Gardens that are designed to engage the five senses are known as sensory gardens. These gardens are designed to provide an enjoyable experience for all of the senses, including touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight. And there are plenty of ways to make your environment more interesting, stimulating, and immersive.
While it’s important to make your backyard look good, you shouldn’t forget about functionality. After the aesthetic aspects are considered, the practical aspects are usually considered next, such as a kid’s play area or an outdoor eating area. If you want to help support nature, you might want to consider rewilding your garden. But a backyard can offer so much more. You can make your courtyard a soothing and engaging space by thinking carefully about features that will maximize all the senses.
According to Imogen Jackson, sensory gardens are designed to engage the senses of touch, taste, and hearing, encouraging visitors to appreciate their surroundings. Imogen works as the head gardener for Horatio’s Garden, a charity that builds gardens in NHS spinal injury centers. Experiencing different smells, tastes, textures, and sounds can bring back happy memories from the past or provide a much-needed distraction from current hardships.’ The senses can trigger memories and affect the emotions, either positively or negatively. Smells, tastes, textures, and sounds can all bring back happy memories or provide a much-needed distraction from current hardships. According to the text, spending time in a sensory garden can improve sleep and wellbeing. Additionally, it can increase mindfulness and mood, and encourage people of all ages to spend more time outside.
1. Pollinator-friendly landscaping
Birds, butterflies and bees are all important parts of a sensory garden. As you stroll through your garden, you may enjoy the sound of a singing bird, the colorful sight of butterflies, and the buzzing of bees.
Not only are pollinators aesthetically pleasing in your outdoor living space, but they also help keep your plants healthy and your local ecosystem thriving. If you want to have a successful vegetable garden, you need to make sure to plant things that will attract bees. Bees are necessary for some plants, like cucumbers, to be able to produce fruit. In general, pollinators are responsible for ensuring that one out of every three bites of food is available to people.
How do you attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds? Tasty nectar from native plants is key for these flying friends. Consider adding flowering perennials and vines like:
- Trumpet vine
- Bee balm
- Butterfly milkweed (make sure it’s the native variety)
2. Discourages use of pesticides
To get the most out of your sensory garden, you’ll experience it with all your senses – touching, tasting, smelling. You don’t want to have to worry about eating toxic pesticides when you eat homegrown strawberries.
If you are creating a sensory garden for people who are vulnerable to pesticides, it is especially important to use plants that have low levels of pesticides. This includes elderly people and young children, who can be affected by pesticides on a neurological level. Broad-spectrum insecticides can kill both the insects you want gone as well as the ones you want to keep, like the pollinators you invited to your garden.
Broad-spectrum insecticides aren’t the only option for pest control. There are a few general organic pest control techniques that work to get rid of most crawling critters, even though each one has its own specific treatment.
Alternatives to pesticides:
- Neem oil
- Beneficial nematodes
- Increase biodiversity by inviting pollinators (by planting native plants and having clean water and feed available for birds)
- Good cultural practices (like dethatching lawn grass and eliminating standing water from your landscape)
3. Encourages use of native plants
Native plants are the unsung heroes of backyard gardening. The plants are designed to grow in your landscape and they have adapted over hundreds of years to do well in a particular climate.
Why would you want to use native plants in a sensory garden? Native plants are easier to maintain than other plants, and they also produce some of the most eye-catching and fragrant blooms. This is because their survival relies on their ability to attract pollinators. This means that they have the ability to please your senses of sight and smell, and they are essential for making your landscape attractive to pollinators.
Native plants help the environment because they:
- Require less water
- Don’t need fertilizer to thrive
- Have fewer pest problems
- Provide food and shelter for local wildlife
4. Helps kids learn about nature
If you want to help a child develop a stronger connection to nature, a sensory garden is a great option. A sensory garden is a stimulating environment that can keep a child engaged, inspire their curiosity, and be both playful and calming. A sensory garden is a place where children can explore their senses through touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste.
Kids can explore and feel independent by climbing trees and discovering “secret” areas. A sensory garden is a great way to encourage creativity, learning, and exploration.
5. Supports seniors
Sensory gardens are good for both young children and older adults. Being responsible for a garden gives you the opportunity to get some exercise, soak up some vitamin D, and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Sensory gardens can offer a lot of creative fun, especially for kids. There is also a connection between our sense of smell and our ability to remember things, which could lead to happy memories. The smell of rosemary can remind you of a specific meal or a trip to the Mediterranean.
A space that is joyful and interesting, but also safe and enclosed, can benefit seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. If you are designing a garden with the intention of it being looped, make sure to include a winding walkway.
6. Healing for people with disabilities
A sensory garden can be a place of refuge for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It can provide a calm and relaxing environment for people who may often feel overwhelmed by sensation and noise. The Els Center for Excellence has a sensory garden that uses different sensory stimulations to help reduce stress and anxiety while also encouraging social engagement.
Sensory gardens are an accessible way for people in wheelchairs to experience all the benefits of the outdoors without the inconveniences. It is important to keep paths smooth and clear of debris.
Blind and deaf people can certainly benefit from a sensory garden. The garden amplifies the other senses and allows people to enjoy an environment with different types of beauty.
