What’s a Sensory Backyard?

group of yellow flowers in a sensory garden

What’s a sensory backyard? A sensory backyard is an out of doors house with varied vegetation and different parts that stimulate, heighten, and interact your 5 senses — sight, sound, style, contact, and scent. 

Envision your self in a flourishing backyard – the aroma of mint fills the air as your naked toes crush the cool, tender leaves. To your left, you hear the effervescent water of a good looking white fountain and watch hummingbirds dart throughout pink, purple, and yellow blooms. 

As if in a trance, you pluck a tiny darkish purple and white pansy petal, pop it into your mouth, and marvel at its lettuce-like candy style. 

That may be a sensory backyard. On this article, we’ll present you the way sensory gardens activate all of our senses, and we’ll cowl the advantages of sensory gardens, too.

What’s in a Sensory Backyard?

A well-thought-out sensory backyard design ought to embrace interplay with the entire 5 senses alongside the best way. 

Mild winding footpaths with completely different supplies would information you to discover and benefit from the backyard’s ambiance. Alongside these paths must be well-placed benches with water options, offering alternatives for relaxation to absorb the surroundings and immerse your self within the sounds of the flowing fountain. 

Crops ought to encompass you with their vibrant colours, delectable scents, and alternatives to style wild edible berries. 

Different backyard areas would possibly spotlight “natural world” (referring to all vegetation and animals on Earth) utilizing the vegetation that entice hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies to pollinate and drink nectar. 

Chook feeders and birdbaths can be cleverly located so our feathered buddies can wash after which feast comfortably.

Sensory gardens characteristic colourful, aromatic, edible vegetation and different design parts like water options, wind chimes, and textured stones. 

Sensory gardens supply a singular expertise in which you’ll take within the sight, sound, contact, style, and smells that result in leisure and pleasure. These gardens intention to advertise mindfulness for everybody. 

These great out of doors areas additionally present therapeutic and academic alternatives for these with disabilities or psychological well being points, making them a great surroundings for socializing and remedy. 

Particular touches similar to dog-friendly options can add to the expertise of exploring the backyard.

“Design Intent” is what units a sensory backyard aside from different sorts of gardens. A sensory backyard ought to virtually really feel like you might be within the viewers watching a efficiency (lights, motion, digital camera) by Mom Nature.  

Listed here are some parts of a sensory backyard that may enchantment to every of the senses:

Backyard Elements That Activate the Senses

Gardens can supply an expertise for all 5 senses. Right here’s how:


Colourful vegetation of differing heights and ranging bloom occasions create visible year-round curiosity
Birdbaths, and chook feeders deliver completely different species of birds to your backyard
Particular vegetation draw butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and dragonflies
Wind spinners delight each the eyes and ears


Water fountains and water partitions
Ponds and lavatory gardens with water lilies entice frogs, crickets, cicadas
Wind chimes 


Aromatic vegetation
— Herbs
— Evergreen shrubs/timber
like pines


Crops with texture
Hardscaping parts like easy stones and benches which can be manufactured from wooden or granite/marble.
Grass that you would be able to stroll on barefoot
Misting machine in the summertime to chill guests and expertise a rain garden-type really feel


Edible flowers
Vegetable backyard
Fruit timber

Sense of Sight

Attractive blooms with various bloom occasions will create year-round curiosity, and native vegetation invite butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to attract close to. 

Flowering deciduous shrubs, perennials (vegetation that come again yr after yr, normally in late spring or early summer time), and decorative grasses supply completely different textures, colours, and “behavior” (plant form and the way they develop) for visible viewing pleasure. 

Geranium (Pelargoniums) and sunflowers give a superb pop of colour and have attention-grabbing textures.

When planted in a hierarchy emphasizing differing heights, tallest within the rear, middle-sized vegetation within the center, and smallest within the entrance, visible curiosity peaks much more. 

Birdbaths and chook feeders entice many species of birds. It’s enjoyable to look at them come and go. Chook fans would enjoyment of figuring out their favourite species.

Wind spinners can create a dynamic expertise that’s visually interesting, relying on how robust the wind blows.

Sense of Sound

Stress-free to the sounds of water has been confirmed to cut back stress and induce a way of serenity. Whether or not or not it’s a effervescent brook, flowing fountain, small pond, or water wall, immersing oneself in these pure calming sounds can profit psychological well-being.

A sensory backyard can turn into a full of life auditory expertise with the sounds of wildlife. In the course of the day, birds sing, crickets chirp, and at nightfall, cicadas create a refrain. 

When you’re fortunate sufficient to have a pond close by, frogs would possibly take part with their croaking tunes! Each species brings its personal distinctive sound to nature’s orchestra. 

