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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Friday, February 24, 2012

What is a Sensory Garden?

               Sensory gardens can be designed to serve many functions from teaching, socializing, healing, and therapy.  The best designs can blend all the senses together but the different senses can be focused on in individual areas.  The sensory garden focuses on one of the five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.  Designs can be both stimulate and help relax at the same time.  These gardens appeal to people with an impairment of one or more senses. 
Design Considerations:
·        Hardscape:
o   Raise planters to provide access to plants.
o   Think about materials you are using for walls, walkways, and seating
§  Smooth materials such as thermal cut stone, metal, and sanded wood.
§  Rough materials such as tree bark, rough stone, and tumble brick.
o   Signage in a sensory garden is a key feature.
§  Signs of plant characteristics and uses will encourage interaction.
§  If designing for the visually impaired consider Braille signage.
·        Plant Selections
o   As with any planting design choose plants that work well in your zone and the microclimate that the garden is in.
o   Avoiding plants that require a lot of pesticides or chemical upkeep as well as plants that are poisonous or can cause severe allergic reactions.
o   Many plants can provide multiple sensory experiences
§  Tomatoes provide touch with their hair leaves, smell from their foliage, and taste from their fruit.
o   Think about themes in your planting design
§  Design a grouping that are all plants used for medicinal purposes
§  Design a grouping that provides spices in another area of the world
·        Sight
o   Sight is by far the most important sense to the human species and because of this it is the most important in the garden as well.  Play with this sense by providing different colors, textures, movements, form, light, and shadow. 
o   Even people with severe visual impairment can perceive “blobs” of color, light, and shadow.
·        Sound
o   Sound is an important element in the design of a sensory garden.  Sound is a very important if you are visually impaired.  A sensory garden should play on this sense.
o   Plants rustle in the wind, wind chimes ring, birds chirp, include water, and gravel crunches under foot.
·        Smell
o   Smell is a very emotional and associative sense.  We remember smells throughout our lives.
o   Smell is another sense that is good for the visually impaired. 
o   Many edible plants have strong scents.
o   Place fragrant plants next to walkways and seating areas for the biggest effect.
·        Touch
o   Touch is an important sense but needs to be carefully regulated in the sensory garden. 
o   Plants with thorns should be avoided or placed where they cannot be touched.
o   Plants that are going to be handled should be chosen with their robustness in mind.
o   Think about soft flowers, rough tree bark, slick leaves, and sticky sap.
o   A lawn appeals to many senses including touch.  Provide an area for a visitor to lay down and enjoy the touch and the smell of a lawn. 
·        Taste
o   Taste is another sense that a designer need to carefully regulate.  Be careful to not provide plants for tasting that could be poisonous or cause a severe allergic reaction.
o   When planting a garden for tasting be sure to provide enough to ensure everyone has a chance to taste.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net.

-Matt Bradley

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