There is no better setting for a dinner party than a sensory paradise. A sensory garden is perfect for entertaining guests. It will make your gatherings more enjoyable for everyone. A party with a meal made from ingredients grown in your own garden, a display of butterflies, and songbirds in the background will be something your guests will remember.
8. Bolsters mental health
We thought that a breath of fresh air was good for us, but it turns out that it is even better than we thought. Being outdoors can make us feel happier, do better in school or work, and think more clearly. A study done in 2019 found that people who listened to nature sounds, did significantly better on cognitive tests, than people who listened to an urban setting soundtrack.
A sensory garden has benefits for your health beyond encouraging you to get outside. It also helps you live more in the present. Intentionally practicing mindfulness (like sitting on a bench and focusing on your senses) can have significant effects on our ability to learn, recover from injuries and illness, and boost creativity and memory.
9. Supports physical health
Having an outdoor space that you enjoy spending time in can improve your physical and mental health. A sunny location is the perfect spot to set up your sensory garden, and by enjoying it you can get much needed vitamin D. This nutrient supports immune health and can help regulate your mood, making it an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does planting tasty vegetables and fruits make your overall diet more exciting, but it also increases your vitamin intake.
Caring for your garden also means caring for yourself. Gardening is a good way to get some light aerobic exercise, which can help improve your heart and lung health and prevent high blood pressure and diabetes.
Gardening can also help improve your sleep quality. If you go outside in the morning, it will help to regulate your internal clock and you will be less likely to wake up in the middle of the night.
TIPS TO CREATE A SOOTHING AMBIENCE IN YOUR PLOT
If you’re looking for ways to make your garden more enjoyable, try adding some of these sensory elements. Water features can help cool the air on hot days, while fragrant plants can make the garden smell great.
1. ADD COOLING POOLS
They can provide both the sights and the sounds of moving water, which can help to create a calming atmosphere. Water features are great ideas for sensory gardens because they provide both the visual and auditory stimulation of moving water, which can help create a calm atmosphere. The water sparkling in the sun, the dragonflies and other wildlife, the refreshing coolness, and the sound of a bird splashing all make it a welcome sight.
Imogen Jackson from Horatio’s Garden states that the sound, sight, and feel of water trickling is very calming and pleasant. The water features are the most popular spaces in Horatio’s Gardens.
Weather-resistant steel pools like this one give your yard a rustic yet modern feel. You could even add more than one to make a real statement. Planting greenery around the perimeter of the area will create a more natural look. The peaceful scene of one or two lilies floating calmly on the water is delightful for both kids and adults, and will only make the experience more enjoyable.
2. SURROUND DOORWAYS WITH SCENTED FLOWERS
Nepeta, or catmint, and lavender are two stunning perennials with mesmerizing purple blooms. Place this plant in a sunny spot near your front or back door and you’ll be delighted not only by its appearance, but also by the wonderful fragrance it will add to the air.
Lavender placed along a pathway will bring happiness to anyone who walks by. The following guide will help you to get started on planting a lavender hedge.
3. ADD STEPPING STONES ACROSS WATER
This pond has sleek edges and would make a stunning focal point in a sensory garden. The plant provides a strong contrast against the other plants in the bed that are brightly colored.
Meanwhile, the stepping stones encourage visitors to be more mindful of their journey across the water, and to slow down and consider their journey more carefully.
Adding roses to a nearby pergola will enhance the senses even more with their well-loved fragrance. Our guide on how to prune roses will be useful for you if you love roses as much as we do and want to keep them in good condition.
4. PICK SOOTHING COLOR SCHEMES
Decide if you want an area to be calming or invigorating, and choose colors for your plants accordingly, Imogen Jackson, Head Gardener at Horatio’s Garden Midlands, suggests. She says that green is the most calming color, and that blues, purples, and whites can also help to create a calming atmosphere.
The flowerbed above is lovely, with a mix of textures and forms in a streamlined palette. The large heads of alliums are especially noticeable and will keep their shape even when they go to seed.
Our guide to garden color schemes has more inspiration.
5. WELCOME IN WILDLIFE
‘Encourage wildlife,’ advises Imogen Jackson. They hover and flit, adding their distinctive sounds to the ambience’ Birds, bees and butterflies can make a garden much more enjoyable and beneficial by adding their own movement and sounds. Birdsong can have a calming and uplifting effect on people when they listen to it.
If you want to attract creatures to your yard or garden, you can provide them with food, shelter, places to forage, and perches using bird feeders, habitat plants, bird tables, nesting boxes, and a bug hotel. You can find out how to make a bug hotel by following our guide. Our tips on how to attract birds into your garden are also worth a look if you want to welcome feathered friends.
“Imogen adds that native plants will help support local wildlife.” For more ideas on how to turn your garden into a wildlife haven, check out our feature.
6. GROW EDIBLE CROPS
If you’re looking for raised garden bed ideas, why not try growing your own crops? In other words, you’ll get everyone to appreciate the simple things in life that nature has to offer. According to Imogen Jackson of Horatio’s Garden, raised beds, tall pots, and trellises can help bring plants within reach.
This is important to remember, depending on who will be using your garden. Make sure to account for safety. Beware of mixing edible and non-edible plants. It would make sense to not include poisonous, prickly, and thorny plants.