Wind chimes can be utilized to create a relaxing ambiance out within the backyard. They create uplifting vitality, join us to nature and invoke optimistic feelings.

Feng shui practitioners, meditators, and sound therapists all respect the soothing high quality of wind chimes and their capacity to assist work via any lingering adverse feelings. 

Sense of Odor

Sensory gardens loaded with aromatic vegetation present a number of advantages for us. These vegetation create pleasing aromas, and a few possess therapeutic properties, making them a superb selection for these in search of an emotional and bodily increase.

Fennel, sage, gardenias, and different aromatic backyard favorites will be included in any sensory backyard design to create a really particular expertise that’s memorable, peaceable, and therapeutic.

Herbs supply a spread of tactile and olfactory experiences. Mint and bayberry, for instance, exude intoxicating fragrances when crushed between your fingers!

Have you ever ever taken a stroll within the woods and are available upon a grove of pine timber? Ahhh. The calming smells of pine can cut back stress and increase psychological well being. Pine timber have been utilized in sensory gardens for hundreds of years to assist create soothing and calming environments. 

Sense of Contact

The tactile sensation is essential in a sensory backyard. Gentle flowers, fuzzy leaves, tough bark, prickly seed pods, and springy moss present tactile experiences that assist “floor” guests of their surroundings. 

Areas the place you possibly can stroll barefoot, like on a moss garden, assist add to the expertise.

A misting machine alongside a backyard path would add delight and refreshment on a sizzling summer time day.

Incorporate a wide range of tactile vegetation into your sensory backyard! Furry lamb’s ear leaves, tall easy bamboo stems, plush vinca beneath your toes, and succulents with their thick and fleshy tissues create juxtaposition for an enchanted out of doors house. 

Hardscaping, or the non-living design factor of a backyard, is a crucial a part of constructing a sensory backyard. These would possibly embrace sitting, standing, and climbing areas that supply completely different textures to discover.

Moreover, sensory pathways could also be made with varied supplies like sand, flagstone, wooden chips, and even flat stepping stones with easy textures.

Sense of Style

Edible flowers is usually a enjoyable addition to sensory gardens! Whether or not you might be in search of colourful flowers or edible leaves and stems, there are many choices to select from. 

Nasturtiums, pansies, violets, hosta, borage, and calendula supply a wide range of flavors on your palate which can be steadily utilized in culinary dishes or teas. Echinacea, also called coneflower, has medicinal qualities when utilized in tea. 

Edible flowers present each visible magnificence and scrumptious style! 

Herbs additionally fall into a few sensory classes — the class of sense of style, scent, and texture 

The place would we be with out sensible basil for pesto sauce or tantalizing thyme on some rooster? Lavender, rosemary, mint, and sage are heavy hitters concerning taste. These are all glorious decisions for a sensory backyard. 

Bee balm gives a citrusy taste, and allium sports activities an onion taste.

However herbs are extra sensory than simply style. Basil additionally pleases the nostril, and brushing your hand over parsley flippantly tickles your fingers and palm. 

Including a vegetable patch and fruit timber to each sensory backyard is a unbelievable manner for you, your loved ones, and any guests to attach extra with nature. 

Relying in your area, apples, pears, lemons, oranges, tomatoes, and lettuce may all be a part of the patch or groves of fruit timber. This could enable guests to pattern completely different fruits and veggies from the sensory backyard.

What are the Advantages of a Sensory Backyard?

A sensory backyard has many advantages, from the sweetness they create to the ecological benefits they supply. Here’s a listing of a few of the advantages of a sensory backyard:

  • A singular house for gorgeous social gathering areas.
  • A unbelievable instrument for studying about native native vegetation, herbs, veggies, and fruit.
  • Assist promote mindfulness and meditation through a peaceable ambiance and pure setting. 
  • Excellent for offering habitats for native flora, fauna, and pollinators similar to butterflies and bees.
  • Supplies a chance to get out and benefit from the nice outdoor. 
  • Presents a pure pollinator-friendly habitat free from using pesticides, herbicides, and different poisonous chemical substances.
  • Will get children away from their screens, digital gadgets, and social media. Get them into the sunshine and contemporary air, serving to them decompress and discover nature.  
  • Supplies a relaxing ambiance and might supply therapeutic advantages.
  • Immerses you in a “multimodal” world to overlook about your life challenges for some time.
  • Aged individuals can have a pleasant stroll and get some train.
  • Being outdoor helps with sleep.

That will help you grasp the ideas of a few of the parts of a sensory backyard, listed here are some situations that you simply might need skilled your self with out ever stepping foot in a sensory backyard:

Have you ever ever skilled the tactile sensation of consuming a peach? Nothing can fairly evaluate to the expertise of sinking your enamel right into a juicy ripe peach. The tender and fuzzy pores and skin offers technique to the candy taste of the flesh, with virtually syrup-like juice dripping down your chin. 

