Feeling overwhelmed, disconnected from yourself and in need of relief? Look no further than garden therapy. We turn to the grounding properties of nature through the garden. Explore how you can create a healing space with this guide to garden design and self-care.
Enter the world of garden therapy and wellness
In a rushed world driven by technology, we often experience over-stimulation. This altogether causes great discomfort for the senses and wellbeing. And this is especially true of those with special needs. Garden therapy can truly be an answer for anyone. We’ve explained how plants aid in relaxation and also ways to explore your creativity with soothing DIY products from your backyard. In this guide, we share how gardening has healing effects, top plant choices, plus design ideas to create the optimum garden.
Get the most out of garden therapy
Gardening is oh-so much more than just planting, maintaining and reaping the harvest. Aside from the well-known uses of a garden (growing a flower bed or a crop of produce), it allows for a genuine connection to the earth, nature and the self. Enter therapeutic gardens. These include sensory gardens (creating an oasis for experiencing fragrance, texture, sound and taste) and habilitation gardens (this is to attain, keep or improve certain abilities, which is different from rehabilitation, which is to regain abilities).
With simple activities like scooping up the soil, weeding, yoga on the grass, stopping to watch a bird or smell an aromatic plant — gardens provide a safe space to pause and get back to basics. Whether the user is an adult, a child, able-bodied or differently-abled, the benefits are available to all.
Garden therapy assists in promoting:
- Sensory stimulation
- Improving mood
- Hand-eye coordination
- Developing fine motor skills
Garden therapy also reduces:
- Stress and blood pressure
- Anger, anxiety, depression and sadness
Another great aspect about tending to a garden? It reverses the role for someone reliant on a caretaker — and this is a truly empowering experience. Taking on the responsibility of a garden or just a plant on its own boosts morale and confidence, instilling a sense of independence.
Plants with purpose and peace
When choosing your plants, creating a carefully curated garden starts with colour and scent. Fragrant plants include jasmine, gardenia, frangipani, lavender, calendula, sage, and rosemary as well as roses. These plants do well when sectioned separately for a controlled scented
Steps to creating a therapeutic garden
First, consider the needs of the user and the goals of the garden. Gardens will look very different for unique needs, so be sure to decide the purpose and function.
Once those have been outlined, work towards making it accessible for those using or visiting it, like those with:
Consider planting herbs, vegetables and scented flowers to evoke memories from the past. This is not only comforting and pleasing but assists in reducing agitation. Also, design continuous pathways and avoid dead-ends, as they can cause frustration.
Create a well-organised space and focus on a design that reduces simulation.
Cane, walkers and wheelchair users
Use raised beds or container planting, to elevate and work at the level needed by the user. Create smooth and even surfaces without sharp turns. Avoid large stretches of lawns that can get tangled with walking sticks, as well as hard-to-navigate gravel for the frail.
Add chimes or bells to enhance the garden experience, as well as handrails to assist in guiding visitors. Opt for a fountain or a birdbath instead of a pond.
Get grounded in your garden
A wonderful way to work towards a calmer mental state and aid in healing? Grounding. For those overwhelmed by a whizzing world and turbulent thoughts, or recovering from something as extreme as cancer, grounding provides an enriching experience. Also called earthing, grounding is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that electrically reconnect you to the earth.
This simple but effective exercise requires you to be present in your garden space, preferably barefoot. During this time, focus on the little things — smelling the flowers, sensing the breeze, breathing deeply and connecting with the earth. For some, it’s a form of meditation.
So, go ahead — hug a tree, walk barefoot in the grass, comb your hand through the grass and let the space reset your body and mind.
Heal with horticulture
However you decide to engage in garden therapy, we hope it brings you and your visitors a welcoming experience. Have more gardening questions? Contact our garden experts for advice, tips and tricks.