Designing Therapeutic Gardens: Hospital Grounds Maintenance for Patient Rehabilitation

We’ve worked with many Primary Care Trusts in the maintenance of hospital grounds over the years, and we’ve had a chance to work not only in the general more functional areas of gardens and grounds in hospitals, but in therapeutic green spaces also.

For people who visit their loved ones in hospitals, the walk from the car park to the hospital building might have greenery that you only notice in passing as you walk on by.  Similarly, for anyone who has had to make a short-stay in hospital, being able to look out of the window can help you take your mind off the reasons for your stay, so being able to see treetops, or look down over green spaces helps with making your stay more bearable.

Looking after these spaces is a part of the hospital grounds maintenance services we provide, where safety and a neat and tidy appearance is paramount. Over the years we’ve also been involved in creating and maintaining other types of hospital gardens too, and the subject of this blog is a very special type of hospital garden that offers a therapeutic space to patients who are in hospital for long-term conditions.

hospital grounds maintenance

Creating Healing Spaces for Patients' Well-being

In the bustling world of modern medicine, hospitals are constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance patient care and overall well-being. One such approach gaining traction is the design and implementation of therapeutic gardens within hospital grounds. These thoughtfully crafted outdoor spaces not only add to the aesthetics of the hospital but also play a pivotal role in patient rehabilitation and recovery.

There are specialist charities such as Greenfingers, which is a charity that is dedicated to supporting children who spend time in hospices around the UK by creating well-designed outdoor spaces for children to enjoy with their family and friends. Or as another example, there is Horatio’s Garden who create gardens for the enjoyment and therapy of long-term patients in NHS spinal injuries units. Alongside these much larger projects that often have their own ‘head gardener’ attached to them are other therapeutic garden spaces attached to in-patient departments helping people to recover from strokes, brain injuries and other conditions.


The Healing Power of Nature

Nature has a profound impact on our mental and physical well-being. Spending time amidst greenery, flowers, and fresh air can alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and promote a sense of calm and tranquillity. Hospitals, which can often be stressful and overwhelming environments, are recognizing the significance of integrating nature into their facilities. A hospital garden can provide a respite from these stressful stimuli. Creating a psychologically supportive environment help provide a safe place for people – whether they are patients or family of in-patients - to calm down and take in all the benefits nature has to offer.

hospital grounds maintenance


The Role of Therapeutic Gardens in Hospitals

Therapeutic gardens are carefully planned outdoor spaces designed to provide a restorative and healing environment for patients, visitors, and staff. These gardens offer a respite from the clinical and sterile indoor setting, allowing patients to immerse themselves in nature, which can have profound therapeutic effects.


  1. Stress Reduction and Mental Well-being

Hospital stays can be anxiety-inducing and emotionally challenging for patients. Therapeutic gardens offer a sanctuary where patients can momentarily escape their medical conditions and connect with nature. The serene atmosphere helps reduce stress, leading to better emotional well-being and an improved outlook during the recovery process.


  1. Faster Recovery and Improved Health Outcomes

Studies have shown that exposure to natural environments can speed up the healing process and reduce the length of hospital stays. Patients who have access to therapeutic gardens often experience reduced pain perception, leading to a positive impact on their overall health outcomes.


  1. Physical Rehabilitation and Mobility

Therapeutic gardens can be designed with accessibility in mind, allowing patients with limited mobility or those undergoing physical rehabilitation to move freely. The gardens can feature walking paths, handrails, and wheelchair-friendly surfaces, enabling patients to engage in light exercise while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.


  1. Enhanced Mental Focus and Cognitive Restoration

For patients and healthcare professionals alike, spending time in nature can enhance mental focus and cognitive restoration. Taking short breaks in a therapeutic garden can boost productivity and recharge the mind, ultimately leading to better decision-making and overall patient care.


Design Considerations for Therapeutic Gardens

Creating a successful therapeutic garden requires careful planning and attention to various design elements. Some essential considerations include:

  1. Plant Selection: Choose a diverse range of plants, including colourful flowers, aromatic herbs, and textured foliage to engage multiple senses and create an inviting atmosphere.
  2. Seating and Resting Areas: Incorporate comfortable seating and resting spots strategically throughout the garden, allowing patients to relax and reflect.
  3. Safety and Accessibility: Ensure the garden is designed with safety and accessibility in mind, catering to the needs of all patients, including those with mobility challenges.
  4. Sensory Elements: Incorporate water features, wind chimes, and other sensory elements to stimulate various senses and create a multi-dimensional experience.
  5. Privacy and Serenity: Design the garden in a way that provides a sense of privacy, allowing patients to feel at ease while enjoying the natural surroundings.


The Impact on Hospital Grounds Maintenance

Maintaining a therapeutic garden as part of a wider hospital grounds maintenance routine involves ongoing care and attention to detail. It's crucial to partner with experienced grounds maintenance professionals who understand the unique needs of such spaces. Regular pruning, weeding, and seasonal planting are essential to ensure the garden remains vibrant and therapeutic throughout the year.

Safety considerations also need to be borne in mind, that are responsive to the primary needs of the patients who will be using the gardens. Beyond keeping walkways clear and bushes and plants clipped back into their bed space, for gardens that need to be hospital bed or wheelchair friendly, the hard surfaces and pathways need low roll resistance and any structures need thresholds smoothing and levelling to allow unimpeded access.

Where sensitivities to certain plants might pose a problem for some in-patients, care needs to be taken when selecting the correct plants for the garden design. And again, where there are wheelchair users, considering the design of structures and features, and even the growth heights of selected plants to be viewable at wheelchair height helps with the success of a design.


Therapeutic gardens are a testament to the growing recognition of the vital connection between nature and healing. By investing in the design and maintenance of these green havens, hospitals can significantly contribute to the well-being of their patients and create a more holistic approach to healthcare.

As the demand for patient-centric care continues to rise, therapeutic gardens are poised to become an integral part of modern hospital design and grounds maintenance, fostering an environment where healing and rehabilitation can flourish amidst the beauty of nature.


Contact Us

If you are a facilities manager, property or land owner looking for a reliable ground maintenance team for either the renovation of your grounds or a regular maintenance contract, get in touch with us.

Telephone: (0114) 269 9119


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