According to the definition provided by Hussein, a sensory garden is a garden where all components are carefully designed to provide maximum sensory stimulation (2011). The aim of these gardens is to heighten our awareness of our interaction with nature through our senses. This definition of a sensory garden encompasses awareness of all aspects of the garden, both vegetative and hardscape elements. The hardscape elements to be included in therapeutic gardens, including sensory gardens, are as important as the vegetative elements because they become an integral part of the overall experience. For example, paths, walls, seating and signage all allow access, inclusivity and interactivity within the garden.
Sensory gardens should be designed with a careful attention to detail, considering each of the five traditional senses, as well as the less well-recognised senses that may be impaired with a number of medical conditions. The five traditional senses are:
Each of these senses can be stimulated and the sensory experience heightened by a sensory garden, but for some individuals and groups with conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or sensory integration dysfunction (SID), sensory garden designers should be especially cognisant of stimulating the vestibular and proprioceptive systems.