The evidence that nature is healing has become so compelling that hospitals all over the world are creating healing gardens; relaxing outdoor spaces that are designed to promote healing in patients.
Healing gardens in hospitals are a relatively recent innovation, but they are rapidly catching on. The benefits have been shown to extend across the range of different patient types, from very young children to older adults. While green spaces in themselves don’t cure disease, they can help with recovery from surgery and boost general wellbeing in patients, which in turn helps them respond better to other treatments.
Healing gardens aren’t just for the hospital setting. You can create a therapeutic garden in just about any environment and they are particularly useful for childcare centres, schools and community centres.
Here are a few suggestions to help you create an outdoor area with healing properties:
- Take a multisensory approach. The best healing gardens appeal to all the senses. Think about soft sounds, smells and plants and displays that can be touched and interacted with. Avoid anything too overwhelming or strong smelling.
- Encourage interaction by creating spaces for sitting. Chairs that can be moved around work well as they allow for more flexibility and the option to sit in different locations.
- Create private areas for people to sit. Patients and families in a hospital setting may want privacy so it’s a good idea to create a few secluded spots away from prying eyes.
- Keep things interesting. Choose a mixture of different plants, and combine mature trees with younger plants to create a varied and stimulating garden.
- Make it green. Plants and greenery should take up around 70% of the space in your garden, while pavers, plazas and walkways should be no more than 30%.
- Be accessible. Ensure your garden is accessible for wheelchairs, and people with limited mobility.
Creating a therapeutic garden is a great way to provide healthcare patients, and the local community with a healing space to relax and rejuvenate.