Sensory garden ideas – create an outdoor space filled with sounds, scents and textures

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Let america amusement you however to works yourself blessed with sensory plot ideas that volition stimulate each the senses.

Sensory gardens are intimate outdoor spaces filled with enticing sounds, scents and textures, designed to delight. All gardens supply sensory experiences, but garden ideas with sensory astatine their bosom volition person a attraction of antithetic elements that stimulate the 5 basal senses of sight, sound, touch, odor and taste. 

These gardens are sometimes stimulating, sometimes calming, and connection tangible, visceral experiences that tin evoke emotions and assistance relaxation.

While sensory gardens are for everyone, they are peculiarly beneficial to children, and those who are disabled oregon suffering with intelligence wellness problems.

Sensory plot ideas

Be inspired by these ideas and proposal from the experts and make a gait that some soothes and captivates.

1. Turn your abstraction into a wildlife garden

garden planting for wildlife

Tall silvery-grey Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ears) is velvety soft, portion floaty petalled pinkish evening primroses (Oenothera speciosa) are heavy scented to pull pollinators

(Image credit: Mark Bolton/Future)

A cleverly planted borderline tin make a stunning focal constituent arsenic good arsenic a magnet for wildlife. If you find thing you like, repetition the planting to make a consciousness of uniformity. Avoid planting successful rigid layers by mixing things up, specified arsenic trying gangly airy plants astatine the beforehand of the borderline to make a veil-like effect. 

Even the smallest terrace oregon courtyard tin beryllium transformed into a wildlife-rich garden. Plant foxgloves and lavender successful borders arsenic they are a magnet for nectar-seeking bees. The inclusion of earthy rustic elements similar wood piles and vertebrate baths, positive choosing the close plants, volition assistance to pull birds, butterflies and bees to your yard. 

‘I’m passionate astir feeding plot birds and adjacent much truthful erstwhile I tin turn plants and seeds which they feast connected directly,’ says works adept Sarah Raven. ‘The ornamental writer panicum is simply a new-found favourite of mine. It looks bully each summertime and provides an endless feast for goldfinches and bluish tits.’

2. Add the dependable of h2o for tranquility

garden plan  by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen

A bid of pools bordered by fiery planting utilizing a colour palette of red, orange, yellowish and golden and featuring reddish blistery poker ‘Tawny King’, Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ and Echinacea ‘Salsa Red’. Garden designed by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen (photograph: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

If you emotion the thought of creating a sensory garden, a pond is simply a indispensable arsenic it's 1 of the champion places to immerse yourself successful the soothing sights and sounds of nature. Introduce a plot pond and it volition soon go a favored spot for quiescent contemplation. 

The plan doesn’t person to beryllium complicated. A modern reflection pool, often accompanied by a h2o leaf oregon rill, volition enactment well. For tiny yards thing smaller similar a freestanding chromatic oregon factual basin is simply a bully choice. If informal backyards are much your thing, a earthy pond volition beryllium good successful the space. 

In this plan the sounds of the h2o enactment successful tandem with the lukewarm palette and brushed textures of the planting to make a genuinely immersive experience. ‘It was truly important to guarantee that the dependable of h2o was relaxing, truthful that you could perceive the calming dependable from anyplace successful the garden,’ says decorator Naomi Ferrett-Cohen. ‘I wanted to marque definite the remainder of the plot was designed to acceptable successful with the h2o feature, mounting it into an country of planting for a feeling of tranquility.’

3. Get the planting premix right 

sensory planting successful  plot  border

Tall spires of orangish foxtail lilies opposition with mounds of Mexican feather writer and blue-grey oversea holly successful this Beth Chatto garden

(Image credit: Åsa Gregers-Warg/Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens)

Plants with absorbing textures and shapes are key. Try including a premix of contrasting forms to make ocular interest. Towering spires of flowers enactment good juxtaposed with debased mounds of feathery ornamental grass, for example. Although opposites successful presumption of texture and signifier they knit unneurotic well.

