How to build a sensory garden | Real estate
Now, according to Zillow’s 2024 Home Trends Forecast, sensory gardens are the hot new trend in home landscaping.
Zillow’s annual trend report shows that homeowners and homebuyers are looking for functional and aesthetic outdoor spaces that provide a peaceful, natural escape. According to the report, listings mentioning sensory gardens or pathways are up 314% compared to last year.
If you’re looking to improve your outdoor experience or make your garden more attractive to future buyers, follow these three steps to create a relaxing sensory garden.
What is a sensory garden?
A sensory garden is an outdoor space designed to engage the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. This is achieved by growing different varieties of plants, fruits or vegetables to provide different textures, colours, smells, tastes and sounds throughout the year. Space is not only defined by plants. Additional elements such as gravel, mulch, or stone paths and water features can provide additional sensory stimulation.
With a sensory garden, the appearance of the garden is important, but the other senses have equal weight in designing the space. “Sensory gardens are carefully designed to create a sense of interaction with nature that is more immersive than a normal stroll through a park,” says Tom So, a sustainable landscape designer from Australia.
Sensory gardens are gaining appeal in home settings because they tap into our innate need to connect with nature, Su says. “In our fast-paced digital world, these parks provide an escape and a place to de-stress and de-stress ourselves,” he says.
Studies have shown that spending time in sensory gardens promotes relaxation, reduces symptoms of depression, and improves overall health.
3 steps to build a sensory garden at home
1. Choose the right items for each sense
The first step in creating a sensory garden is choosing the right elements to appeal to all the senses. It is important to choose plants based on your growing zone. You want to incorporate plants that can thrive in your climate with minimal inputs; Doing so will provide you with maximum year-round enjoyment in the garden.
Start researching online to find out which plants grow best in your area or visit your local gardening store. Once you have an idea of the plants that should thrive in your garden, write down your favorite varieties. This can include grasses, herbs, ornamentals, flowers, fruits or vegetables. Group plants by their corresponding sensory category. Some may appeal to multiple senses, which is great. Ultimately, the goal is to have a fairly equal number of plants for each sense.
Sue says he likes to get creative with textures and scents when creating a sensory garden. “In terms of touch, plants like lamb’s ear, with their soft, fuzzy leaves, are wonderful. I’ll mix them with the rough bark of the river birch for contrast.”
Other great-to-touch varieties can be Mimosa pudica — also called delicate plant, because its leaves will bend when touched — the smooth-leaved pandanus or sage, which has fuzzy leaves and a lovely fragrant scent.
Try planting flowers with soft petals or leaves, spiky evergreens, or feathery flowers.
“For scent, nothing beats the sharp, refreshing scent of lavender or the sharp, refreshing scent of mint,” Su says. There are lots of highly scented flowers and herbs such as roses, jasmine, rosemary, magnolia, sweet pea and gardenia.
Sight is one of the easier senses to appeal to. Choose flowers and fruits with vibrant colors. Think marigolds, irises, ornamental cabbage, deep purple sage, bright tulips, roses, or the soothing color or green of ornamental grasses. Herbs are the easiest way to engage the taste, but you can add edible fruits or vegetables to the space for more functionality and productivity.
Sound can be a challenge, but mixing things like bamboo, grasses, or pollinated flowers in the garden helps bring out the subtle sounds of wind or bring bumblebees into a space. Pebbles, wind chimes, and birdhouses can also create different auditory sensations. “I also like to include elements like water features to get that gentle, soothing mist,” says Sue.
2. Choose a layout
Next, you’ll need to define your space by creating a plan for your sensory garden. You can incorporate each of the elements throughout the garden at once, or you can create different sensory zones that cater to each sense individually.
At Wickham Park in Manchester, Connecticut, director emeritus Jeff Marron has created a space for every sense in the 250-acre park. “We have a room or space dedicated to each of the five senses and a space for the sixth sense, which for us is imagination,” says Maron. “Plants and other elements, such as statues, were chosen to each have a separate meaning.”
This is great if you have a lot of space available for designing. However, most home sensory gardens are done on a smaller scale. Get your area’s measurements and determine how much space each plant needs as you plan your space.
Remember to add specific elements such as paths, shade trees, benches or water features to your garden layout. Many people don’t think about including lighting, which provides ambiance and a sense of security, and incorporating overhead structures to provide quiet shelter and shade, says Jennifer Hyman, founder and landscape designer with JHDG in Ontario, Canada.
3. Make your plan a reality
The final step is to put your sensory garden plan into action. Buy necessary items, plants and other items and let the farming process begin.
Don’t be afraid to expand your garden in the future or replace plants during the changing seasons to allow for year-round enjoyment.
Sensory gardens don’t have to be huge to be effective. Having a small space carefully designed to stimulate your senses can create a peaceful haven.
(Tags for translation) Liz Brummer Smith