,” which means love. 

The term was first used in the 1960s by German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm and popularized in the late 1980s by American biologist Edward O. Wilson, who reported a biological basis for human’s connection to the natural world.

The way we interact with nature has changed profoundly over the years. Today, we experience lower levels of daily contact with nature than any previous generation, creating a dangerous sense of disconnect in terms of both physical and mental health. It is estimated that we spend 90% of our time indoors. 

Here are some biophilic design benefits for the design of outdoor spaces:

  • Improved Health: Cultures that were traditionally tied to the outdoors experience increased feelings of depression and isolation when faced with development and modernization. Humans improve their mental and physical health when exposed to natural environments. 
  • Stronger Cognition: Studies show exposure to nature strengthens cognitive performance including the ability to deal with stress.
  • Happier: Studies show people who have stronger connections with nature are happier than those who don’t.
  • Children’s Health: Playing in more natural playgrounds increases creativity, curiosity, and imagination in children.
  • Aids in Healing: Researchers believe exposure to nature may aid the recovery of hospital patients. That’s also why many hospitals over time added gardens to their facilities.

6  Ideas to Incorporate Biophilic Design into Your Outdoor Space

1. Sustainable Decking Materials

Biophilic design isn’t just about merging nature and construction materials. It’s about creating a connection with the natural world. 

Composite decking is eco-friendly and can serve as the foundation for a respectful relationship with nature and its resources. Trex® composite decking can help you achieve a deck that looks as natural as wood without contributing to environmental degradation.

2. Vertical Gardens and Green Screens

Lush greenery is a must-have biophilic feature. Vertical gardens and green screens are ideal for small spaces where they can add greenery without taking up too much space.

When choosing a plant species for a vertical garden, consider sunlight exposure and irrigation factors. For a simple approach, add climbing plants to a Trex® Pergola™ to create a DIY green screen.

3. Natural Water Features

Incorporating water elements like fountains, cascades, or reflecting pools into your outdoor space is one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy a biophilic design. Hearing and seeing water can create an instant connection to nature and evoke a sense of tranquility and calmness.

If budget is no constraint, it’s possible to construct a small pond or stream in your backyard. But if you’re not up for the challenge, you can easily incorporate a small water fountain into your garden, patio, or deck.

4. Native Plant Landscaping

Adding native plants to your landscaping is one of the most authentic approaches to creating a biophilic outdoor space. By incorporating a variety of native species, you’ll be supporting native wildlife and blurring the lines between your territory and Mother Nature’s.

Native plants can sometimes have a reputation for being less colorful or vibrant than other types. Focus on varieties with year-round appeal and consider each plant’s bloom time for visual balance

5. Nature-Inspired Outdoor Furniture

Many outdoor furniture brands rely on plastic as their go-to material. As plastic is a synthetic material, it’s far from biophilic. Instead of filling your outdoor space with furniture produced from non-renewable resources, consider opting for nature-inspired outdoor furniture.

Trex® Outdoor Furniture™, including Adirondack chairs, benches, and rocking chairs are recyclable and sustainably made from recycled and reusable plastic.

6. Outdoor Fire Pit

Fire pits can make your outdoor space more comfortable, inviting, and biophilic. Like greenery and water, fire is a natural element that can help you feel closer to nature.

You can construct a DIY fire pit using natural materials like stone or metal. But if you want more control and safety features, consider a Trex fire pit table for your deck or patio.

Turn Your Backyard into a Biophilic Oasis with Trex!

By embracing a biophilic design, you can turn your outdoor space into a rejuvenating retreat that can improve your overall well-being. From overflowing vertical gardens to natural water features and sustainable decking and furniture, there are plenty of ways to connect with nature while enjoying the comforts of your deck or patio. 

Explore the Trex Outdoor Collection for more ideas and inspiration on your ideal biophilic retreat.


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