‘In this plan Mexican feather writer (Stipa tenuissima) works good on the beforehand of the borderline and is truthful tactile you privation to crook down and changeable it,’ says Åsa Gregers-Warg, caput gardener astatine Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens. ‘The muted tones and hair-fine foliage provides the perfect foil for taller perennials. Here it’s teamed with the burnt-orange spires of Eremurus ‘Cleopatra’ (foxtail lily).’ 

Hazy bluish eryngium (sea holly) with its spiny rosettes of flowers introduces different absorbing shape.

Ornamental grasses are cardinal to creating borders similar this. ‘They are versatile and necessitate small attraction portion providing question and quality crossed the seasons,’ says Åsa. ‘They tin either beryllium utilized arsenic punctuation oregon arsenic a swathe into which different plants tin beryllium interwoven.’ 

4. Choose textured surfaces for their tactile qualities

garden designed by Amelia Bouquet

Using contrasting shapes and textures passim a planting plan creates ocular excitement. Garden designed by Amelia Bouquet (photograph: RHS/Joanna Kossak)

(Image credit: RHS/Joanna Kossak)

Consider contrasting ribbed and molded finishes with creaseless surfaces to adhd an absorbing tactile constituent to your plot design. Textured wood tin beryllium contrasted with creaseless paving, for example, to make a striking juxtaposition.

The bespoke woody surface successful this plot plan takes halfway stage. Made of Sussex-grown saccharine chestnut, it invites exploration. ‘This plot is meant to beryllium tranquil, relaxing and inviting. I privation radical to look astatine it and deliberation “I conscionable privation to beryllium there,”’ says Amelia Bouquet of this plot she designed successful enactment of Mental Health UK. ‘Getting into greenish spaces is truthful important for our wellbeing.’ 

Rustic woodland planting enhances the secluded seating area. The ferns, hostas, astilbes, brunneras and delphiniums supply affluent foliage interest, adjacent erstwhile not successful flower. Smooth paving is interspersed with waves of the works mind-your-own concern (Soleirolia soleirolii) to make textural contrast. 

5. Design the layout for an immersive experience

garden plan  by Alan Williams

Adorned with clusters of sweetly scented, creamy achromatic blooms, Heptacodium miconioides adds tallness to the planting, portion mature fig trees make a consciousness of abundance successful this plot designed by Alan Williams 

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

The plan of a sensory plot tin diagnostic abstracted zones to stimulate idiosyncratic senses astatine antithetic times, oregon beryllium a multi-sensory premix wherever everything is enjoyed simultaneously. 

It should ideally see an country designed to entertain friends, wherever you tin dine alfresco and bask the sights, sounds and scents adjacent up. Meanwhile an outdoor room should beryllium alongside fragrant herbs and vegetables for casual access. Think of the layout successful presumption of creating zones of enjoyment. 

A well-placed array and chairs is an invitation to walk clip relaxing successful the yard. The sculptural qualities of this eye-catching woody acceptable acceptable perfectly with the naturalistic planting aesthetic. A tumble of flowers spill from tiered planters constructed successful aged brass. These raised beds marque the planting accessible, which is perfect for brushing against the foliage and enjoying the scent.

6. Take a infinitesimal to pause

pleached trees and sofa successful  modern   courtyard garden

Create a comfy spot to linger portion you bask the sights and sounds of the sensory garden

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin/Future)

Every plot needs a comfy spot to sit, determination you tin bask being immersed successful each it has to offer. The materials and textures of seats tin adhd to the tactile acquisition of the garden, offering a restful interlude. 

Comfort is often overlooked successful favour of plan but it’s cardinal to your enjoyment, offering a accidental to pause. Choose elegant seats that are debased level, modern successful plan and made of earthy wood and with heavy cushions. 

Colors are champion taken from a elemental tonal palette that’s chosen from nature. It’s different mode of introducing textures into the cloth of the garden, too.

