What is Horticultural Therapy
Horticultural therapy uses a variety of gardening activities as treatment for individuals who require support with their physical or mental health. The benefits of horticultural therapy are huge. It can manage, improve and even cure a variety mental & physical disabilities. Get outside and engaging with nature is a great escapism from the issues an individual may face on a day to day basis.
Gardening is a form of physical and mental exercise, concentrating the mind and body on a gardening activity can improve overall health. In a nutshell horticultural therapy will make you will feel happier, relaxed and more positive.
Horticultural therapy helps to improve mental wellbeing, self confidence, social skills, reduce stress & anxiety, memory & cognition and improve your mood to name a few for people with issues such as:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Depression & anxiety
Learning disabilities
Eating disorders
Psychotic disorders
Personality disorders
Addiction disorders
Physical Health Benefits
Horticultural therapy also helps to improve and manage overall physical health, rehabilitation, fitness, strength & mobility, coordination & balance for people with issues such as:
Visual impairment
Spinal injury
Muscular dystrophy
Wheelchair users
Old age
Physical injuries
Tips for Designing a Garden for Horticultural Therapy
Access to the garden for disabled users should be the first thing to consider. Any access doors to the outside should be wide enough for wheelchairs and beds to comfortably move through with level thresholds. Outdoor surfaces should be smooth, non-slip and free draining. Trafficked areas should be larger than usual to allow movement of wheelchairs and beds, with paths being a minimum of 1.5m wide. The preferred gradient for access ramps would be 1:20, but can be a maximum of 1:12 as per British standards.
Planting beds of various heights for wheelchair users and people confined to hospital beds should be a necessity. Using specially designed planting beds with space underneath allows closer access for disabled users, allowing for a greater connection with the garden. Planting spaces can be built to encourage such activities as sowing seeds, this is a great task to help people relax and focus the mind for those who suffer with mental health issues, especially dementia.
The sight and smell of plants can invoke therapeutic memories, while getting hands on in the garden gives a sense of purpose. The main thing to remember is to use large seeds which are easy to pick up and place. Using small seeds that are hard to pick up could be frustrating and potentially create the opposite effect! Growing of herbs, fruit and vegetables can be a great way for users to feel attached to the space. Produce can be eaten and served for garden charity events, and even used to make natural remedies to help with treatment. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals they provide to improve overall health and wellbeing.
Encouraging others to work together in the garden helps develop social skills for those who have learning disabilities, being outside in a relaxed environment encourages people to work collaboratively in an organic way.
Engaging the senses is essential to horticultural therapy. Smell, touch, sight, hearing and taste. The visually impaired and benefit greatly from planting schemes. Planting schemes tailored to the needs of horticultural therapy should include seasonal interest of texture, colour, scent and sound from grasses moving in the wind.
How to Get Started
If you feel horticultural therapy could help you or someone you know, or if you would just like lend a helping hand, there are many ways to get involved:
Contact charities, schools, hospitals
Start a gardening group and promote it locally
Volunteering is brilliant, most charities and organisations survive solely on donations and would welcome any assistance
DonateJust think of any charity you have ever hear of, the chances are they can all benefit from horticultural therapy
How We Can Help
The Landscape Service has a strong personal connection with mental health and well being, and regularly engage with local charities to support the services they provide. We are passionate about helping others and supporting their mental and physical health. We have experience with designing gardens for dementia & hospital gardens, assisted living developments, mental health units, care homes and learning disability users.
If you are a charity, organisation or hospital etc, and require support or assistance, we can work with you to design a space and help to raise funds through crowdfunding or charitable events.