How to create a sensory garden

A well-established garden is a feast for the senses; the combination of colour, scent, texture and sound, plus a sprinkling of sunshine, can be an instant mood booster. In this blog we explore how to create a sensory garden that is specifically designed for sensory needs, whether you want to create your own sensory garden at home for you and your family or for a school, for specific needs and therapy or for the elderly. We have spoken to the experts and gathered examples from some of the many sensory gardens that we have designed raised beds and garden seating for over the years via our Free Design Service and through our commercial business WoodBlocX Landscaping.

What are the benefits of sensory gardens?

We asked Sensory Technology, experts in creating outdoor spaces that are optimised to stimulate the senses for schools, care homes, hospitals and more to tell us about the benefits of sensory gardens. Their gardens include plenty of specially selected plants, easily accessible raised planters and also other elements such as pergolas with coloured roof panels to reflect different colours depending on the time of day, water features and textured and colourful pathways. These are all things that could be easily incorporated into a DIY sensory garden.

The top five benefits of sensory gardens:

  • Sensory gardens can be accessible to a range of users across different ages, needs and abilities
  • The gardens are a fun way of interacting with the natural environment around us
  • They provide a safe space to develop and improve core skills
  • For youngsters, these spaces encourage an interactive and engaging way of learning outside of the classroom
  • Above all, sensory gardens are therapeutic, creating a calming environment for users to visit and de-stress

What to plant in a sensory garden

Selecting a good mixture of plants is key when creating a sensory garden. Antony Henn, garden designer and founder of garden border in a box company, Garden on a Roll, shares his top 10 sensory garden plants with us. His selection includes a selection of aromatic and colourful herbs.

  • Rosemary – Incredibly useful kitchen herb which grows happily in most positions. It flowers early in the year and its scented blue flowers are loved by emerging bees and butterflies.
  • Lavender – Probably the best-known garden plant. Beautiful, scented flowers and aromatic foliage. Attractive to all manner of beneficial insects and helps you sleep!
  • Fennel – Looks beautiful in any border and the flower umbels and seed heads are attractive to wildlife and look fabulous even in winter.
  • Sage – Attractive evergreen, certain varieties such as silver or jerusalem have soft leaves that are nice to touch
  • Bay – This useful evergreen is popular for lots of dishes and as a topiary specimen in a container. It can of course be grown in the garden too but needs clipping twice a year if you don’t want it to grow too large.
  • Oregano – Much loved by bees and butterflies, this beautiful low growing herb is used in many dishes and works well in any sunny, well-drained position.
  • Chives – Grassy-looking foliage used extensively in the kitchen. Beautiful flower spikes in early-mid summer which all insects love.
  • Thyme – Low-growing popular herb that looks lovely in any sunny, well-drained border. Bees love the flowers and the stems and foliage are used in many dishes.
  • Parsley – Such a useful herb, which grows well in a pot on the patio with other complimentary plants. Great in salads and many dishes with attractive foliage too.
  • Mint – Best grown in posts to stop it spreading too much. Many different types are available which are used and loved in kitchens around the world.

Each of the herbs listed are edible and provide beautiful calming aromas, combine these with rustling grasses of varying heights to add sound, or vibrant perennials and you have covered all of the senses.

Sensory garden ideas using WoodBlocX

Many of our customers use our raised beds, garden furniture and ponds to create sensory spaces at home. Our structures are quick and fun to build - see how here, you can even get the kids helping with building (supervision needed) and once built the natural rough sawn wood provides sensory experience in itself thanks to its texture.

Raised beds can be built at any height and in any shape to suit your garden. Water features can be easily added, just talk to our designers via our Free Design Service and they will advise on  how best to incorporate one into your design, or you could create a raised pond to create a dedicated water feature or relaxing zen space.

Adding seating is an essential part of any garden, and for a sensory garden it can be enhanced by adding planters to create planter benches, this way you can sit amongst the plants, listen to sounds and experience the beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies that visit the plants.

Here are a few additional accessories that you could consider adding to you garden to enhance its sensory experience:

  • Wind chimes - metal, wood or even seashell wind chimes will create calming sounds
  • Mirrors - add mirrors to walls and fences to increase light and reflections
  • Windmills - place these in amongst the plants to catch light breezes
  • Water features - the sound of water can be calming and therapeutic
  • Colourful touches - paint fence panels, add colourful tiles or paint plant pots for a vibrant burst of colour

Sensory garden gallery

Sensory garden ideas for schools

Gardening is increasingly being used in schools to learn and to improve the physical health and wellbeing of pupils. Using WoodBlocX can not only help to create the ultimate sensory garden but thanks to the lightweight nature of our wooden components, students can also get involved in building the structures too, giving them a great sense of achievement.

Many schools use our kits and bespoke services to enhance playgrounds and create sensory and vegetable gardens. Read our blog for ideas and inspiration on how to create a vegetable garden at school.

WoodBlocX kits for school sensory gardens

Large L-Shaped Raised Bed with Seating

Large Circular Raised Bed

Large Octagonal Multi Level Raised Bed

Triple Planter Bench Seat for Kids

Planter benches are a popular choice for schools as the seating can be used for outdoor lessons or as a place to relax and enjoy being around nature at lunchtimes. Circular raised beds are great for adding a natural shape to sensory gardens, and multi-level options allow multiple children of different heights to access the planters.

Sensory garden ideas for people with disabilities

Our raised beds and planters are idea for creating an accessible garden, simply choose one of our many accessible raised beds or planter and seating combinations or one of our specially designed shapes that allow wheelchair users to access the heart of the growing space.

Gardens and gardening can play a vital role in rehabilitation and therapy and can therefore provide a sanctuary for people with a range of disabilities including wheelchair users. From potting, planting, growing and tending to spending time in a calm and natural space.

Read our blog on creating a wheelchair accessible garden.

Raised bed designs for people with disabilities

H-Shaped Wooden Planter

Large U-Shaped Planter

Medium raised planter

Bestselling Raised Beds

Wheelchair Accessible Raised Bed

The H-Shaped Wooden Planter and U-Shaped Raised Beds provide wheelchair users with an internal space to allow them to reach all areas of the raised bed, giving them the freedom to carry out sowing, planting, tending and watering comfortably.

Our bestselling standard raised beds can be rectangular, square, circular, L-shapes, octagons and even circles. Use our Raised Bed Calculator to select a shape and size to suit you or use of Free Design Service for bespoke shapes.

The Wheelchair Accessible Raised Bed is a great option to use as a potting bench that can also be planted with sensory plants to create a great focused space.

Create a sensory garden using WoodBlocX

We can help you get started today

Whether you're looking to create a sensory garden at home, at school, in a community garden or other setting we can help you to bring your ideas to life and advise you on how best to use our structures in the garden.

Use our Free Design Service for bespoke projects or designs, our raised bed calculators to quickly select the size you want across our standard shapes or browse our garden furniture, ponds and raised beds to find your perfect sensory garden centrepiece.

Awards & Accreditations

  • WoodBlocX Queen's Awards
  • Made in Britain Badge
  • feefo Platinum Service Award