Designed to stimulate all five senses, sensory gardens are often used for healing and meditative purposes. Include plants with contrasting flowers, colors, and blooming habits, as well as those with leaves of different shapes, sizes and textures.
Add curved beds of ferns, ornamental grasses, and hydrangeas with blousy heads for visual interest. Choose plants that generate pleasant sensations when touched and those that rustle in the wind.
For visual stimulation, choose plants that offer a variety of heights, shapes and textures. Ornamental grasses like pampas grass (Cortaderia) add contrasting color and movement, while Persian shields (Strobilanthes dyerianus) and fan plant (Begonia rex) feature interesting leaf architecture. Incorporate a pond or fountain into your sensory garden to create flowing motion and calming sounds that soothe the eye.
A sensory garden should also include plant species that produce different bloom, stem, bark and leaf colors. This will help create interest for the senses even when some plants are dormant in winter. A variety of textures can be achieved through the use of hardscaping, as well. Smooth and textured stones, gravel, wood chips, and flagstones can all be used to create a variety of visual sensations for the senses.
Whether you’re looking to create a sensory garden for yourself, your children, or a loved one with special needs, Sponzilli Landscape Group can help. Our experience with detailed design projects, community gardens and sensory spaces makes us uniquely qualified to bring your vision to life. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
Sensory landscapes use plant varieties and hardscape elements that evoke the senses of taste, smell, touch, and hearing. For example, fragrant native plants like honeysuckle and foxglove attract pollinators that cover scent and sound; ornamental grasses with seed heads like quaking grass add interest to the visual landscape; and herbs such as lavender, mint, and rosemary provide both olfactory and tactile experiences with their soft leaves or subtle perfumes.
A sensory garden should also include a variety of textures, which help to ground visitors and orient them in the environment. Soft flowers, fuzzy leaves, rough bark, prickly seed pods, and springy moss all provide different tactile sensations. Areas where people can walk barefoot, such as on a moss lawn, enhance this experience.
Sensory landscapes are a great way to celebrate, educate, and rekindle our relationships with nature, especially in these challenging times. They can be enjoyed by anyone who is looking for a relaxing, exploratory place to reconnect with the natural world. A consultation with a professional landscape designer will ensure that your sensory garden is perfectly suited to your environment, goals and needs.
As part of the multi-sensory experience, sensory landscape designs incorporate plants that produce varying textures to stimulate the sense of touch. For example, the soft furry leaves of Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina), feathery ornamental grasses and spongy mosses are soothing to the touch. Plants with contrasting hardscape surfaces like stepping stones, gravel and brick also offer a range of textures.
Plants that release scent through their leaves and stems stimulate the sense of smell. Depending on the species and variety, scented plants can trigger emotions from awe to relaxation. Aromatic herbs and fragrant flowers are especially calming.
As a final note, it’s important to remember that sensory features should elevate the user experience, not overwhelm it. Adding too many elements can actually be distracting and lead to confusion. That’s why it’s essential to work with a landscaping pro who has the knowledge, expertise and vision to create a balanced sensory landscape that isn’t over-stimulating. That way, it can be a space that is enjoyable for everyone, including those with Sensory Processing Disorder.
The texture of leaves, flowers and moss provides an important sensory experience in your garden. Soft blooms, fuzzy or rough bark and prickly seed pods can all stimulate your guests’ touch. Including areas where they can walk barefoot on grass or a moss lawn will add to the effect.
Whether you design separate zones to stimulate each of the five senses or use a multisensory mix, your goal is to create an immersive outside space that works wonders for our health. Using plants that offer visual, sound, taste and touch stimulation can have profound benefits for people of all ages and abilities.
To please the taste buds, grow a garden filled with fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, chili peppers, berries, apples, or herbs such as basil, mint and parsley. Native plants are the ultimate botanical multitaskers; their showy flowers attract pollinators, and they emit intoxicating fragrances. Avoid herbicides, which not only harm the pollinators but also can permeate your garden’s air with toxins. Instead, opt for organic pest control methods. They’re safe for you, your family and the pollinators you attract to your garden.
A sensory garden can be stimulating for the nose, eyes, ears and hands. It’s a place where you can experience the pleasure of walking in puddles barefoot, smelling the fragrant scent of fresh basil or grazing your hand over the soft leaves of a lamb’s ear.
Plants with interesting textures add visual interest to the sense of touch, as do hardscape materials and special features like a sand pit or water wall. Running your hand over the smooth surface of a stone wall, feeling the rough texture of tree bark or exploring the spiky thorns of a cactus are tactile experiences that reconnect you with nature.
A good choice for touching is lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina), which has velvety silvery leaves and produces white or purple flowers in summer. Ornamental grasses with unique architectural seed heads and plants with textured foliage, such as Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus), are also eye-catching additions to any landscape. Adding a small pond or fountain provides soothing sounds of water that will soothe and relax. Adding wildlife will provide additional natural calming sounds of birds singing, crickets chirping and frogs croaking.
Final Thoughts – Talk to a Landscaping Company
We are experts in installing new landscaping, renovating landscapes, outdoor lighting, and irrigation installation systems. Whatever your project is to make your outdoor look amazing, we can help you. Give us a quick call so we can talk more about your next outdoor project.