A sensory garden is just how it sounds – a garden to stimulate the senses. These gardens can vary considerably in size, varying from a full large garden to a small area of a garden. However, whatever the size, all sensory gardens are alike in that they immerse young minds in their senses. Ranging from different textures to touch, scents to breath in, or colors to gaze at, these gardens can be beneficial for a range of requirements, using a variety of sensory garden equipment.
Why Sensory Gardens are Beneficial
Children with sensory issues or learning difficulties can benefit greatly from a sensory garden. This type of environment can be extremely therapeutic and act as a calming and safe escape for children to explore their environment and learn on their own accord without feeling too overwhelmed. Equally, for children that are particularly reserved, a sensory garden can help them to come out of their shell and explore. Sensory gardens can focus on all of the senses or can be tailored to a specific individual and target certain senses appropriately. Having a sensory environment that is outdoors helps to educate the senses in a way that is fun for children.
There are many ways of stimulating sight, and much of this can be done through various plants and flowers. Bright colors can be a great stimulation, and flowers such as sunflowers and marigolds are perfect for this. Additionally, introducing new and interesting textures is also a great stimulation to sight, with intricate barks and fluffy leaves being great for this. To really enhance their effect, you could create a ‘keyhole’ garden to immerse children in the plants. Shaped like a keyhole, this forms an intimate and enclosed space for children to sit and take in their surroundings.
Scents can have a huge impact on mood, and so choosing the right scents can really benefit young children who are enjoying the sensory garden. There are even plants that smell like things that will be familiar to children. For example, Helichrysum Italicum, which smells like curry. Or Cosmos Atrosanguineus, which smells like chocolate. Many other aromatic plants and herbs can also induce aromatherapy. Lavender is often associated with promoting relaxation, and including this in a sensory garden provides a purple color that is great for adding to stimulating visuals. When choosing the scents to feature in a garden, be aware of not overpowering the garden. It’s all about balance!
Gardens are a great place for children to experience various sounds. Rustling leaves, moving grasses, and trickling water can induce a sense of tranquillity in children. Introducing wind chimes is a great way of introducing some stimulating but still soothing sounds. Individuals can even create noises themselves through playing with these wind chimes or other natural objects within the garden.
Experimenting with Touch
There are so many exciting textures that you can experiment with in a sensory garden. The soft Stachys Byzantina, also known as Lamb’s ears, is soft to touch and loved by little hands. Equally, Moss can provide an alternative texture that is still soft to touch. Even stones and bark are interesting to touch with their abrasive and intricate textures.
Sensory Garden Equipment
Investing in sensory equipment that can be used in the garden is a great way of enhancing the sensory experience outdoors. Our Sensory Backpack Diamond is packed full of sensory products that can easily be carried into the garden. Having a range of products gives children the ability to choose what they would like to engage with, whilst targeting a variety of senses.
Sensory Garden Design
Depending on the size of your space, you can create different areas to make the garden even more exciting to little ones. A nice idea is to create a sensory pathway that travels through the different areas of the garden. Here, you can experiment with large stepping stones or bricks. Pathways should loop around instead of abruptly stopping – many children with sensory disorders benefit from having a good flow and direction. You can then create pockets and areas that children can explore, each with different sensory stimulations.