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A Backyard Sensory Garden

 

Wherever you live, a well-designed, well-maintained garden can add value to your property. If you want to change the landscaping and design of your garden it can be difficult to know where to start. You could choose a theme, a cottage garden, or something bolder like a tropical garden. A garden can also be good for health and well-being. Recently, studies have shown the therapeutic benefits of gardening, particularly for older people, those suffering from dementia, and children.

To make the most of the benefits of gardening, you could design a sensory garden. According to the University of Florida, a sensory garden is a garden where plants and other design elements provide experiences for seeing, smelling, hearing, touching and tasting Although often associated with schools or hospitals, you don’t need lots of space to create one. Here are some tips for designing a sensory garden for your backyard.

First Steps

Before designing the garden, think about who is going to use it. If you’re building a sensory garden for someone with mobility problems, for example, you need to make sure that they can move around it easily. Think about how pathways are surfaced and try flatten any steep slopes. Make sure that the garden incorporates comfortable seating in a sheltered spot.

The Senses

A sensory garden may impact every sense, or concentrate on a couple. For visual impact, use contrasting colours to make each one stand out. As well as using plants, different colours and textures could be used in landscaping. For example, polished surfaces can be contrasted with natural stone. A well-designed water feature will create a multi-sensory experience with sunlight reflecting off the water, and the sound of a gurgling fountain.

Scents and sounds

Sweet-smelling and pungent plants in the garden will stimulate the sense of smell. There could be a mixture of scents throughout the garden, or separate beds could be created for sweet scents and those that are more unusual. As far as sound goes, natural sounds such as birdsong and the hum of insects can bring a garden to life. You can install nesting boxes and feeders, and use plants that encourage insects. Natural sounds may be enhanced using wind chimes and, again, a water feature will add to the peaceful atmosphere.

Taste and Touch

Growing your own produce is always rewarding. You could grow plants that can be tasted on the spot, or cooked later. Try and dedicate a space in the garden for edible plants using raised beds or planters to make sure the plants that are edible are separated from those that are not. Don’t forget to include tactile elements in the garden. Plant grasses close to paths so that visitors can run their hands through them. Use rough and smooth surfaces in the landscaping to add different textures.

A well-designed sensory garden will be a joy for everyone, not only the young, the old and those with disabilities. A garden that stimulates the senses would be a great addition to anyone’s backyard.