We all know that the lush landscape can help us feel better but it has actually been proven as a scientific fact. Using landscape in care facilities such as hospitals, wellness centers, and others has proved to be very effective when it comes to patients’ and clients’ wellness and healing.
The lovely mix of tranquility, shade, greenery and occasional flowers is a chance to reconnect with nature – patients in hospitals and clients in wellness centers appreciate well-tended grounds and green space.
The effects of a therapeutic landscape
The purpose of a therapeutic landscape is to improve the health, comfort, and activity rate of those using it, as well as to help them manage stress levels. In any healthcare facility, one of the goals is to reduce feelings of anger, anxiety, and stress, so as to speed up the healing process and improve their wellbeing.
The very acts of being surrounded by a therapeutic landscape and admiring it lower blood pressure, heart rate, relax muscles and decreases the feelings of physical pain, as well as aggression and other negative feelings. As a result, people heal faster, whatever their ailment is, and start feeling calmer and more satisfied. This is why many healthcare facilities pay close attention to landscape design and always look for novelties.
Greenery as the predominant feature
Lush, green plants are the most important element of a therapeutic landscape. The effect of color green on our state of mind is highly beneficial – it relaxes us and decreases our stress levels.
Moreover, greenery comes in many shapes and sizes, allowing you to create levels within the garden. Fast-growing trees will provide shade and privacy, bushes will create focal points around the garden while grass will temper the whole picture with its gentle look.
Comfort at all times
A therapeutic garden needs to provide comfort, both physical and emotional. In other words, it’s necessary to obtain comfortable temperature in it, to have both sun and shaded areas inside of it, to make it protected from the wind and the outside noise. And of course, to provide comfortable sitting features, for example, benches, soft chairs or even allow clients to sit on the grass. In essence, feeling comfortable means not being interrupted by outside factors, and that is what a therapeutic garden should provide.
The user is in the focus
First of all, it’s necessary to identify who the users will be – maybe the majority of them are people with stressful jobs, the elderly, the kids or perhaps it’s a lot of different people. It’s also important to listen to the actual users and their needs and wishes, as well as professionals like horticultural therapists and commercial landscaping experts. They will be able to provide you with the perfect type of design suitable for your clients’ needs and appropriate for the facility and its spatial features. There is always the right type of garden for the particular population using it.
The advantage of growing native plants inside a garden is that they are less susceptible to pests and diseases, and very resilient. They are also easier to maintain and they grow pretty quickly.
What’s also great is that they attract local wildlife, which is another factor contributing to the healing effect of the therapeutic garden. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds will start visiting the garden, decorating the place and delighting the users. Never underestimate the power of the beauty of wildlife surrounding us.
Engaging the senses
The users of the therapeutic garden should use all of their senses in order for the garden to be completely therapeutical. They need to be able to touch, smell and hear various comforting, natural sounds. For example, planting ornamental grasses will allow them to produce a gentle rustle every time there’s a gentle breeze. Fuzzy lamb’s ear plants are wonderful to touch, reminding the users of petting cute kittens. Planting lavender will have a calming, relaxing effect on the users, as its smell tends to have that effect on people.
A garden that provides true wellness is a garden thatćs free of chemicals. There should also be no toxic plants so that the users feel free to touch everything around them. The easiest way to have an organic garden is to don’t do much, namely don’t add any chemical products. It is also environmentally friendly, and people will be able to smell, touch and even consume plants surrounding them without fear.
Almost any garden is complete without a water feature. Depending on the size and characteristics of the space used for the therapeutic garden, you will decide whether to install a fountain or perhaps create a pond. Water has a calming effect on us when we look at it, whether it’s flowing or if it’s just a still surface that reflects the surroundings. Also, the sounds of water ease our minds and can even put us into a meditative state.
Safe and accessible walkways
Paths can be creatively used to create a sense of mystery, leading the user around the garden and allowing them to explore the garden one step at a time. The paths should be wide enough for people walking in pairs or even for wheelchairs. Make sure they are smooth and slip-resistant. The benches you will place along the paths should be easy to get in and out of.
Therapeutic landscape design offers many possibilities and benefits for the users, as well as the staff. Its positive effect on people is too strong to be ignored, so every wellness center, hospital or rehabilitation center should include a therapeutic garden into their facilities. Reconnecting with nature is and always will be a path to healing and overall wellbeing.