What Is a Therapeutic Garden?

Lumara Lee

A therapeutic garden is a facility established to treat specific physical and mental conditions by offering activities related to gardening. It can also be a garden designed to provide a calming environment for people experiencing stress or mental illness. Hospitals, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and senior centers are some of the places that often offer patients and their families the use of a therapeutic garden. Therapeutic facilities can either be geared toward a wide range of ages or target a specific age group. For example, a therapeutic garden located on the grounds of a regional hospital might be designed to offer an environment helpful in the treatment of various conditions for people of different ages and different states of health.

A therapeutic garden is a calming environment.
A therapeutic garden is a calming environment.

On the other hand, a therapeutic garden designed for children will offer more options for play, while a garden set up at a senior center might provide a therapeutic program developed to aid healthy seniors as well as people with age-related limitations. Some therapeutic gardens are designed to help visitors connect with nature and instill a feeling of peace. This type of therapeutic garden can be seen at some hospitals, giving anxious family members a calming environment to visit while awaiting word about a loved one.

A fountain in a therapeutic garden.
A fountain in a therapeutic garden.

A good therapeutic garden design will offer a variety of attractive and interesting focal points for visitors to enjoy. Fountains, garden ponds, and other water features can help distract worried people from their problems. Flowers, statues, and garden decorations provide focus and a calming influence. Placing benches in groupings or situating one in a solitary spot will give people the option for quiet reflection or group discussion in a tranquil setting.

Studies have shown that horticultural therapy provides numerous benefits. People with access to a therapeutic garden can recover from illness more quickly. Gardening provides a gentle form of exercise, improves memory, and can help restore strength and coordination when utilized as a form of physical therapy.

A therapeutic garden program can help people in vocational therapy learn how to follow directions as they learn gardening skills they may be able to utilize in future employment. It offers sensory stimulation and an opportunity to socialize. Tending plants and watching them grow and thrive can give someone a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Having access to this type of healing environment can nurture a person’s spirit and emotions and help restore a sense of balance.

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