Therapeutic Benefits of Gardens in Health Care Facilities

Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces
Clare Cooper Marcus, Naomi A Sachs (Book – 2013)
Therapeutic Landscapes focuses critical attention on the design and creation of landscapes that promote health and well-being, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based design to meet the needs of specific patient populations, as well as those of visitors and staff. It presents an overview of healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes from planning to post-occupancy evaluation and offers guidelines on which landscape architects, healthcare administrators, and funders to base their decisions. Read more

Actions Underway — Healthcare Providers (free download)
J.E. Anderson (2014) Section 1 of Improving human health by increasing access to natural areas: linking research to action at scale
(also free download)

This chapter outlines some of the collaborations already underway between health and con- servation organizations – at the hospital, neighborhood, and regional scales. It is intended to start outlining a “menu” of ways that conservation organizations can consider reaching out to health care providers in their communities to explore possible collaborations. Read more

RESTORATIVE GARDEN DESIGN: Enhancing wellness through healing spaces  (free download)
M. Susan Erickson (Journal of Art and Design Discourse) June 2012 no.2 89-102.
Current research from a variety of academic disciplines reveals that contact with nature provides stress reduction, which in turn leads to improved health outcomes. This research leads to additional questions—what kind of contact with nature? How much? Are there certain types of plants which are more therapeutic than others? Read more

A Nature Place — Portland, OR: Quantifying Benefits of a Healing Garden among Hospital Populations (website 2013)
Legacy Health is combining its traditional medical expertise with the healing power of open green spaces to create a four-season garden at the Family Birth Center and Cardiovascular Care Unit at its Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. Patients and their families will be able to walk through and rest in the garden, adding to their peace of mind and rebuilding their strength. There will even be special equipment to make sure less-mobile patients — such as pregnant women on bed rest and patients with reduced mobility — can spend time outside. Read more...

Legacy Health’s Garden Research: Therapeutic Gardens
(website 2013)

Legacy Health: Benefits of Healing Gardens
(website 2013)

When asked how to get mainstream healthcare to pay attention to healing gardens, Ulrich underscored the importance of having well-designed gardens and using evidence to demonstrate the reduction in cost in patient care and further, how gardens can even improve revenue, e.g. a staff member or a patient with two options may choose the one with the garden over the one without.  In sharing this perspective, Ulrich emphasized the need for more research, such as that taking place at Legacy Health. Read more

Healing Landscapes – The website of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network: The resource for gardens and landscapes that promote health and well-being

Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations (edited volume) 1999
Clare Cooper Marcus, Marni Barnes (Editors) Wiley Publishing
…Historical information, literature reviews, and studies on use are included for each type of outdoor space covered, offering important insights into what works in healing gardens-and what doesn’t.
Generously supplemented with photographs, site plans, anecdotes, and more, Healing Gardens is an invaluable practical guide for landscape architects and others involved in creating and maintaining medical facilities, and an extremely useful reference for those responsible for patient care. Read more

(report, free download) 1995
by Clare Cooper Marcus and Marni Barnes

…When we started to visit hospitals, we were surprised to find few that had outdoor spaces, and where we found some that did, the staff at the information desk frequently had no knowledge of the garden or its location. Read more

Centre for Sustainable Healthcare‘s comprehensive repository of evidence of therapeutic benefits of gardens and trees
Gardening Leave (UK) uses horticultural therapy to support our troubled veterans on their journey to good health and their transition to civilian life. We offer professionally conducted, individualised, goal-oriented treatment sessions to maximise a veteran’s physical, psychological and social strength, and enhance general health and wellbeing.

The CMHA Grey Bruce Experience: Community Gardening as Part of the Therapeutic Process and to Provide Employment

LettuceGrow blog on mental health and gardening


Resources on the benefits of gardens / on-site food production

From ChangeLab Solutions comes Dig, Eat, and Be Healthy: A Guide to Growing Food on Public Property (pdf)

Growing food on public property – from vacant fields, to schoolyards, parks, utility rights-of-way,  and even the rooftops of public buildings – can yield a diverse crop of community benefits. Fresh, healthy food is just the beginning: growing food on public property can also promote civic participation, public safety, food literacy, job skills, and urban greening – in short, healthier, more vibrant places. This guide provides users with the tools they need to access public land for growing food. Read more


Farm to Cafeteria’s selection of reports and other publications at

Twiss, J., Dickinson, J., Duma, S., Kleinman, T., Paulsen, H., & Rilveria, L. (2003). Community gardens: Lessons learned from California healthy cities and communities. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1435-1438.



George DR, Rovniak LS, Kraschnewski JL, Morrison KJ, Dillon JF, Bates BY. (2010). Medical Center Farmers Markets: A Strategic Partner in the Patient-Centered Medical Home. Prev Chronic Dis, 10:130105. DOI: or