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Benefits of Garden Therapy: Reduces Stress and Symptoms of Mental Illnesses Such as Schizophrenia or Dementia

The therapeutic power of nature as a space to enhance well-being is something that was already taken into account by the ancient Egyptians , who believed that landscaped outdoor spaces had healing properties for spiritual and emotional problems.

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Currently these benefits are still being explored through the so-called ‘therapeutic gardens’ , that is, green spaces designed for the relationship and interaction with nature that also favor stimulation, education, development and rehabilitation at a physical level, people’s psychological and emotional.

According to experts from the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) , therapeutic gardens have many properties. Among the most important: reduce stress, symptoms of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, dementia, autism spectrum disorder, mood disorders and related pathologies and, in general, improve mood.

In addition, many patients experience remarkable improvements thanks to garden therapy “in the feeling of self-efficacy , in the sense of achievement and success, and in the discovery of pleasant and relaxing activities . It allows people to develop their own identity , get out of their role as a patient dependent on others and get involved in an occupation perceived as important by society”, stand out from the study of the landscape designer Fernando Pozuelo , winner of the international A Design Award 2020 and Prize Best of Houzz Design 2021.

In this context, the veteran landscaper with more than two decades of experience highlights some of the characteristics that these gardens should have and how they should be designed so that their positive impact on people is greater:

Visual stimulus

According to the expert, the bright colors of the flowers are striking for patients and can convey a certain degree of concentration. “Also through the textures, which can be pleasant to the eye, and above all the color green, which reassures them, not only through the plants, but also in paintings or trompe l’oeil that can be painted in the centers themselves” , he points out.

More sensory species

The use of aromatic plants such as lavender, rosemary, santolina, contribute to a stimulation of smell , something that also helps patients. “To work on touch, touching some species with the fingertips, such as grasses, which are more graceful, softer and silkier plants, is reassuring ”, he adds.

Design and distribution

For the landscaper, the design of these gardens is essential, since everything has to be arranged with a clear objective: to enhance that interaction with the natural environment . “These designs are usually very organized and rectilinear, especially in the cultivated areas, and are distributed by flowerbeds or flower beds, which tend to be quite orthogonal.”

The purpose of this design should be to generate different areas of use with different possibilities for patients . “One of them can be an area for cultivation, recreational areas, where you can do sports or outdoor activities, walking areas or remote spaces to concentrate through techniques such as painting or sculpture.”

Maintenance as a ritual

The care of these gardens can be considered as a healing formula in itself. “Patients can carry out activities with plants, such as pruning, weeding when it comes to removing weeds, harvesting, mowing… something that can become a routine, being activities that help them relax and find that moment Zen”.

In addition, all these activities allow the development of interpersonal relationships with other people , as well as cooperation, responsibility and communication. “Although we have highlighted its use in different institutions, its expansion is reaching the private sphere, and it is that more and more homes are betting on a design that encourages interaction with nature with a purpose of seeking well-being”, comments Fernando Pozuelo.



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