19 May 2021
How to Create a Sensory Garden
A sensory garden is quite a simple concept at heart. It’s a space that features different textures, colours, shapes, scents and heights. These are used to help stimulate all of our senses and bring us to the present moment. There is evidence to suggest that this kind of outdoor space reduces our anxiety and stress levels. As well as encouraging mindfulness - therefore improving our overall wellbeing.
Paths & Paving
The garden paving is a key element in adding to the sensory experience. Creating paths around the garden and setting up routes promote a sense of discovery and orientation which helps stimulate the brain. Winding pathways are often seen in zen gardens and for good reason. The twisting paths ensure we focus on what's in front of us and demands us to be in that moment in time. Try adding interesting plants and textures like tall ornamental grasses and bamboo to brush past or use trellis to create tunnels of colourful and scentful flowers to go under.
Try using materials like crazy paving and rough-cut flagstones to create patterns. Using different and contrasting textures and colours such as brick pavers with porcelain will add to the effect. Adding in Stepping stones is also a great way to add interest and demand focussed attention. A must for kids and adults alike! Lastly, use a patio circle to designate an area of the garden, this will zone the area while adding further interest and shape, offering a given space to sit and relax in.
Using layers of plants and planting at different heights is one way to introduce elements of a sensory garden. As is choosing plants with different fragrances and, of course, that are varied in colour. Try lavender, basil and thyme which all heighten the sense of smell and can be used for medicinal purposes as well as in the kitchen to create tasty drinks and meals. Grasses and trees introduce both height and movement to your garden and encourage different wildlife.
Plant colourful wildflowers that attract pollinators like bees, butterflies and other insects to help bring your outdoor space to life. Try placing a wildlife table somewhere in view, or make your own using an empty container. The buzz of wildlife is a great way to stay present and offers opportunities for new sights and sounds in the garden.
Introducing another element such as running water in the form of a small fountain creates the visuals of movement and a calming sound. Running water can be highly relaxing and mediative. Water features offer a focal point in the garden where you can place a bench to reap the full benefits. They will also encourage birds to bathe and drink, filling the garden with birdsong and encouraging breeding pairs.
Make it Comfortable
The sensory garden also needs to be a comfortable and inviting space. Investing in new patio furniture like a sofa, offer a place in which to sit and observe the senses. Using textiles in different colours and textures can create a vibrant and cozy space. Try adding a patio heater or firepit as a garden feature to allow you to make the most of your outdoor space long into the evenings and cooler months of the year. Watching the flames, feeling the heat and smelling the burning logs can really create a feast for the senses.
Sensory gardens offer a relaxing and mindful opportunity to keep the area tidy by weeding the plants, brushing the pathways, and keeping water features maintained. You may be surprised to learn that gardening and carrying out DIY, can be very good for your health. DIY Week recently shared research from Drapers Tools, which revealed that homeowners burn over 80,000 calories a year by gardening and doing DIY at their properties. Try the following activity to connect your senses:
Find somewhere comfortable in your garden to sit, take a deep breath in and try naming the following: