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how to create a therapy garden health benefits

how to create a therapy garden by plantpowerz

how to create a therapy garden


A therapy garden is designed to enhance the spirit, to heal, to restore, to teach, to provide a sanctuary, and to engage the senses.


Horticultural therapists suggest designing gardens that meet physical, psychological, and social needs.  Consider the following:

Colour:  Add colour for interest, beauty and to attract butterflies and bees. Consider planting cooler shades, like violet, blue and green in meditation areas.

Exercise: If space allows add winding paths, grids, labyrinth / maze, and provide handrails and rest points.

Add sculptures, water features, or features that attract attention

and encourage discussion and movement  through the garden.

Add a kitchen garden: herb, fruits, berries, and vegetable patches to improve diets and culinary skills, whilst gaining pleasure from growing and eating your own fresh organic produce.

Lighting: Add well placed solar lighting to enjoy the garden at night.

Add art, ornamental trees, shrubs and grasses to and interest and to show personality.

Create areas for quiet reflection.  Consider different levels of privacy, and if space allows accommodate individuals and groups.

Repeat colours, shapes and spacing to help calm the mind.

Safety: Consider non-toxic plants and non-slip even walkways. If space allows, paths should be at least five feet wide enough to accommodate and turn wheelchairs. To avoid glare, surfaces should not be shiny, consider tinted concrete.

Scent: Add flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees that attract butterflies, bees, birds, and other wildlife. Consider adding fragrant plants, trees and herbs, like eucalyptus, jasmine, lavender, magnolia, peppermint and rosemary.

Seating: Add chairs, walls or benches.  Consider adding sturdy seating with back and arm support for lengthy sittings.

Shade: Add tables with umbrellas, gazebos or pergolas to accommodate varying tolerances to light exposure.

Sound: Add water features: the soothing sound of a cascading waterfall calms the mind and adds life to the garden. Water features make good focal points and they entice wildlife.  Add soothing wind chimes to sound in the wind.

Special Occasions: Plant flowers to mark special occasions: plant roses for Valentines Day, Daffodils for spring, Poppies for Veteran’s Day, and so on, to celebrate.

Choose a style: urban, rural, formal, informal, Zen and so on. Avoid clutter to bring a sense of serenity.

Sustainability: Consider garden maintenance by planting some perennials, and paths and structures that do not require a lot of maintenance.

Vary heights to create a more visually appealing garden.

Wildlife: Leave uncultivated areas, like long grass in spots, to attract and shelter wildlife.


Nature improves our emotions, sense of well-being and health.  Reduces stress and promotes healing.  Stress impairs our immune system and its ability to fight infection. Time spent with nature lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and increases the absorption of Vitamin D, which is needed to get calcium into bones and strengthen the immune system.

Research done by Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D., Director at the Center for Health Systems and Design Texas A & M University found that simply having views of nature evoked positive feelings and reduced stress. He found post-surgery patients who had views of nature recovered far more quickly and made fewer negative comments, and needed less pain medication, compared to those with a view of a brick wall.