Design for health

When you design your garden, think of a quiet, private, enclosed place, even in a busy backyard.

Home landscapes offer a place to gather with family and friends, a safe place for children to play and a personal, quiet respite from the stresses of life. They offer opportunities for physical exercise, which can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, and places for mental restoration, which can reduce the risk of hypertension, mental fatigue and irritability. Plants in a home landscape cleanse the air we breathe, removing pollutants that trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses and foster habitat for wildlife that provide other benefits.

How They Compare

Unsustainable Landscape Sustainable Landscape What Can I Do?
Often treated with synthetic pesticides and volatile organic compounds. Use natural resources and materials to protect a health environment for plants, animals and people. Integrated Pest Management
Limit toxins in your landscape
Are sometimes designed without opportunities for physical exercise in mind. Provide for opportunities to spend time in nature, which can reduce stress and improve emotional and physical well-being. Design for well-being
Outdoor fixtures waste energy and create light pollution Well thought lighting and planning provide better dark skies environments for nocturnal wildlife. Reduce light pollution

Why is human health and well-being management important?

Studies demonstrate that the contact with nature afforded by gardens can reduce stress and improve overall health and well-being. Our gardens and home landscapes are where many of us have our only daily contact with outdoor, natural environments. This connection to the larger web of life is especially important to the more than 80 percent of Americans who live and work in highly urbanized areas of towns and cities, because even brief interludes in natural settings are mentally restorative, helping people get back on track with work. Also, physical activity and exercise can improve mental health by reducing feelings of depression and anxiety and promoting psychological well-being.

The role of a sustainable landscape in human health

Gardens and home landscapes provide spaces that are away from distractions, such as noise from mechanical systems, building and facility operations, even traffic. These spaces create a comforting sense of enclosure, and vegetation can break, guide, deflect, or filter the noise and other less desirable environmental conditions, like excessive winds or prolonged sun exposure. Gardens and home landscapes also enhance a multi-sensory aesthetic experience, such as a grove of trees, water features, diverse scents and textures from flowers and foliage or places for art.

  • Broad-leaved trees reduce noise more than conifers.
  • Creative, meandering pathways maximize on-site physical activity.
  • Implementing a food-producing garden can minimize one’s exposure to pesticide residues found on most conventionally grown, store-bought produce.
  • Permanent and temporary art installations promote visual and aesthetic interest throughout the garden or home landscape.