Universal design and gardens

A public garden with brightly coloured flowers and plants set around a water feature. Community and botanical gardens are a place of relaxation and enjoyment. They provide an opportunity to experience nature. There are many physical and mental health benefits to experience nature.  Applying universal design principles in the planning a design process allows many more people to enjoy the benefits of a public garden. The American Society of Landscape Architects lists some important aspects to consider:

    • Frequent, flexible seating with arm and back rests throughout the garden. Seating that is light enough to be used encourages social engagement.
    • An obvious inclusion is to limit the level changes, but where they are necessary they should be well signed with multi-sensory wayfinding.
    • Toilets are a must and should be located within easy line of sight, not hidden. Clear signage throughout the garden is also a must.
    • Secluded areas are also helpful, not just for people with autism or other cognitive conditions, but for private contemplation. 

There’s more on the ASLA website on this topic with some useful case studies.