Having fun with this scrumptious fruit is actually a sensory delight! It might remind you of your grandma’s kitchen as she baked a peach pie. 

Have you ever ever stepped right into a patch of mint barefoot? When you had, you’d delight within the intoxicating aroma of mint because it releases its scent when walked upon. It’s also possible to benefit from the soothing essence by crushing the fragrant herbs between your fingers. 

The aroma would possibly flood your thoughts with recollections of your aunt’s veggie and herb backyard. 

After it rains, do you ever really feel the urge to exit and stroll in puddles along with your naked toes? It’s a unbelievable feeling — chilly water washing in opposition to your pores and skin, the brisk clear air round you erasing all worries as you are taking a second to benefit from the freedom of being immersed in nature. 

Strolling within the puddles barefoot could remind you of childhood buddies.

Any of the above sensations will aid you respect the advantages of a sensory backyard, as you’ll encounter a few of the similar emotions. 

Who Would Profit From a Sensory Backyard?

That may be a nice query! Listed here are some individuals (you and others) who would profit from a sensory backyard:

  1. If you’re a home-owner with an empty yard house and need to entertain your 5 senses.
  2. You probably have youngsters and need to educate them concerning the 5 senses via an interactive surroundings particularly designed for that goal.
  3. You probably have aged dad and mom or grandparents you’d prefer to get outdoors as a result of they’re housebound. 
  4. If you already know somebody with disabilities who would simply take pleasure in a unprecedented immersion into the sensory world.
  5. You probably have a canine and a sufficiently big space in your property, this sort of backyard will present the fuzzy infants with a heightened sense of exploration, play, and leisure. 
  6. Lastly, you simply want a tranquil oasis to flee and ponder life’s subsequent strikes

Simply do not forget that should you dwell within the northern hemisphere, your sensory backyard will go dormant in the course of the winter months. Your perennials will disappear beneath the bottom. You’ll want to account for curiosity in the course of the winter months. A superb instance of a flower that blooms within the chilly is Helleborus (Christmas Rose) — this perennial reveals itself when all the opposite flowers are dormant.

FAQ About Sensory Gardens

How does a sensory backyard differ from different sorts of gardens?

There are such a lot of sorts of gardens, every designed with a distinct goal to attain a distinct end result. Whereas conventional gardens could usually deal with sight or scent, sensory gardens have been designed to stimulate all 5 senses — sight, scent, style, contact, and sound. 

Sensory gardens are characterised by together with vegetation of various shapes and colourful foliage, fragrant flowers, and different options like sculptures, paths, and water options to offer a multi-sensory expertise. 

Different gardens take a distinct method and deal with one sense, like imaginative and prescient, or intention to create a selected emotion in guests. There are simply too many sorts of gardens to listing, so I’ve highlighted just a few beneath: 

Formal gardens, just like the gardens of Versailles in France, are very visible, combining geometric patterns with meticulously manicured plant materials. Strolling barefoot within the grass or any manicured areas can be frowned upon as a result of the property house owners need this backyard to stay unblemished and pristine. 

The grounds of formal gardens are most likely chemically handled to stop weeds. 

“Look however don’t contact”: In contrast to sensory gardens, formal gardens aren’t for “viewers participation.”

Zen gardens are famend for being a spot for meditative reflection with thought-provoking patterns raked out within the sand to evoke one’s sense of mindfulness. In contrast to sensory gardens, they differ of their method to experiencing the tactile sense. 

It could be frowned upon should you impulsively threw your sneakers within the air, ran, jumped, and wiggled your toes in these superbly raked-out patterns within the sand — that means one of the simplest ways to take pleasure in Zen gardens (like formal gardens) is to look however not contact.

Butterfly gardens enchantment to butterflies’ senses to attract them close to. Plant materials is chosen rigorously with this goal in thoughts. To enchantment to the opposite senses, showcase vegetation with enticing colours, habits, textures, and smells. 

It’s a stunning and memorable expertise to have a butterfly simply land on you. I’ll always remember and all the time treasure that particular second when a butterfly landed on my finger. 

Container gardening is when vegetation are grown in containers as a result of house is restricted. Patios and balconies with solar publicity many of the day are nice for container gardening. You may select pots of various dimension, colour, texture, and form to create visible curiosity and configure them in keeping with the vegetation you’d like to put in.  

Plant materials will be chosen to enchantment to all 5 senses with the caveat that sure vegetation will do effectively in containers whereas others won’t thrive. Water gardens can be container gardens

Demonstration gardens are designed to be instructional and assist gardeners study extra about native vegetation and sustainable gardening methods. 

