A Guide to Designing Sensory Gardens

Sensory gardens are ideal for care homes, nursing homes and in our own gardens, community centres, nurseries, schools and development centres, designed to stimulate a multitude of senses and facilitate the mental and physical recovery of those that use it, providing a rich and exciting experience and have been known to provide a variety of significant positive benefits.

We are proud to offer our sensory garden designing service, covering all aspects of our senses.


Designing a Garden for the Senses

Sensory garden design | Sight


Sight is a very important sense to consider when designing any garden, but especially a sensory garden, as sight is such a powerful sense.

Sensory garden design | Smell


The scent of a well-maintained garden is wonderful and can be enjoyed year-round; the challenge is choosing what scented flowers and plants would be perfect for your sensory garden.

Sensory garden design | Sound


Sound in a sensory garden can be both exciting and calming and is especially important for visitors who are visually impaired.

Sensory garden design | Taste


Taste is often dismissed as a lesser important sense when thinking about a garden but it is extremely important in a sensory garden for those whose sight and sound senses are disabled.

Sensory garden design | Touch


Textured plants are a beautiful way to incorporate touch into your sensory garden and can ignite the senses in the simplest of ways.

In the Spotlight – Sensory Garden in Carnoustie

Gardens Galore has had the pleasure of working on a number of sensory gardens projects across Scotland; each project has been equally unique and individual.

We’ve chosen to highlight this sensory garden project as it brings together a variety of different elements that you’d expect to see in a sensory garden.

This sensory garden project was designed for the residents and their family and friends of the Braehill Lodge Nursing Home in Carnoustie. This particular nursing home caters for residents with dementia and sensory impairments. We spent a significant amount of time consulting with the nursing homeowner and the home’s residents to ensure that each individual’s needs were met.

We decided on a practical, user-friendly design that could be enjoyed individually as well as communally.

The garden provides a sensory-rich experience through a range of different elements, with an unusual water feature that provides a focal point for the garden and the softening sound of running water instils tranquillity and calmness.

Further elements in the garden encapsulate sight and smell through the planting of year-round flowers – alpines for spring, lilacs for summer, auburn trees for autumn and pampas grass for the colder months, as chosen by the nursing home residents. The resident’s noses can be satisfied by the flurry of scented flowers planted throughout the flowerbeds – roses, lavender and honeysuckle merge together to create a sweet yet subtle year-round smelling experience.

These combine together to create splashes of coordinated colour throughout the garden to blend in beautifully with the timber pergolas and curved walls of the raised planters.

The result is a wonderfully balanced sensory garden which provides an exciting experience through the senses. It brings the residents and their family and friends new positive experiences and encourages them as a community to think, feel and express themselves in new ways.

You can read the full case study for this sensory garden here.

Sensory garden guide | Case study
Sensory garden guide | Case study
Sensory garden guide | Case study
Sensory garden guide seating

Sensory Garden FAQs

Below are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to the design and landscaping of a sensory garden.

What should be avoided in a sensory garden?

It is important to consider that there are items that should be avoided when developing a sensory garden. The planning process of deciding what should and what should not be considered is dependent on those who will be utilising the garden. The below items should be avoided in most cases.

  • Avoid planting flowers and plants with thorns or berries that are poisonous to eat as these could potentially injure garden users.
  • If seating areas are being designed for the garden, ensure that there is a balance of areas that are shaded and in the sun.
  • Consider allergies; avoid flowers that are heavily pollinated for those with pollen allergies and avoid flowers that attract bees if necessary.
  • Ensure that paving and pathways are not a tripping hazard. Cobbles, pebbles and gravel should be avoided if garden users are unsteady on their feet or wheelchair-bound.
  • Avoid a cluttered, over planted garden

What are the benefits of a sensory garden?

Sensory gardens have a huge positive physical, mental and spiritual impact on those that use it. They can enlighten and renew the senses and often provoke positive emotions and memories.

These gardens also enhance each sense so for those whose senses are impaired and the garden can provide unreserved enjoyment.

What should you consider when designing a sensory garden?

The most important thing you should consider when you’re designing a sensory garden is your audience and making sure that each individuals specific needs are met. Secondly, it’s important to provide inclusive stimulation for a multitude of senses beyond the gardens static visual appeal.

Finally, it’s worth considering the usage of the garden, how often will it be attended to and what level of maintenance is preferred? The garden’s features, plants and structures can be chosen accordingly.

Are you exploring designing your own sensory garden?

The most important step is to get in touch with us for an initial chat about your sensory garden project. If you’re not sure about what services you need, don’t worry we’re here to help take you through the process! And remember, we cover Perthshire, Edinburgh, Dundee, Angus, and Fife.

sensory garden design

Have a look through our previous garden projects for inspiration and garden design ideas. Our Braehill Lodge Nursing Home and Bridge of Earn Care Home projects are both sensory gardens.

Have a think about what we’ll need from you – think budgets, timelines, garden requirements and so on.

Finally, get excited! This is a fantastic opportunity to design a beautiful and functional sensory garden, an experience to be enjoyed.

Give us a call on 01738 553 014 if you would like to discuss our sensory garden design service.