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Sensory garden ideas
by
Checkatrade

Sensory garden designs and ideas

When it comes to sensory garden ideas, the clue is in the name. It’s all about creating an environment that engages and stimulates the five senses: touch, sight, sound, taste and smell. The aim is to connect with nature as much as possible and reap the benefits of the great outdoors.

This type of garden caters well to those on the autism spectrum or those with dementia. However, everyone can benefit from these gorgeous garden designs while staying mindful in the process.

Let’s take a look at some inspiring ideas below.

Sensory garden ideas autism

Sensory garden ideas for autism

This amazing installation engages both the touch and sight senses. The various textures offer great opportunities to touch, while the pleasing design is easy on the eye. Pastel blue is a calming colour, while the rockeries and smooth concrete structures sitting atop the sand make this an interesting and fun play area.

Sensory garden ideas for dementia

Sensory garden ideas for dementia

Rocks aren’t just nice to look at, they’re also versatile and easy to incorporate in any garden idea. By arranging them in varying patterns, they add interest and offer different textures. This grid path has a distinct design in each section, which leads the explorer onto the next area in a fun exploration of the senses.

Sand pit ideas for sensory garden

Sand pit ideas for sensory garden

Sand is a fun, safe, easy and versatile material that works well in most playgrounds and sensory gardens. SEN practitioners use sand as a tool for teaching, which is why safety-approved toys and tools are added to help encourage learning and play. Better yet, they’re easy to install and maintain!

Sensory garden ideas for schools

Sensory garden ideas for schools

Being grounded in nature often requires bare feet. That’s why softer materials like chalk stones, wood chips, rubber tiles, and artificial grass are great for introducing texture into your sensory garden. Why not create paths that encourage engagement and exploration? Keeping the ground soft underfoot is a perfect way to ensure a calm environment.

Sensory garden plants ideas

Sensory garden plants ideas

When it comes to sensory plants, the key is to ignite our sense of smell. Plants are multi-purpose botanicals that can invigorate, calm, entice, and restore us. Consider creating zones that offer plants you can touch, plants you can learn from (such as herbs and wildflowers), and plants that are fragrant and inviting.

Play rock abacus for sensory garden

Play rock abacus for sensory garden

When you’re out in nature feeling calm and relaxed, you’re more receptive to learning. This play rock abacus is both nice to look at and nice to touch, which means it’s a great tool for teachers who want to help their pupils learn some new skills. It’s especially suitable for those on the autism spectrum.

Sensory sand games

Sensory sand games

Because sand is so versatile, it’s an excellent tool for teaching new skills, playing with textures and patterns, and expressing creativity. This smooth sandbox is equipped with carved rocks that allow the artist to create patterns when they roll them around the sand. The rocks are perfectly weighted for an extra sensory boost.

Flowers for touch and interest

Flowers for touch and interest

Flowers engage our touch, sight, smell (and sometimes taste!) senses, which is why we benefit from having the right botanicals in our gardens. Consider introducing some hardy plants for touch, wildlife-friendly plants for sight, and fragrant flowers for smell. How they’re laid out is also important. Before planting your favourite blooms, consider their ideal placement and potential growing patterns.

Mud kitchen idea for sensory garden

Mud kitchen idea for sensory garden

What’s the point of the great outdoors if you can’t get a little dirty? Think about installing a mud kitchen for maximum sensory engagement. Not only does it encourage play and imagination, it’s a great teaching tool that lets learning happen naturally within a safe and fun environment. Mud pie anyone?

Sensory water tub and textures

Sensory water tub and textures

Water is another fun material that ignites touch, sight, sound and sometimes smell. Whether you fill up a tub with water or paper shavings, be sure to incorporate lots of interesting textures in the form of toys, rocks, ropes, boxes, and stones. Cups and water towers are also fun add-ons for moving the water or paper shavings around.

Rockery and plant patch

Secluded rockery and plant patch

Consider creating a quiet area away from the main hustle and bustle of the garden. Rockeries are beautiful to look at, while tall plants that create natural curtains offer privacy and safety. Just imagine the evening sun filtering through the branches as you take in your surroundings? Add some mirrors or wind chimes to complete the aesthetic.

Interesting features for a sensory garden

Interesting features for a sensory garden

When it comes to designing your sensory garden, consider raising your plant beds for easier access (and to avoid them being trampled!), install a water feature or two to engage sight, touch and sound, e.g., a rainwater collection system, and use wooden planters you can engrave for a tactile experience.

We hope you found these sensory garden ideas as soothing as we did!

For pricing information, check out our landscape gardener cost and the cost of installing a water feature.

Like what you see? There’s more where this came from. Check out Checkatrade’s blog for more tips, ideas, how-tos, and inspiration.

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