7. Use ornamental grasses for landscaping

ornamental grasses edging a pond

If there’s 1 works that’s a indispensable successful the sensory plot it’s ornamental grasses, arsenic shown present successful this plot by designers Farlam & Chandler

(Image credit: Farlam & Chandler)

Handsome architectural grasses adhd texture to the gait for a naturalistic effect. Rhythmic planting of airy grasses creates involvement each twelvemonth round, adding an understated elegance successful a scope of eye-catching colours, everything from affluent golden and luminous metallic to inky achromatic and zingy greenish varieties. 

The instrumentality is to works 1 benignant of writer successful a large escaped artifact to maximize the impact. The rippling writer becomes the prima of the show, a blaze of agleam foliage, plumed flowers and absorbing effect heads. 

Grasses are bully for landscaping, too, particularly erstwhile combined with water. ‘We often integrate ponds successful a mode that adds ocular interaction truthful they consciousness intrinsic to the quality of the garden,’ says Harriet Farlam, originative manager of Farlam & Chandler.

‘In this plot we chose materials to borderline the pond that link to different plot areas, with the periphery softened with a generous gravel border, spot planted with Angel’s sportfishing rod and Stipa gigantea, which overhang the h2o and determination successful the wind, creating a abstraction which is truly sensual and immersive.’ 

8. Plant fragrant lavender successful borders

lavender bushes planted circular  doorway

Lavender bushes adhd scent and colour to heighten entrances

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The scent of lavender and the soothing buzz of bees hovering implicit the flowers connected a summer’s time are a heavenly summation to the yard. Plant lavender adjacent a way oregon doorway truthful you tin brushwood your fingers done the scented bushes arsenic you walk by. It volition capable your plot with fragrance and colour each summertime long.

Set the country by framing doors and windows, some beforehand and back, with beauteous lavender borders. As you locomotion up your way 1 of the astir welcoming sensations connected arriving location is being deed by a waft of delicious fragrance truthful lavender borders volition springiness your entranceway the standout factor. 

The champion assortment to take is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is powerfully scented, and covered successful masses of purple-blue flowers with silvery-grey leaves. Favourite varieties see ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’. French lavender (Lavandula stoecha) person flowers that are a antithetic signifier to the English varieties, topped by beauteous feathery tufts, but their scent is not arsenic strong.

9. Add the soothing trickle of water

garden designed by Tawatchai Sakdikul

Water is simply a ascendant diagnostic successful this sanctuary plot by designers Tawatchai Sakdikul and Ploytabtim Suksang of Ging Gaan Bai 

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

Even the astir elemental plan tin bring pleasure. Of each the plot features, h2o is the astir fascinating. It captivates with its movement, reflections and gentle sounds, bringing an appealing premix of caller sensations. 

This eye-catching elemental circular h2o diagnostic is composed of a raised metallic excavation with 2 pipes delivering trickling h2o that introduces a enactment of tranquility to the yard. 

The acheronian gravel astir the excavation is planted with lush ferns and grasses to furniture up absorbing textural details, and the combined effect is appealing to each the senses successful complementary ways.

10. Use reflections to enhance

Asanoha corten alloy  trellis panel

The Asanoha Corten alloy trellis sheet is inspired by Japanese privateness screens, which were traditionally created with intricately carved woodwork (

(Image credit: Asanoha/)

A tranquil setting, characterized by consecutive lines, elemental shapes, subtle lighting and a coherent layout, provides a comfy light-filled abstraction for retreat from modern-day life. The reflections adhd a magical constituent to the water, helping to make the feeling of a sanctuary.

As good arsenic letting you disagreement the gait into smaller and much intimate areas, immoderate decorative screens tin beryllium considered works of creation successful themselves. Hang them wherever they volition beryllium astir appreciated. 

By introducing a antithetic material, specified arsenic Corten steel, into a plan filled with plants and water, you adhd breathtaking textured accents that heighten the drama. Metal besides adds gleam and reflection to an different matt bid of surfaces specified arsenic the partition and deck. 

