Healing Gardens: Therapeutic by Design

Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton has a 3,000-square-foot rooftop garden that serves its oncology department.  image: Hafs Epstein Landscape Architecture
Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton has a 3,000 square-foot rooftop garden that serves its oncology department.
image: Hafs Epstein Landscape Architecture

Do you think all gardens are therapeutic? Can a “healing garden” be harmful?

Gardens with particular characteristics have been shown to have positive effects in health outcomes, primarily through the facilitation of stress reduction, but the answer is that many gardens are not therapeutic, and some gardens may actually increase stress levels in humans.

Stress can lead to several adverse health outcomes and should be ameliorated by design, so why do some (even award-winning) healing gardens fail? The article “Not all healing gardens deliver as advertised,” published on DJC.com, provides three general principles that are essential for gardens to provide positive results, and list several factors that limit the benefits gardens can provide.

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