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From the Egyptian culture in 1500AC it is believed that landscaped outdoor spaces can be spiritually and emotionally curative, and many aspects of the effect of nature on health are still under study. How can we doubt the healing power of greenery, sunlight and fresh air?

But today, in institutions such as hospitals and residences, air conditioning has replaced natural ventilation, balconies and terraces have disappeared, and nature has succumbed to parking. Making these environments stressful for patients, their visits and staff.

But what is a therapeutic garden? What exactly comprises a healing garden?
For it is a landscaped and delimited space, designed specifically to bring comfort and benefits, physical, psychological and social for the users and visitors. Because the contrast between the constructions and the natural is noticeable, the difference is to have richer sensory experiences, varied and organic forms, replacing the straight lines, but the cycle of life taught by nature is most noticeable, and you do not remember Both anxiety, illness and death. These gardens take you to a more relaxed and calm state that stimulates the immune system giving more opportunities for the body to heal itself.
It is vital to understand that these gardens do not cure cancer, or a broken arm, but they facilitate stress reduction, provide a site for physiotherapy, horticulture-therapy exercises, among other advantages such as socialization of users.
They are divided into two categories:

– Restorative Garden: for the reduction of stress, emotional support, cognitive balance, and increased sense of well-being. They can be universal or focus on small groups (children), or specific stress (cancer). Subtypes: sanctuary, meditation, and ritual gardens.
– Rehabilitation Gardens: facilitate the development or maintenance of physical or cognitive skills, through interaction with plants. Secondary benefits include improving social and psychological skills.

Medical facilities and residences lead the resurgence of the therapeutic garden because they recognize the benefits both to patients and to levels of business marketing, to include views of nature and therapeutic gardens in the palliative treatment protocol. (Ulrich, 1999)
Other institutions such as prisons , and schools are beginning to expand their programs to include activities in the garden, as an aid to improving self – esteem and social behavior.
Many civic centers are being renovated to incorporate both; Restoration and rehabilitation gardens with the aim of directing social alienation and deprivation of rights, based on studies proving that green spaces and community gardens in urban areas reduce vandalism and violence. (Lewis, 1996)
Even religious organizations are installing restorative gardens and ritual spaces, returning to the roots and paving the way for spiritual healing through increased exposure to nature.

Theoretical Basis:

There are three different hypotheses that explain therapeutic gardens. (Stigsdotter and Grahn, 2002)
– Nature Refreshes the emotional centers in the limbic system of the brain, evoking comforting biological responses. In this family and natural environment, relaxation is promoted with a positive result.
– Greenery supports cognitive functions, limiting excessive stimulation, and the need for constant attention, allowing oneself to develop their attention to itself.
– An environment with a relative prominence of plants and natural elements can restore the balance between the perception of the need to control and the ability to control, which otherwise may be very dissimilar in situations of high stress and tension.


The prosperity of plants is one of the most significant factors in the perception of the curative benefits of nature. It is interesting that there is a metamorphosis of the plants in these gardens. Thus users can become aware of changes in the life cycle, the seasons, a watercourse. But mainly that the plants are healthy.
In addition to this it is essential that in a therapeutic garden is designed according to the level of maintenance that will receive. This applies or all therapeutic gardens, even those that are designed for client / patient participation, a routine care should be performed by professionals, if one wishes to maintain a high level of therapeutic properties.
Beyond providing healthy plants, JTs must be designed and detailed in order to withstand all the emotional load and cognitive changes they will receive from users.
That is why therapeutic landscaping must be carried out by a multidisciplinary team, and especially have the help of health professionals. As well as keeping in mind that many of the common aspects of traditional garden design can be counterproductive in JTs. Particularly harmful are designs that are susceptible to ambiguous interpretations, because in most cases they will be interpreted negatively by users who are not well or at all under stress. (Ulrich, 1999) Plants with irritating sensory characteristics should also be avoided, or the design where the number of floors and structures exceeds the number of plants.

Restorative Gardens Conceptual Bases – Restorative Gardens

Current research indicates that the regenerative benefits of natural environments stem from a series of signals that suggest a therapeutic process that meets all three environmental hypotheses as a healing factor.
This therapeutic process is composed of four phases:
– La Jornada
– The sensory awakening
– Awareness of self
– tuning Spiritual
Experience all phases of restoration provides maximum benefit, evoking a quiet alertness. Each phase individually can be more useful to specific populations and therefore should be emphasized in the design of gardens for these users. For the time being in intensive care hospitals, garden users in particular need to get rid of the institutionalized image of medical buildings and buildings. (Cooper Marcus and Barnes, 1995)
Patients or other hospitalized (institutions) same as for a short period of time, suffer from lack of control over their personal life, lack of family and friends and suffer from passivity. These factors inhibit the body’s ability to heal itself.
The JT help ease the stress of patients and staff by providing the following:
– greater notion of control and privacy;
– social support;
– physical exercise and movement;
– access to nature and other positive elements.

Principles for Restorative Gardens

Ease of mobility and provision of private and social seating in the garden are particularly significant.
In addition the following recommendations are critical for this type of gardens:
. The Journey: invites physical and visual exploration. Transitions highlighted with hidden views, changing the orientation, and coats of different climates, light and shadow, different degrees of enclosure to create movement, and vision of estrangement, trying to change the painful perspectives of patients.
. Sensory awakening: a variety of non-invasive sensory stimuli, and opportunities to stop and enjoy the sensations. Attention to fragrances and wind, which are usually not noticed. This brings awareness to the moment and reduces the need for other conflictive mental activity.
. Self-awareness: apply the concept of shelters and other protective measures to create physical and psychological aerial that stimulate reflection or healing.
. Spiritual attunement: incorporate a sense of preciousness, through the ephemeral, unusual and intriguing, or the connection with other species (exotic or domestic) and move away the present problem by extending the presence of oneself to the future.
These environmental qualities facilitate analytical thinking and evoke experiences of transcendence and consciousness of the universe.

Choice of Site and use of space

To obtain the best therapeutic benefits, a restorative garden should be located where there is a minimal intrusion of the environment, especially what reminds of the presence of society. Mechanical noise, negligence and vandalism are dissuasive of the therapeutic potential of an outer space.
While garden design should pass the “get away” feel, it should also be located close to potential users. For example, in hospitals, a visual connection between the garden and the hallways or waiting rooms are critical for optimal garden use.
In places where social interaction is an important therapeutic factor (as in residences), provide ample social spaces (accommodating 6 to 10 people) with fixed and also movable seats.
Many significant details of the design of therapeutic gardens differ from one site to another.
These elements of landscaping should be discussed with staff and other professionals working on the process, and modified according to the specific needs of each project.
Some garden features can promote more than one restorative phase.

Conceptual Bases of Rehabilitation Gardens – Enabling Gardens

These gardens are designed to provide experiences that increase or support the highest levels of functionality and well being to people. People committed to gardening or the routine maintenance of a garden tend to improve and reinforce pre existing skills, as well as to train and renew new physical and mental skills. This is achieved through participation in solitary and group activities and can be spontaneous or organized.
Restorative Gardens are usually designed for people with special needs. Age, physical and cognitive skills of users, and their potential for improvement and recovery are factors that influence the need for appropriate landscaping.
These mental, physical and psychological needs must be found in the garden. Environmental adaptations that meet medical needs are also essential.

Principles for Rehabilitation Gardens

It must be safe physically and psychologically.
Must provide three levels of commitment:
– activities, opportunities and challenges.
Evaluating these components for physical and psychological improvement can serve as a structure for design goals and can assist in incorporating the right elements for proper landscaping.

Benefits of each component:

. Development of physical skills
. Experimenting with learning
. Sensory exploration
. Compliance tasks
. Integration and joint work
. The reward of harvesting flowers, herbs and vegetables

. Care and nurture a living being that responds and grows
. Exercise responsibility
. Reacting independently
. Opportunity to contribute.
. Retrieve a skill or identity
. Improved memory
. Explore limits on a benign site
. Express choices and aspects of life
. Relations between the generations (share, learn, teach)
. Participate in something
. Support and support of others.

. Meet the goals of the day
. Increase physical and psychological growth
. Achieve goals effectively
. Strategic thinking
. Confidence, sense of worth
. Relaxation through exhaustive work.

Collaboration with medical professionals to develop the activities and to find out the levels of skill of the users helps to adapt the level of challenge of activities in the garden.

Choice of Site and use of space

Scheduled activities for new patients to introduce them to the horticulture and the sensorial stimulation that carry this activity.
Structure and furnishings that facilitate access and gardening activities, improving the experience with horticulture.
Well-defined boundaries (edges), free entrances and exits, directing attention to garden elements.
Plant profusion, and human-plant interactions to integrate and emphasize sensory qualities.
Eliminate environmental pollution through the practices of horticulture, also giving the feeling of comfort and safety.
Unique sites that promote independence, reduce stress and make you sit in a special place, in your own way, with inner peace.
Extremely important:
– Soils in excellent condition
– Good drainage
– Good topographic level
– Right solar orientation
– identifying posters (which stimulate conversation)
– Take advantage of the changing seasons

Recommended Restorative and Restorative Garden Elements

Practical features:
– Respect the universal concepts of accessible design.
– Materials and non – toxic practices
– Smooth surfaces
– Glare Reduction
– Caminos with minimum width 1.80 m
– Guardrails
– UV protection areas
– limited exterior views
– Security lights
– Resistant Plants

Restorative and rehabilitative elements:
– Associative memory (plant selection)
– Encouraging wildlife
– Encourage the presence of birds (avoid in asylums)
– Points of common interest
– Areas exercises with different levels
– spaces for socializing
– Private spaces
– green plants (avoid many flowers, pollen)
– Fragrance
– touch Interest
– Elements of fascination
– Attracting attention to the wind
– seats refugees
– aesthetic Lights

General elements:
– Inputs and very well marked and defined outputs
– Seats regularly found
– Moderate temperature
– Sito fencing

The Therapeutic Gardens – Healing Gardens, are the union of site and process.
Students who want to dedicate themselves to Therapeutic Landscaping should be aware of the sociological, psychological and physical aspects of the relationship between nature and healing. And a strong knowledge of horticulture is advisable, to ensure a healthy plant community.
It is a job to be taken seriously, and not lightly, to research and obviously multidisciplinary.

If there is no space for a garden like these, why not then improve the views a bit? Vertical gardens and canopies can effectively meet this need. If you have any questions about this type of garden, do not hesitate to contact, Click Here .

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