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Engage your senses with a vibrant sensory garden

a close up photo of several plants in the garden with varying textures

A sensory garden is not only a feast for the eyes but also for your nose, touch, taste buds, and ears. They are perfect for schools, healthcare facilities, or your backyard oasis. Here's how you can create a sensory garden:

Pick the Perfect Spot

Find a location that gets plenty of sunshine every day during the growing season. Be sure to pay attention to the light requirements for each plant.

Plan and Design

Before you get started moving soil and installing plants, create a plan. Sketch out the garden's layout, size, and shape. Start with circles that indicate the location and relative size of the plants at maturity. Add color if that is helpful to visualize the plants in the space.  Don't forget paths, seating areas, and focal points.

Choose Your Plants

A sensory garden needs a wide variety of plants that stimulate all the senses. Keep in mind how different plants will engage the senses.


Make your garden stand out by playing with contrasting colors, textures, light, shadow, and forms. Add plants that bloom at different times of the day or season, and feature varying leaf patterns, unusual bark, and stem colors to create visual intrigue. Eye-catching flowers, foliage, and creative plant arrangements as well as bright colors and interesting floral forms add visual interest. A variety of leaf shapes and colors create an interesting background for the more colorful flowers and fruits. Add decorative items like wind chimes, sculptures, or colorful flags to make the garden more visually interesting.


Smells can evoke memories of cherished places and people. While some plants, such as roses, release fragrance naturally, others only do so when crushed or rubbed, like the scented geranium. Indulge in the sweet scents of flowers such as lavender, lilac, or peonies. Add culinary herbs for the aromatic scent of thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, or oregano.


Make sure you mix up a variety of plant textures. Add some bark, foliage, flowers, seeds, and fruits to get started. Choose sturdy plants that can handle a good squeeze.  Select a mix of plants with soft, rough, and spiky sensations. Think leafy ferns, velvety rose petals, woolly lamb's ear, and airy ornamental grasses. Additionally, succulent leaves with smooth, fleshy textures are perfect for a range of tactile experiences.


Sensory gardens are a fun and exciting way to grow and try out different plants. Introduce a range of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to the garden and explore the range of flavors available to you. Don't be afraid to get creative with edible flowers like pansies or nasturtiums. When selecting herbs, consider flavorful options like basil, chives, and lemon balm. Fruit-bearing plants such as strawberries, thornless blackberries, blueberries, and small fruit trees like apples, and peaches make for delicious additions. Colorful Swiss chard, kale, assorted carrot varieties, and a mix of lettuces are both beautiful and delicious additions to a sensory garden. Ensure you label the edible plants in the garden and avoid mixing them with toxic plants.


A garden can offer a truly immersive sensory experience, including sound. There are many ways to stimulate the sense of sound in the garden. Start with flora that rustle or rattle with the wind, such as rattlesnake master, false indigo, or ornamental grasses. Add wind chimes, which can add melodic sounds to the garden. Birds with their lovely songs will be attracted to the garden with bird feeds and birdbaths. Dry leaves or graveled paths that create a satisfying crunch when stepped on. Water features provide an additional layer of auditory stimuli to the garden.

Make the Garden Welcoming and Accessible

Invite visitors to enter the garden space with an accessible pathway to guide them into the sensory garden. Provide seating areas where people can sit and enjoy the garden. Benches, chairs, or even rocks can be used for this purpose. Enhance the sensory experience with tactile boards, scent jars, or musical instruments like chimes and drums. Add educational signage that explains the different sensory aspects of the garden, the types of plants, and their uses. A sensory garden is all about creating a diverse and vibrant space that's relaxing and engaging.