There’s something peaceful about walking through a garden and taking in the beauty and smells of different flowers. Even vegetable gardens have a certain sentiment to them because they represent warm weather, new growth, and fresh food for our tables. Despite all of the pleasure we get from viewing a green and colorful garden, some would argue that the best way to appreciate plants is to grow them ourselves. If you’ve never dug your hands into the soil and got a little dirty rooting new growth, you’re missing out. Plus, your patients might also be interested in knowing about horticulture therapy benefits.
Planting, watering, and maintaining a garden can actually be very therapeutic. Some doctors, psychologists, and occupational therapists are exploring the benefits in using it as a formal type of therapy for troubled children, the elderly, and those struggling with mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety. If you have patients that might be interested in a formal garden therapy program, check out the most significant discoveries on horticulture therapy benefits.
Top Horticulture Therapy Benefits
What scientists know for sure is that gardening reduces stress and calms the nerves, so it makes sense to use the activity for therapy. The techniques used during horticultural therapy help patients learn new skills or regain those that are lost. Gardening therapy can help strengthen muscles, improve coordination, and balance. It can also help to improve memory and cognitive abilities, and it can even make people more social. Gardening therapy allows people to work independently and get better at problem-solving.
People have been studying and documenting horticulture therapy benefits since ancient times, and different studies continue to show the positive effects it has on people with all kinds of struggles. For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture focused on kids in a juvenile rehabilitation center in Ohio, and it found that having a garden program helped the kids see themselves in a more positive light and better manage their emotional and behavioral issues.
Not just any garden can be deemed a therapeutic garden. There are certain characteristics of a therapeutic garden that make it most efficient for therapy programs. The gardens typically have certain features, such as walking paths, raised planting beds, and a sensory-oriented plant selection that is focused on color, texture, and fragrance.
Also, some therapeutic gardens are inside, so the activity isn’t restricted to a certain season. This can be helpful for people who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which causes depression and lowered energy in the winter due to lack of sunlight.
Typically therapeutic gardens are designed through a collaborative effort between landscapers and therapists so that they are sure to benefit people with a wide range of abilities.
Although anyone can decide to start gardening and see if it improves their situation, there are actually professionals out there that specifically study and train on how to help patients with horticulture therapy benefits. Horticultural therapists go through special training and educational programs to provide horticulture therapy sessions to patients.