Four Fundamentals of Design for Therapeutic Gardens

I've always admired Claire Cooper Marcus' work. Over the years I've given out a half dozen copies of her book, House as Mirror of Self, and I am inspired by her healing and therapeutic gardens. Recently I've learned of a resource for therapeutic gardening on the east coast: Naomi Sachs, ASLA,Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network. On her blog she has detailed four important rules for creating successful and safe therapeutic gardens in the healthcare setting, specifically gardens in hospitals, nursing homes, treatment centers, hospices, and other places where people go to either get well or die gracefully in good, loving, capable hands. All places we are actively designing.


1. Design for the client (the "user").


2. Design for comfort.


3. Design for safety.


4. Design for maintenance.


She asks these questions:


Is the space being designed for the people who will use it?

Is the space comfortable, both physically and emotionally?

Is the space safe? Can the space be maintained over many years?


If yes, yes, yes, and yes, you are on the way to creating a successful healing garden. For an excellent place to start reading about therapeutic landscape design please do visit the Therapeutic Landscapes Network.