Gardens similar this 1 are palmy successful combining each the assorted elements needed to make a genuinely immersive sensory experience.

11. Pick the champion plants for a sensory garden

A religion  ruin surrounded by a chromatic  way  and angiosperm  beds.

The physic plot astatine Castle Park successful Bristol was designed by Emma Coleman for St Mungo’s and sponsored by Jo Malone London’s foundation gardens initiative. Many of the plants successful the plot were inspired by ingredients from the perfume company’s scents, specified arsenic sage for Woody Sage & Sea Salt, and basil for Basil & Neroli

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton Photography)

Aromatherapist Nicolle Mitchell believes herbs tin person existent effects connected the assemblage and caput erstwhile their scents are inhaled. For example, she says, rosemary tin easiness fatigue and assistance you focus; and lavender tin assistance induce slumber and easiness depression, making these fantabulous plants to take for a sensory garden.

12. Use scent to relieve stress

An aged  urn surrounded by greenish  shrubs and bushes.

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

As good arsenic the benefits mentioned supra of rosemary and lavender, Kathi Keville, writer of The Aromatherapy Garden, describes the technological lawsuit for the relaxing, stress-relieving scents of herbs including chamomile and marjoram; the stimulating aromas of basil, peppermint and sage; and the astonishing passion-invoking properties of liquorice-scented plants, among others. 

13. Consider the seasons erstwhile planting for a sensory experience

A raised furniture  afloat  of plants and flowers successful  the sun.

Plant supports big climbers similar  jasmine supra a froth of perennials and herbs including cirsium, ail chives, irises, fennel, dianthus and mint

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton Photography)

There are plentifulness of different fragrant plants to see isolated from herbs. Catherine Cutler, who created the Perfume Garden astatine The Eden Project successful Cornwall, recommends reasoning astir the seasons and including thing for each clip of year. 'Some of the champion scents travel successful winter,' she explains, 'such arsenic the shrub daphne 'Jacqueline Postill'. For angiosperm scent, effort saccharine peas, roses and jasmine, and pinks, which are remarkably sturdy and nutrient a wonderful, heady, clove-like scent,' she continues.

14. Plant fragrant flowers

Sensory plot  ideas with fragrant flowers

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton Photography)

'For larger gardens, my apical prime is Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura tree), which gives disconnected an unthinkable candyfloss scent successful autumn,' says Catherine Cutler. 'Other large plants for a perfume plot see mock orange, a shrub with powerfully fragrant flowers, and fun, much antithetic herbs specified arsenic pome mint, pineapple sage and curry plant. 

The RHS recommends chameleon plant, Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’, a shrub whose leaves odor of lemon; and cocoa cosmos, which has a vanilla scent that children adore.' 

15. Introduce a sensory abstraction successful a tiny garden

Sensory plot  ideas

(Image credit: Ali Allen/Jacquie Melville/Nassima Rothaker)

There is nary request for acres of onshore to marque a plot that volition entreaty to each the senses and beforehand wellness and happiness. Garden decorating ideas specified arsenic a scented hanging basket, a postulation of tactile plants successful containers, oregon a elemental herb-edged pathway are conscionable arsenic susceptible of providing you with invigorating experiences successful a small garden arsenic good arsenic large. 

16. Be astatine 1 with the wind

Sensory plot  ideas utilizing Stachys byzantine.

Stachys byzantine (lamb’s ears)

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton Photography)

To promote radical to research your backyard with their hands, spot trees wrong scope of paths and seats truthful the bark tin beryllium easy stroked. Some plants simply beg to beryllium touched, specified arsenic Stachys byzantine (lamb’s ears), the leaves of which are brushed similar felt.

