How to Design a Therapy garden


How to design a therapy garden for your lifestyle and circumstances. Allow gardening to help you heal, meditate, and navigate life.

woman standing barefoot in her therapy garden next to a tomato plant and a marigold plant.
Standing in my garden barefoot is part of my therapy, what is yours?

I’m not a therapist, nor do I claim that a garden will solve all your problems, but having a garden has healed me in many ways over the years. That is why I want to share with you how to design a therapy garden for your own personal needs.

Today I noticed that my indoor plant had popped out a new little leaf. I stood closer to observe it’s newness and glory. It made me happy to see the plant change. I felt happy to know that my plant was healthy enough to bring out a new leaf.

There are many ways that growing a garden can become therapeutic to you, but first we need to figure out what kind of garden you should grow. You don’t want to design a therapy garden that ends up stressing you out or not being something you like.

Where do you live?

Your space and home type make a big impact on what you can grow. Do you have a large yard, small yard, patio, side yard, balcony or deck. Is your yard shady? Do you have harsh winters? Is there a home owners association that requires you to plant certain things?

apartment container garden with black pots

If you have a shady yard, you will want to pick plants that do well in full or part shade. If you have cold winters plant things that will go dormant over the winter and can come back in the spring (perennial). Be mindful of things called growing zones. Pick plants that say they will grow well in your zone. You can find your zone here.

If you want to grow annuals (things that you plant in the spring and die in the fall) you will need to buy new ones each year. Some people love to design a therapy garden every spring and so they just pick annuals to fill their garden beds.

Do you want your garden to be indoor or outdoor?

Indoor potted plant in a white pot on top of a slice of a aspen tree.

For some, they love their garden because it gets them outside. Others love being surrounded by their plants or don’t have the space outdoors to grow a garden. You could love cozying up next to your pants while reading a book or sitting on a swing next to your favorite rose bush outside. Decide what is you.

You don’t have to choose indoor or outdoor either, you can do both. Just make sure you can maintain all your growing friends. We will talk more on that later.

What kinds of plants will you grow in your therapy garden?

Are you wanting to grow edible plants? Are you thinking to plant a full on vegetable garden? Or more along the lines of a herb garden. Maybe you absolutely love strawberries and simply need a strawberry patch in your side yard.

If cooking and baking is your thing, consider designing an herb therapy garden. This can be done on a large or very small scale. Indoor or outdoor. Another amazing benefit of an herb garden is if you enjoy herbal tea.

There is something special about collecting herbs from your herb garden, and making a lovely tea out of them. I don’t know what is more calming than a homegrown tea. My most favorite is growing a raspberry bush (double bonus, raspberries and tea) collect the leaves and then collecting a few leaves from lemon balm. So Tasty!

Then there is gardening that is more for the aesthetic pleasure. Design a beautiful landscape around your porch or fill your home with decorative plants. There is so much pleasure from making something beautiful and watching things grow and develop over the years.

Add some sensory to your therapy garden

A peach colored zinnia flower in my therapy garden with it's tips frosted from a cold fall morning.
The first frost came this morning. I walked out to notice the beauty before it all died and became brown. I was so glad I did.

Getting your mind to pay attention to its senses is a way of becoming more mindful. A great way to find peace in your soul is to walk around your garden, notice the smells, rub the leaves, walk on smooth or rough pavers. Add textured pots, or textured plants.

Brush your hands against an herb plant then smell the oils on your fingers. Taste some of your edible plants. Look closely at the designs on the leaves. This practice alone, in a quite moment, can bring you back to a more pleasant state of mind.

Create a therapy garden journal

Journaling is known for its therapeutic abilities, but have you ever thought of doing a garden journal? Write down what you have planted this year. Walk around your garden and note the new growth, write down the things that make you happy. Write down the things you want to grow next year or next month.

Take time to note what is thriving and what isn’t. Is there a way you can nurture the dying plant? Or do yo let it go? Take time to observe what is going on in your garden. Observation is a great way to meditate and become in tune with the world around you.

I love writing in my journal when I feel bursts of inspiration in my garden. It is amazing what ideas pop into my head when I am in my garden!

Plan for some plants to die in your therapy garden

dead zinnia plant.

If you plan on it happening, then you won’t feel as sad when it happens. It’s a part of life. Not all things are made to live as long as others. If something you grow dies, take the time to meditate on it. observe the leaves, the soil, the sun. This is a time for you to grow your knowledge, don’t count it as a failure.

Be careful and start small

You will always have the ability to add more when you design a therapy garden. Start small, don’t make the mistake of creating something so overwhelming and exhausting to take care of that you miss the point of the garden completely.

I am amazed at how much joy I can receive from just one plant. I believe you can too. Start small. Use your garden journal to write down things you would like to add to your garden. You may find that what you really like to grow will change over time. Starting small will allow you to make that change more easily.

Now it is time for you to take the first step in designing a therapy garden. Follow this post as it will help guide you towards creating your masterpiece. Comment below on ways that you use your garden for therapy!

Teach your kids about plants along your garden therapy journey with this free printable!

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