HarborChase of Germantown Shares Benefits of Planting a Sensory Garden

Posted By on February 8, 2023

Spring is around the corner; soon, the flowers will bloom, and it will be time to start planning your spring garden. 

If you know someone living with dementia this spring, consider planting a sensory garden. These outdoor areas aren’t just for beautiful views. Instead, they provide an environment designed to uplift visitors and stimulate the five senses, sight, sound, touch, smell, and even taste. 

HarborChase’s Memphis dementia care community promotes a comforting environment of enrichment and support so residents have the tools they need to connect, engage, and continue celebrating each day. Our HarborChase of Germantown team is sharing tips for planting a sensory garden, so you and your loved one can spend meaningful time together creating something beautiful while reaping the therapeutic benefits. 

Benefits of a Sensory Garden

Gardening is an activity that brings joy and fulfillment to people of all ages. There’s nothing more satisfying than designing an imaginative, beautiful garden and watching your plants grow. 

Planting a sensory garden for someone living with dementia can be an uplifting and creative task for the whole family to enjoy by using carefully selected plants. Sensory gardens are meant to be accessible to all, regardless of age, disability, or health. While all gardens provide some sensory experience, these spaces are especially beneficial.

For a person living with dementia, a sensory garden allows them to enjoy a concentration of the five senses; this is especially important when we think about the way dementia affects the five senses. As dementia progresses, so does the loss of sensation, and stimulating each sense can enact positive and therapeutic reactions in those living with dementia by evoking emotions, aiding in relaxation, and providing tangible, intuitive experiences. 

Sensory gardens provide a sense of accomplishment for those living with dementia when given the opportunity to work in the garden; whether they’re gathering a bouquet of flowers or keeping the plants watered, there’s a strong sense of purpose associated with tending to an environment that needs care and nurturing in order to grow. 

Planning Your Sensory Garden

It can take time to figure out where to start when deciding what to plant in your sensory garden. The primary goal is to create a garden that will be fun and evocative to maintain as time goes on, especially as the seasons change. 

A great jumping-off point is to focus on each sense separately and decide which plants, flowers, and garden accessories will contribute best to create a soothing and captivating experience. 


Butterfly Weed: Butterfly Weed grows best in full sun, making it a perennial that can withstand harsh conditions once established. It produces bright, yellow-orange flowers from June to September and is a primary food source for butterflies (especially Monarch butterflies).

Bleeding Heart: Flowering from May to June, Bleeding Hearts produce beautiful pink, red, and sometimes white downward-facing flowers that resemble hearts. 

Sunflowers: Sunflowers produce large, sunny-yellow flowers with a dark center from June to August. These flowers need to be planted in full sun and will eventually attract bees and butterflies, as well as seed-eating animals once the seeds in the center of the flower start to ripen. 


Balloon Flower: From June to August, this plant produces indigo-colored flowers that make a “popping” sound when squeezed; the flowers themselves look as though they’ve been inflated! 

Pigsqueak: The Pigsqueak plant blooms pink flowers from April to May, and its leathery foliage makes a speaking sound when rubbed together. As the weather gets colder in Autumn, the foliage will turn a deep burgundy color. 

The Sound of Water: Consider introducing a garden pond or a waterfall into your sensory garden to enjoy the calming noise of trickling water. For smaller gardens, a freestanding basin (stone or concrete) is a wonderful option. Consider a reflection pool or a natural pond for a more informal look for larger yards.


Lambs’ Ears: Named for their fuzzy leaves, these plants are often used as groundcover, and their leaves provide a soft sensation as it blooms from May to July. 

Sanity Wormwood: This specific wormwood is a short-lived perennial, performing best in full sun and well-drained soil. The leaves of the Sanity Wormwood are fine and wispy, with a silky and smooth texture.

Textured Surfaces: Use smooth, concrete pavers to create a path through your sensory garden for an extra touch sensation; these can be excellent for walking barefoot through the environment. You can also implement certain types of moss throughout the garden for an extra sensation. 


Creeping Thyme: When leaves are rubbed together, they produce a citrusy, balsamic scent that can appeal to the sense of smell. Creeping Thyme performs best in full sun and blooms from June to August. 

Lily-Of-The-Valley: This groundcover plant produces small white flowers in the early spring, producing a sweet scent that will linger throughout your sensory garden. If it has ample moisture, it performs well in full sun, but it’s best to plant Lily-Of-The-Valley in a partly shaded area. 


Herbs: Planting an abundance of herbs in your sensory garden is a great way to appeal to the sense of taste! Consider planting basil, rosemary, thyme, and other favorite herbs. The best part? You can also use these herbs when cooking! 

Chives: Chives are commonly used for their onion flavor in cooking, whether as a garnish or within a dish. They also bloom small, pink flowers from April to May, which appeals to taste and sight.

At HarborChase of Germantown, our Memphis dementia care community is a small, intimate neighborhood with a warm and welcoming feel. We continuously look for new ways to create meaningful experiences for residents and feature welcoming and spacious community areas for individuals to find safety, comfort, and belonging. We invite you to visit our website to learn more about our Tennessee community.