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How to Create a Sensory Garden in Your Urban Space

As more of us spend more time in our urban homes, the idea of having a sensory garden in our own backyard has become a reality. As urban dwellers, we are often denied access to nature, so a sensory garden can be a great way to bring the outside in. A sensory garden is designed to stimulate all five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste – and can be created in even the smallest of urban spaces. From climbing plants to edible herbs, there are a few key elements to consider when creating the perfect sensory garden. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to create a sensory garden in an urban environment, with tips and advice on what to plant and how to make the most of your space.

Identify the Available Space

When creating a sensory garden in an urban space, it’s important to know the size of the area and take into account the amount of sun and shade the area receives. You should also consider what type of soil the garden space has and what types of plants will thrive in that location. If the soil is poor quality, you can amend it to provide nutrients to the plants.

Explore Sensory Garden Ideas

Do some research on sensory gardens to inspire your ideas. Consider elements such as paths, seating, wind chimes, birdbaths, and birdhouses. You can also look for plants that have special appeal for the senses, such as plants with fragrant flowers or foliage, plants with appealing textures, and plants with colorful blooms.

Choose Plants for Your Sensory Garden

Once you have chosen a spot for your garden and have done some research, choose plants that will bring the garden to life. Consider choosing plants with a variety of shapes, textures, and colors. You can also pick plants that provide scent, such as roses, lavender, and jasmine. Choose plants that bloom at different times of the year to ensure blooms throughout the season.

Furnish Your Urban Garden

To make your sensory garden more inviting, add comfortable seating and other elements. Place benches, chairs, and tables to create a relaxing atmosphere. Add birdbaths and birdhouses to provide a habitat for feathered friends. Wind chimes and statues can give the garden a magical touch. The key is to create an inviting atmosphere that encourages relaxation and contemplation.

Maintain Your Sensory Garden

To keep your garden looking its best, it’s important to maintain it. Regularly water your plants and remove weeds. Fertilizing your plants a few times a year will help keep them vibrant and healthy. Pruning dead or overgrown branches will help keep plants looking neat. With proper maintenance, your sensory garden will thrive and bring a tranquil atmosphere to your urban space.

Choose Sensory Stimuli

Creating a sensory garden in an urban space requires careful planning. Here are some things to consider when choosing sensory stimuli:

Climate and Location

The first step is to assess the climate and location of your garden. If you’re planning an outdoor garden, check the climate of your area and determine if your plants will thrive in it. It’s also important to think about how much sunlight and water your garden will receive and how you will have to modify your plants to suit your climate. If you are creating an indoor garden, consider factors such as ventilation and artificial lighting.

Types of Sensory Stimuli

When it comes to sensory stimuli for your garden, there are a few different elements to choose from. Visual stimuli are the most common and include items such as flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs. You can also choose to add plants that produce sensory-rich fragrances. Tactile stimuli can be used to create an inviting atmosphere in your garden, such as a water feature or a pathway made of pebbles or gravel. Auditory stimuli can also be used to create a pleasant atmosphere and attract wildlife; for example, wind chimes or a small fountain.

Nature-Inspired Design

When designing your sensory garden, it’s important to create a space that’s both inviting and calming. Look to nature for inspiration and create a space that resembles a natural habitat. Consider incorporating natural features such as rocks, wood chips, and water features. You can add bird baths and nesting boxes to attract wildlife, or you can incorporate edible plants to provide a food source.

Safety Considerations

Safety is an important consideration when creating a sensory garden. Be mindful of potential hazards and take measures to ensure the space is secure and safe to use. Consider fencing off the area if necessary and make sure that any dangerous plants or elements in the garden (such as a pond or a slippery pathway) are clearly signposted.

Consider Plant Variety

When creating a sensory garden in an urban space, the first step is to choose a variety of plants. Consider plants with different colors, textures, scents, and sounds. Choose native flowers, ornamental grasses, and trees with vibrant leaves and bark. Add plants with fragrant flowers, foliage, and bark that can be enjoyed all year round. Consider using plants with different growth habits like evergreens, climbers, and groundcovers. To create a full sensory experience, you can also choose plants with edible fruits, leaves, and flowers.

Choose Plants That Thrive in Your Climate

When selecting plants for your sensory garden, it is important to choose plants that will thrive in your climate. Consider the temperature range and amount of light your space receives in order to determine what plants will grow well. You should also research how much water and maintenance each plant requires, in order to ensure it will thrive in your particular space.

Include Colorful and Unusual Plants

When creating your sensory garden, try to include colorful and unusual plants. Look for plants with bright and vibrant flowers, berries, and foliage. Consider using plants with unusual foliage, like succulents and ornamental grasses. For scent, you can choose plants with fragrant flowers, such as lavender, and plants with aromatic foliage, such as rosemary. The key to creating an interesting sensory garden is to choose plants that will surprise and delight.