17. Make it visually pleasing

A landscaped plot  with a gravel pathway

(Image credit: Future / Allan Pollok-Morris)

For ocular interest, usage antithetic textured way surfaces, introducing signifier with decking oregon paving and gravel. You tin besides see sight-driven elements similar flags, sculpture oregon topiary. When decorating a plot wall, promote wildlife with feeders for birds and take nectar-rich plants for butterflies.

18. Enhance with color

Fragrant reddish  flowers successful  a sensory garden

Colorful reddish flowers specified arsenic those of Penstemon ‘Garnet’ are agleam and stimulating

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton Photography)

When it comes to color, it is mostly believed that 'hot’ colors specified arsenic reddish and orangish are stimulating, portion greens and blues are calming, truthful purpose to portion antithetic areas of your plot with this successful mind.

19. Invite night-friendly focal points

Sensory plot  ideas with occurrence  pit

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

If the plot is going to beryllium utilized successful the evening, you tin adhd mesmerising outdoor lighting ideas. Consider a occurrence pit too, and usage plants specified arsenic 4 o’clocks and night-scented stock, which travel into their ain arsenic the prima goes down.

20. Invest successful a pond oregon h2o feature

Sensory plot  ideas with a h2o  feature

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

Water trickling oregon mildly flowing is the soundtrack to a relaxing plot and a fantastic summation to a sensory garden. A h2o feature, specified arsenic a tiny fountain oregon spout, encourages radical to dip their hands oregon feet in, and children to splash and play.

21. Enhance dependable and texture

A Buddha statue astatine  the extremity  of a agelong  gravel way  lined with hedges.

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton )

Incorporate plentifulness of gravel paths to promote question from 1 country to different to make a pleasant crunchy dependable underfoot – you could adjacent opt for colored stones to adhd further stimulation. 

What should a sensory plot include?

Many sensory gardens are conscionable walks oregon pathways, with debased scented plants specified arsenic herbs successful betwixt stepping stones. A winding way works good arsenic it invites you to dilatory down and look around. 

Another fantabulous sensory plan is simply a keyhole garden, with a constrictive introduction opening into a larger abstraction wherever you tin remainder portion immersed successful planting. Whatever the design, see comfy seating successful a portion of the garden that is shaded.

Choose landscaping materials with a tactile element, specified arsenic creaseless pebbles. A h2o diagnostic volition stimulate some interaction and sound.

For sound, analyse upwind sculptures and dependable fences – rows of tubes that marque a melody erstwhile a instrumentality is dragged on them – oregon cervid scarers, the tip-tapping h2o features from Asia and utilized successful zen plot ideas.

Sound inspired sensory plot  ideas with a upwind   sculpture

(Image credit: Futre / Bridget Peirson)

What plants are bully for a sensory garden?

For a calming earthy soundscape, take bamboo, trees similar weeping birch and plant ornamental grasses specified arsenic Briza maxima and miscanthus, to bask their leaves rustling successful the breeze.

Scent is 1 of the astir vivid senses, which tin amended temper and trigger memories and beardown feelings. To seizure these benefits, usage fragrant plants, but works them astatine intervals truthful the antithetic scents volition not beryllium overwhelming. For taste, adhd 'pick and eat' possibilities with pots of strawberries oregon stepover pome trees.

How bash you marque a tiny sensory garden?

If you privation to make a tiny oregon DIY sensory garden, past it is champion to program zones that ore connected antithetic senses. You could make a listening country by placing a spot adjacent to a soothing h2o feature, accompanied by the gentle buzz of insects. Or works a raised plot bed oregon containers with herbs, allowing casual entree to hitch oregon sniff their aromatic leaves and flowers. To activate the consciousness of touch, deliberation astir textures underfoot, from chill writer to crunchy gravel. 

But if you lone person country for a mates of pots, past your champion enactment is scented pelargoniums, the leaves of which merchandise aromas of citrus oregon roseate erstwhile rubbed. And marque definite determination are nary toxic, thorny oregon irritant plants – the Royal Horticultural Society has a database connected its website.