“I’m curious to know if I could access the garden.”
“I was thinking if I can touch the flowers?”
These are just some of the most common questions and comments you’ll hear when you have visitors. Years of conducting therapeutic garden projects in medical and social service settings taught us that simply having a garden isn’t always enough. Most people seek consent, encouragement, and guidance to spend more time in the garden, stimulate their senses, and participate in hands-on backyard tasks.
When you expose garden guests to scents and textures or ask whether they can hear the birds, their faces light up with excitement and interest. How can you give everybody who comes to the garden, even when you are in there or not, the same kind of experience?
Signage appears to be the solution to that dilemma. Signs explain things. They encourage participation even if there is no tour guide or program supervisor present.
Ever since the late 1980s, therapeutic gardens have grown, and now there is a significant body of evidence on the numerous health and well-being advantages of devoting time to nature. However, other than suggestions to use navigational signage to lead visitors to the area, you can also incorporate vital information on signs to promote connection.
Signage appears to be a relatively undeveloped method for encouraging participation in therapeutic gardens. The more time you spent in the garden means a more therapeutic effect.
Signs can provide a feeling of autonomy and power. Signs allow people to explore nature at a little cost, giving distraction and healing during difficult times.
Yes, signs can be a “distraction” on the landscape (especially when signs are placed everywhere), but when employed strategically with the sole purpose of enriching the experience, they can be a valuable tool, particularly in gardens designed to provide restorative, enabling, or interactive experiences.
Here are the lists of some ideas to encourage participation with garden signs. You may use a custom metal sign or any type for this purpose.
1. Gesturing at the area
People must be aware that the garden is available and it should also include a way how to access it. If a garden, as well as its gateway, are not easily visible, signage can guide visitors to the garden. Signs as simple as those on an elevator button screen can be effective.
2. Greetings from the garden
A welcome sign allows you to visit and appreciate a garden. This type of sign is visible through transparent glass doors that automatically open when reached.
3. Describing the garden’s function
Why would a hospital have a family garden? What difference does it make? This sign states that the garden was created to achieve goals via fun and amusement, as well as targeted programming. Visitors are informed that the garden is a therapeutic and educational facility and that recreational and social activities are welcomed.
4. Orientation when inside the garden
Bigger gardens are frequently separated into divisions or rooms, some of which have themes. A ‘Meditation Garden sign welcomes guests to enjoy a peaceful environment while also trying to warn them that other guests may be meditating.
Other specialized signage could designate an edible garden, a butterfly garden, a flower garden, a sensual garden, a specific ecology, a children’s play area, and so on. Furthermore, navigation signage placed throughout a big garden can provide guidance and directions on how to exit the place.
5. Providing sensory nourishment
Garden guests may avoid touching plants because they believe they are not intended to, or because they are unsure which plants smell wonderful or which require a light touch of the leaves to release the aroma. There is designed sensory signage to encourage garden visitors to take in the views, sounds, and scents.
Customized signs, such as a ‘Touch me’ sign in a container of soft furry-textured mosses, are also effective.
6. Encouraging visitors to do hands-on gardening
Garden visitors can perform basic garden duties such as watering, weeding, and reaping in some gardens. An encouraging sign tells us that there’s always “some essential job” to be made and that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, may find work.
7. Inviting children to play
With play, children may love gardening or visiting the garden. Nothing beats a designated digging area and a sign with the words “Digging welcome.” Dig simply for the purpose of digging or searching for bugs and hidden treasure.
8. Indicating ownership and concern
When a homeowner owns a private plot or box, getting a sign identifying ownership that informs visitors that they are not permitted to grow in that spot is a wise idea. Some of the advantages include pride in their ownership, a sense of connection, satisfaction from caring for their own plants, and artistic participation in the broader garden. Some homeowners notice these signs and request their own containers.
Sensory stimulation, hands-on growing, play, exercise, contemplation, and, significantly, coming to the garden and beginning to feel welcomed to spend time there are all signals that stimulate involvement in a garden.
Which type of signs do you want to install in your garden to give the visitors a nudge to participate more fully?