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Horticultural Therapy


Gardens have been considered healing places since ancient times - Social and Therapeutic Horticulture puts a name to the process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirit of those people for all ages, backgrounds and abilities. The terms Horticultural Therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture are commonly used and have some differences in how they are implemented. You may also see terms such as Healing Gardens, Nature-based therapy, Barrier Free Gardens, Enabling Gardens and Accessible Gardens.


Horticultural Therapy is the process of working with people (usually called clients) using horticultural activities that is facilitated by a trained therapist and aims to achieve specific and documented goals. Some people who use horticultural therapy as their main therapeutic medium call themselves Horticultural Therapists.

Therapeutic Horticulture is a process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirit of people with all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Involvement can be active or passive.

Some examples of Horticultural Therapy in practice:

An occupational therapist working in a rehabilitation hospital uses activities such as planting seeds and watering pot plants to help stroke patients work towards their fine and gross motor goals.

Jan attends a day centre where she has a specific social goal to be able to hold a conversation with someone for 5 minutes. She achieves this goal through the activity of potting on in a group around a shared table with encouragement from her therapist.



Some examples of Therapeutic Horticulture in practice:

A landscape designer designs gardens in a dementia-specific facility with the access and psycho-social needs of people with dementia at the centre of the design. Design features may include plants of reminiscence, specific areas for people to sit and enjoy the landscape and areas for family and friends to be included.

An activities officer takes clients of a facility to a green space for an outing.

Anna visits and maintains her plot at the community garden it provides her with gentle exercise, fresh organic produce and social interaction with other community members.

A busy office environment implements Therapeutic Horticulture by bringing pot plants into the space for the well-being of workers and enhancement of air quality.

A building development ensures that residents will have good access to green spaces.



Learn more about Horticultural Therapy on the American Horticultural Society's webpage.

Want to gain skills in Horticultural Therapy? Check out our Training Opportunities page and come to one of our Events.












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Horticultural Therapy Society of NSW Incorporated ¦ ABN: 50 499 802 321 
ACNC registered charity endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient