You may already have a garden for growing your own healthy food, but have you ever thought about designing a garden with experience in mind?
Creating a sensory garden is a way to enjoy your garden for more than just growing food! Designing a sensory garden is about being intentional about creating a space that meets all 5 senses—sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste.
We want to offer you some tips for creating your own sensory garden!
Set goals for your garden.
Before you begin your garden, you’ll want to consider the goals of it.
Do you want the garden to be a place for your children or grandchildren to explore? Do you want people with wheelchairs or walkers to be able to enjoy it? Do you want your garden to primarily be a place for you to relax outside?
Your goals will guide your design!
Design your garden.
When beginning to plan design, revisit your goals for the garden.
If you’re hoping to use your sensory garden as a backyard getaway, you’ll want to include seating like a bench or picnic table. You might want to plant it in a portion of your yard that provides partial shade.
If you’d like to create an accessible garden, you’ll want to include a concrete or raised path safe for wheelchairs or those who have difficulty walking.
If you want to encourage children to play in the garden, you’ll want to include plants and other elements that are at a kid-friendly height.
After you’ve considered these goals, you’ll want to pick plants and more that meet all 5 senses—sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste.
When choosing which flowering plants to include in your sensory garden, be mindful of color! You’ll want to include a variation between bright pops of color and soft, restful colors.
Bright flower options include petunia, zinnias, and marigolds.
Flowers with peaceful colors like purple tones include catmint (bonus that they smell delicious) or hydrangea (these chameleon-style plants change flower color depending on the pH level of their soil).
Color doesn’t have to be limited to plants, either. You can bring in objects like bricks, wood, statues and sculptures, painted pots, or concrete mosaic to add additional color.
Choose aromatic plants to tickle the nose with sweet scents!
Some fragrant plant options include honeysuckle, violets, and chocolate cosmos.
Herbs are another great choice for appealing to smell—lavender, rosemary, and mint are all yummy additions to your sensory garden. You can also use these in your kitchen and home, cooking with rosemary and mint and adding beautiful lavender as decor. Dried lavender can last ages!
We love and recommend the book Ortho’s Guide to Herbs. It was published in 1997, but it can be bought inexpensively online, at bookstores or found at some libraries.
Add in sound-making elements to your sensory garden to create a sense of calm in your garden! Imagine the soft songs of birds, the gentle rustling of leaves, the peaceful gurgling of water…
Wind chimes, a water fountain, or a bird feeder to attract birds… there are so many creative ways to add sound to your sensory garden!
Choose plants and other materials with varied textures to invite your visitors to touch different elements of your garden!
Great plants for this include lamb’s ear, a wooly-like plant that is soft to the touch, or feather grass, coneflower, and borage. Baby’s breath is easy to grow, great for cuttings, and the small flowers have an interesting texture.
A small garden pond invites a touch of the cool water (just make sure there’s continual running of water to prevent static water that attracts mosquitoes). Smooth stones on the ground are soft options for bare feet walking through the garden.
An added bonus: varied texture also creates visual interest, too!
For taste, you can include herbs, vegetables, and fruit plants in your sensory garden. Snacking on fresh blackberries picked straight from your garden while you read a book and listen to the birds sing? What could be better than an afternoon spent in your sensory garden?
More Gardening Resources
When creating your sensory garden, don’t forget the other important gardening principles and practices! Here are a few helpful resources from the Stoney Creek Farm blog:
Our Favorite Gardening Hacks
Growing Your Own Herb Garden
Planning Your Summer Vegetable Garden (these tips apply to your sensory garden, too!)
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