Do Landscapes Have Healing Powers?

What is it about the great outdoors  we enjoy? Is it the feeling of freedom, the scents and smells, the beautiful visuals, or is it something else?


According to an article posted by the University of Minnesota, gardens have been used in the healing process for centuries. Think about the numbers of Zen Gardens around the world, or even a Monastic Cloister garden, which was used to separate monks from the rest of the world, giving them a peaceful place to escape. The article states that according to Roger Ulrich, a professor and director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A & M University, viewing natural scenes or elements fosters stress recovery by evoking positive feelings, reducing negative emotions, effectively holding attention / interest, and blocking or reducing stressful thoughts.


Ulrich’s research showed that people are simply more relaxed when they are able to view a beautiful landscape versus an urban scene. Furthermore, patients with views of nature had shorter post-operative stays, fewer negative comments from nurses, took less pain medication and experienced fewer minor post-operative complications than those who did not have a view of nature.


When you think about having your own respite from the stressful world you live in, do you consider the healing powers of landscape architecture? Or are you just hoping for a nice water feature?


“When we meet with clients the first time, we diligently interview them to understand their reasons and goals for having a new landscape design. We delve into all the things that evoke a response, whether it’s a childhood memory or a great vacation,” said Marc Funderburk, LandPatterns founder and president. “We recognize there is much more than the visual aspect of our designs.”


He went on to say,

“When we go out into nature, we find a connection to our roots. You feel comfortable, almost like you have returned home. We want to evoke that same emotion from our landscape designs.”


There are researchers who believe our attraction to nature goes way back to days when he hunted for food, and needed to hide from danger. The shrubs and trees, plus the natural alignment of the landscape, provided shelter and food, making us feel safe.


Today, we don’t have to hunt for our food in the same way, and while we have options of where to live, most of us do not choose a cave. And yet we flock to botanical gardens for some respite from our busy lives, seemingly to enjoy some beautiful scenery, but perhaps there is more to it.


A Boost from the Senses

Snip20160315_18When we venture out, whether it’s into a large national forest or the serene environment of our own backyard, there is more than just a visual response. All of your senses are awakened and responding to the environment.


“We recognize that different plants, materials and designs have strong signatures that trigger a reaction in the brain. Whether that is a pleasant reminder from childhood or the soothing smell of a favorite flower, we take a look at how the landscape we build will impact the psyche, how it will create an experience, for our clients,” said Marc. “We go beyond the functional aspects to look at what the garden has to offer our clients in a more cerebral, psychological way.”


There are several considerations when designing landscapes and gardens using more of an environmental psychology approach. For example, in addition to the “lay of the land,” drainage, and sunlight, the LandPatterns team also considers:


Visual impact – do you find it personally pleasing to the eye?

Smell – do you receive joy when you are able to smell the flowers and shrubs used?

Sound – is a water feature that reminds you of a babbling brook from your childhood important for your overall enjoyment?

Tactility – can you touch the materials, running your fingers along the edge of a stone wall or picking up river rocks, and get a pleasant sensation?


“Every material, every plant, every feature is part of the overall garden experience and increases the positive effect,” said Marc. “We ensure that when you enter your garden or new landscaped area that it is relaxing and washes away the stresses from your day. We want you to have a healing experience.”


How does the LandPatterns team ensure you actually have this experience?


“We take a sensory inventory, learning everything from the colors you like, what smells you enjoy most, what sounds you like best, and what other items might create a positive stimulus,” said Marc. “We realize that there is that functional aspect, such as an outdoor kitchen or media room. We just want to ensure our clients have both the functionality they want and the sensory experience they need to truly enjoy the space.”


LandPatterns is currently accepting a few new clients who are looking to really enjoy their outdoor space through inspired landscape architecture, and who desire that oasis that provides an amazing experience. To learn more about how we develop a unique garden for you, contact us by either filling out our web form or calling us at 214-219-3993.

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