How to Create a Sensory Garden!

Have you ever heard of a “Sensory Garden”? A Sensory Garden is an area that allows visitors to enjoy a wide variety of sensory experiences. In other words, it’s a garden designed to delight ALL the senses!

Over the years, I unconsciously created my own Sensory Garden… before I even heard the term “Sensory Garden”!

I purchased some plants because of the way they tasted, some because of how they looked, some because of how they smelled, some because of how they felt, and some because of the pollinators they attracted (because I liked how the buzzing of bees sounded).

I’ve always felt deep in my soul that gardens should be a place a delight, a place where form (beauty) and function (practical output) work in harmony.

Gardens should be beautiful and engage all the senses!

“What can your eyes desire to see, your ears to hear, your mouth to taste or your nose to smell that is not to be had in the garden?” - William Lawson, 1618

“What can your eyes desire to see, your ears to hear, your mouth to taste or your nose to smell that is not to be had in the garden?” - William Lawson, 1618

 

Both of my children quite literally grew up in the garden. When we moved to the farm, my kids were both under 5. The garden was the only enclosed area we had, so I would shut the gates and we’d spend hours out there together.

Their days consisted of exploring in the garden all day long, playing with worms, digging holes, making mud pies, chasing cabbage moths, eating berries and picking flowers.

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This summer, the Kent District Library asked me to lead a gardening program for kids, teaching families how to create their OWN Sensory Garden in their backyard!

Over the years, my kids and I have attended many library programs at KDL. What a delight to be able to give back to my library and community!

If you want to attend one of the programs, you can check out the full schedule at:

www.kdl.org

Here is my schedule for the summer! I’ll be presenting the same program at 7 different locations.

Sensory Garden: Learn how to create a delightful sensory experience in your own backyard!

*Tuesday, June 11 2:00 - 3:00 - Byron Township

*Tuesday, June 11 6:00 - 7:00 - Tyrone Township

*Wednesday, June 12 6:30 - 7:30 - Alpine Township

*Tuesday, June 25 10:00 - 11:00 - Plainfield Township

*Tuesday, June 25 1:30 - 2:30 - Alto

*Tuesday, July 16 3:00 - 4:00 - Krause Memorial

*Wednesday, August 7 1:00 - 2:00 - Walker


Unfortunately, I know many of our farm followers live across the country or across the world!

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. :)

Here are some suggestions for you to to get started, no matter where you live!

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Taste

Plant a wide variety of veggies, herbs and even flowers, to sample with your kids.

When kids are involved in the growing process, they are much more likely to enjoy eating fresh, healthy foods!


Here are a few of my favorites!

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Smell

It’s said that the sense of smell evokes the strongest memories. Tap into this sense and create lifelong “scent memories” for your children.

As they grow and age, the scent of these plants will remind them of the time they spent with you in the garden.

I bet you have a “favorite garden scent” that reminds you of someone you love.

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Touch

Kids LOVE to get their hands dirty… and guess what? It’s really, REALLY good for them! Scientists have recently discovered that soil is teeming with microorganisms and bacteria that essentially mimic the effects of anti-depressant medications.

Yes, that’s right - DIRT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

When we get our hands dirty, our bodies absorb these beneficial microbes and they work to make us healthier and happier.

Also worth mentioning is the “Farm Effect”, a series of studies that show kids who grow up on farms (or have ready access to natural areas in which they play) are healthier than kids that spend most of their time indoors.

Let your kids touch the dirt, play with worms and maybe even eat some mud pies. ;)

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Hear

There is nothing more soothing to me than listening to the “hum” of bees, butterflies and other pollinators in my gardens.

There are several ways you can attract more pollinators and birds to your gardens. It’s a win/win situation for everyone! Pollinators get what they need and your gardens will be more productive!

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You can also work with your kids to create a welcoming habitat for pollinators.

Birds and pollinating insects need food, water and shelter, just like we do!

A small dish of water with sticks floating in it will be come a welcome “watering hole” for thirsty pollinators. Simply be sure to refresh the water regularly to avoid creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Mason bee houses can be found at many hardware stores or garden centers. Mason bees are small native bees (that don’t sting!!!) that are INCREDIBLY effective at pollination, vastly outperforming Honeybees! Welcome them to your garden and reap the benefits!

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Another way to add sound to your garden is to purchase or make wind chimes! This could be a fun summer project for you and the kids!

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See

Gardens change every. single. day.

Create a summer routine with your children - walk around the garden every day and point out what is new!

I walk my gardens almost every day, all year round. It’s a fun and engaging way to learn about the cycles of growth, the seasons, nature… and it’s an excellent way to teach children how to use their sense of sight and observation.

It’s also fun to fill the garden with decorations! Personally, I have a deep and abiding love for lawn ornaments (the tackier, the better. Yeah, that right - I have “frogs wearing bikinis” lawn ornaments. HA!), garden decor and fairy gardens.

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Another fun project is making your own painted stones/rocks to decorate your gardens!

My daughter and I checked out a few books from the library, bought a set of paint markers, tracked down some smooth stones and she’s been having so much fun trying new designs. We’re going to have a garden full of pretty stones in no time. ;)


We found the paint pens on Amazon (Artistro Extra Fine Tip) and the stones at Home Depot (Mexican Beach Pebbles).

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You could also:

  • Make a mosaic stepping stone

  • Make a DIY butterfly feeder (check Pinterest for ideas!)

  • Make a fruit feeding station to attract butterflies and birds

  • Put up bird houses

  • Make a fairy garden. My daughter would play in the garden for hours with her little fairies and their furniture! They lived in the “Asparagus Forest”. Ha!

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There you have it! I bet your mind is overflowing with creative ideas and excitement!

Remember, you don’t have to do all of this at once. Pick one sense and figure how to incorporate that sense into your garden this season.

Let me know: What is your favorite “Garden Sense”? What will you add to your garden this season to celebrate that sense?


I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

-Lori