Choose Pollinator Friendly Plants

When creating a sensory garden, it is important to choose plants that are attractive to pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. Pollinators are essential for the ecosystem and can help your plants to thrive. Consider choosing native plants, as these are usually more attractive to pollinators. You can also add bee and butterfly houses to your garden to help attract more pollinators.

Pick Plants That Are Easy to Care For

When creating a sensory garden in an urban space, it is important to choose plants that are easy to care for. Consider plants that are drought and heat tolerant and require minimal maintenance. Look for plants that will survive with minimal watering and can tolerate urban conditions. Also, consider plants with low maintenance requirements, such as perennials, grasses, and succulents.

Prepare the Soil

Creating the right environment for your sensory garden is essential. To ensure the success of your garden, choose a soil mix that is nutrient-rich and specifically suited to the plants you are growing. Plant roots need soil that is well aerated, contains a plentiful supply of microorganisms, and is able to retain and distribute water and nutrients evenly.

Testing and Amending Your Soil

To ensure the best possible results, test your soil’s pH, nutrient levels and salinity using a soil testing kit. This is an important step to take as it will help you understand the requirements of your chosen plants and how to amend your soil to suit them.

Removing Weeds

Weeds compete with plants for resources and can drastically reduce the growth of your plants. Therefore, it is important to remove any weeds or competing plant life that may be growing in your soil before you plant. You can do this either by hand or by spraying the ground with a weed killer.

Adding Organic Matter

Adding organic matter to the soil helps to improve it and make it more hospitable for your plants. Good sources of organic matter include compost, manure, garden clippings and leaf litter. As well as adding nutrients to the soil, organic matter will help it retain moisture – essential for the smaller plants in your sensory garden that may not be able to access deeper water sources.

Aerating the Soil

Compacted soil can make it difficult for plants to access water and nutrients, so it is important to aerate the soil prior to planting. To do this, simply work a garden fork through the soil, making sure it is turned over several times. This will not only help to allow aeration, but it will also help to improve drainage and reduce the risk of waterlogged soil.

Install Water Features

Creating a sensory garden in an urban space can be an interesting way to explore and experience the outdoors. Water features are one way to add sound and visual stimulation to a garden and create a sense of tranquility. Installing water features in a garden allows for a calming auditory background and can bring in more wildlife. In order to install water features, one should consider the size of the space, water supply, and the type of water feature desired.

Choose the Right Water Feature

When choosing a water feature, always consider the size of the area available and the layout of the garden. Look for water features that work within the design while also adding to the beauty of the garden. A water fountain, a pond, a waterfall, or even a small pool, can all add to the visual appeal. If there is a limited budget, utilizing DIY water features is an option and there are many tutorials online.

Running Water Source

For a water feature to function, it must have a running water source. Homemade water features usually require manual refilling. Natural water sources can be used to create a pond, such as by digging a hole, filling with water, and adding aquatic plants. This is the most cost-effective way to create a water feature. If using plumbing, a municipal water source or a water storage tank is necessary to connect the water feature.

Choose Appropriate Plants

Once the water feature has been installed, it is time to choose the appropriate plants. Plants that thrive in water include irises, water lilies, water chestnuts, marsh marigolds, water celery, and other wetland plants. The plants chosen should complement the aquatic space, provide cover and food for wildlife, and add greenery and color to the garden. Ensure the water feature is well lit to get the most out of the plants.

Care and Maintenance

It is important to keep the water features in a good state of repair in order to avoid stagnating water and potential mosquito problems. Regular cleaning of the water feature is essential and should be done with a brush and a vacuum. During the colder months, the water should be drained to prevent freezing, and the electrical components should be disconnected if possible.

By incorporating water features, a sensory garden in an urban space can be filled with tranquility and beauty. With the right design, plants, and maintenance, a sense of peace and relaxation will be able to be found in the garden.

Incorporate Structural Elements

For those with a desire to create a sensory garden in their urban space, incorporating structural elements into the design can act as a great way to add aesthetic appeal. Structural elements, such as fences, trellises, walkways, terraces, and hedges, create a sense of order and provide definition and structure to a garden. Additionally, they provide a useable space for a variety of plants and activities.

When choosing structural elements for a sensory garden, be sure to choose materials that are able to withstand the elements. Durability is key when selecting materials for a sensory garden, as it will be exposed to different weather conditions and temperature changes. Stone, brick, or concrete pavers are great options for creating boundaries and walkways. Iron or wood fences are also great options for adding visual interest as well as a touch of privacy.

Use Pergolas To Create Shade and Divide Spaces

Pergolas can serve as an excellent way to create a shaded area and divide spaces in a sensory garden. Planting a climbing vine or other fast-growing plants can provide a lovely canopy and will add interest to the garden. Pergolas can also act as a support for hanging planters or other decorative elements.

Add Seating Areas For Comfort and Functionality

Adding seating areas to a sensory garden provides a place to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the garden. Seating can range from simple benches to more elaborate pieces such as hammocks or Adirondack chairs. Incorporating seating into the garden can provide a great way to rest and relax or to entertain guests.

Incorporate Lighting for a Magical Feel

Lighting elements can help create a magical atmosphere in the garden and can also help guide visitors from one area to another. Strings of outdoor lights, outdoor lamps, and wall-mounted fixtures can all be used to add a soft and inviting feel to a sensory garden. Be sure to choose lighting that is designed for outdoor use and is water-resistant.

By incorporating structural elements into your sensory garden, you can create a functional and aesthetically pleasing space for both you and your guests. Take the time to plan out your design and choose materials that are durable and able to withstand the elements. With a bit of creativity and careful planning, you can turn your urban space into a sensory garden that is both inviting and magical.

Minimise Pests

Creating a sensory garden in your urban space can be a wonderful way to bring nature into your city lifestyle. However, without proper pest management, pests and diseases can threaten the health of your sensory garden. To ensure you get the most out of your urban sensory garden, it is important to be aware of and manage pest infestations.

Inspect Plants Regularly

The first step in controlling pests is to regularly inspect plants for signs of disease or damage. Look for discoloured or wilted leaves, small holes in leaves, and evidence of insect pests. Treating pests early is the best way to keep your plants healthy.

Choose Resistant Plants

Before planting your sensory garden, choose plants that are known to be resistant to disease and insect pests. This can help reduce the need for chemical sprays and will make it easier to maintain your garden over time.

Use Organic Insecticides and Fungicides

If you do find pest problems in your garden, it is best to use organic treatments such as insecticidal soap, neem oil, or beneficial insects. These treatments are less toxic and more environmentally friendly than chemical sprays.

Discourage Pests

Creating an environment that does not welcome pests is the most effective way to prevent pest infestations. To discourage pests, create barriers such as barriers of gravel or mulch around your plants. Avoid over-watering, which can attract pests, and keep the garden clean of debris and weeds.

Manage Soil Conditions

Healthy soil is key to a pest-free garden. Make sure the soil is well-draining and has enough organic matter to provide necessary nutrients to your plants. Avoid soil compaction, which can disrupt drainage and create an ideal environment for pests.

Choose the Right Plants

When selecting plants for your sensory garden, consider the environment they will be grown in. Choose plants that are well-suited to the local climate, soil type, and available sunlight. This will make it easier to keep pests away and ensure your plants are healthy.

Creating a sensory garden in your urban space can be a great way to bring nature into your daily life. To ensure your garden is healthy, it is important to identify and control pest infestations. By regularly inspecting plants for signs of damage, using organic treatments, discouraging pests, and managing soil conditions, you can reduce the risk of pest infestations and enjoy a beautiful urban garden.

Final Touches

Creating a sensory garden in your urban space is a great way to bring the beauty of nature into your life. When you have planted the flowers, trees, and other plants, you may want to take a few extra steps to perfect the look. Adding the following accents to your garden can make it even more visually stunning and interesting.

Statues and Ornaments

Statues and ornaments are a wonderful way to add a unique touch to your garden. Whether it’s a brightly-colored ceramic gnome or a smooth stone statue, these pieces can make it look whimsical and beautiful. You can even choose pieces that are scented so they fill your garden with additional aromas.


Lighting is a great way to extend the use of your garden into the evening hours. You can light pathways and garden edges to create a unique and visually stunning atmosphere. If you would like to attract nocturnal wildlife, you can also add a few strategically-placed night lights which will brighten up the area without scaring off the animals.

Seating Areas

Creating seating areas will help you to enjoy the beauty of your sensory garden. Include comfortable chairs or benches and tables so that you and your family can relax and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your garden. Throw in some blankets for extra comfort for those chilly nights.

Garden Art and Décor

Adding garden art and décor is a great way to add a touch of your own personality to your garden. Hanging metal wind chimes, colorful pinwheels, and nature-inspired wall art are all nice ways to give your space an extra pop of life.

By incorporating these final touches into your sensory garden, you can transform your urban space into an oasis of beauty, enjoyment, and relaxation. Enjoy the beauty of nature in your own backyard!

Enjoy the Beauty of Nature

Creating a sensory garden in an urban space is a wonderful way to transform a dull area into a vibrant oasis of color, smell, and sound. By selecting plants that are attractive and produce pleasing scents and textures, as well as incorporate bird feeders, birdbaths and other wildlife-friendly elements, you can create a tranquil and inviting space. Furthermore, by utilizing compost and rain barrels, you can be sure that your plants are getting all the nutrients they need and that you are reducing your environmental footprint. With a little planning and some thoughtful plant selection, you can turn a bare patch of land or a tiny urban balcony into a rich and relaxing garden, giving you a chance to step out of your hectic life and into the calming beauty of nature.

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