Water gardens, also called aquatic gardens, make the most of water vegetation and different water parts as the principle parts of their creation.

Water gardens mix stunning water vegetation similar to waterlilies and water iris with waterfowl and decorative fish. Water lilies entice frogs, and koi fish can be utilized to create an ecosystem inside the water backyard.

Do sensory gardens use pesticides and herbicides?

Everybody desires a protected and pleasant “multimodal” interplay with nature, so pesticides and herbicides have to be prevented fully within the sensory backyard, as they are often harmful and even poisonous. 

As an alternative, vegetation with non-toxic, non-allergenic qualities ought to naturally pollinate via the assistance of bugs solely. If any thorny vegetation like roses are included within the design, they need to be positioned out of attain of customers in the back of the beds. Younger youngsters ought to be capable to roam freely with out issues about being poisoned.

Would having a sensory backyard enhance your own home worth?

Sure and no. It’s all within the eyes of the potential purchaser and his or her opinion of your sensory backyard. 

If the potential purchaser appreciates stunning vegetation and well-tended out of doors areas, having a sensory backyard could make your own home extra interesting. It could possibly be considered as proof that the property is liked and cherished. The would-be purchaser even could make the next supply as a result of they respect the sweetness and advantages a sensory backyard brings.

Nonetheless, even when the backyard is a botanical delight to all of the senses, has been meticulously detailed, and resembles the gardens of Versailles in France, it might not matter. If the potential purchaser doesn’t take pleasure in gardening and sees the sensory backyard as simply one other chore, it gained’t enhance your own home’s worth. 

Are there any risks to a sensory backyard?

Sure, and we’ve listed a few of these beneath:

Bronchial asthma, allergy symptoms, and hay fever 

When you endure from allergy symptoms or bronchial asthma, a sensory backyard may cause your signs to worsen as a result of pollen rely. 

Because the climate will get hotter and brighter in springtime, out of doors actions turn into extra inviting. Nonetheless, it’s important to issue within the potential triggers of your allergy symptoms when planning an out of doors tour.

Wind-pollinated vegetation like grasses, weeds, and sure timber can contribute to allergy symptoms and bronchial asthma. It’s because they use the wind to unfold pollen from plant to plant and sometimes bloom throughout springtime. 

These kinds of sunshine pollens can journey far distances relying on the prevailing winds or different exterior components, so it might be greatest to keep away from or restrict together with them in a sensory backyard.

To fight this, sensory gardens will be designed with allergen-free vegetation to assist cut back pollen ranges and supply a protected surroundings for these with allergy symptoms and bronchial asthma.


Sensory gardens are an effective way to get nearer to nature and benefit from the outdoor, however bee stings is usually a potential hazard. House therapy is normally sufficient to alleviate the ache and discomfort should you’re stung by a bee. 

Nonetheless, emergency medical consideration could also be essential to deal with anaphylaxis if it’s extra extreme and also you’re allergic or have been stung a number of occasions.

What’s anaphylaxis? Anaphylaxis is a extreme and probably life-threatening allergic response that may happen after being stung by a bee or different insect. Signs of anaphylaxis can seem quickly inside minutes of being stung and embrace: 

● Swollen lips
● Issue respiration with throat closing
● Hives, itching
● Flushed or pale pores and skin
● Dizziness and/or fainting
● Stomach cramps and nausea
● Lack of consciousness

If left untreated, anaphylaxis will be deadly, so search pressing medical consideration should you endure from any of those signs after being stung by an insect. 

Sensory Processing Dysfunction 

Somebody with Sensory Processing Dysfunction (SPD) could have problem managing the knowledge she or he receives from their senses. Relying on the person, this could possibly be oversensitivity or underneath sensitivity to sure sounds, tactile sensations, tastes, sights, and smells. 

As such, it’s suggested that individuals with SPD not be uncovered to sensory gardens because the heightened quantity of stimulation could also be too overwhelming for them.

Rent a Landscaping Professional to Create Your Sensory Backyard 

If you wish to create a “multimodal immersive expertise” in your yard and don’t know the best way to start, contact an area landscaping professional. She or he has the data, experience, and imaginative and prescient to execute your undertaking primarily based in your location, funds, and web site situations.

Major Picture Credit score: Bryce Walker / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Harley Grandone

Harley Grandone

Harley Grandone, a author and panorama designer, enjoys writing blogs for Lawnstarter. After 20+ years of being a panorama designer, she’s delighted to have the ability to mix her love of writing together with her love of the business. When not writing, she spends her free time on her sailboat, studying affiliate internet marketing, and having enjoyable together with her household within the Philadelphia suburbs.

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