Five Easy Pieces to Design a Wellness Garden

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At Garden Therapy, we?re big believers in the healing power of gardens as well as big fans of gardener extraordinaire Shawna Coronado, so of course, we are super excited about her book which is all about healing in the garden. Today, Shawna has been kind enough to share cool spot 11x11 popup gazebo tent instant with mosquito netting outdoor gazebo canopy shelter with 121 square feet of shade beige_700053 us her tips on designing a wellness garden at home. Be sure to check out her book for a ton of other information about designing, planting, and healing in the garden.

Step into a wellness garden

Five Easy Pieces to Design a Wellness Garden

By Shawna Coronado

You do not have to be ill or in pain to discover the benefits of a therapeutic garden. You need merely step into the garden to feel its positive effects on your physical and mental health.

While a large or commercial therapeutic garden at a facility might be formally designed and structured by horticultural therapy design professionals, it is definitely possible for you to assemble your own less formal design for your patio, walls, or balcony using a little common sense and intuition.

You can bring wellness to your home garden without a whole new garden design. All you need is to incorporate a few simple ideas to make your current home garden into a more therapeutic space.

how to add elements of wellness to the home garden

Bringing more wellness into the garden is usually a collaborative effort. Bring your family and neighbors together and define what it is that you want from the garden. Make a list of the three top items which are most important to you based on your health concerns, then incorporate that simplified list into the final design. Once the basic goals are understood, then it is possible to prioritize design features such as fountains, pathway needs, and types of plants to be used in the garden.

For backyard or side gardens, unify the areas by including hardscaping?paths, patios, and seating areas, for example?that your planting beds will surround. Once you have determined your hardscape and bed design, then consider adding some plants with texture, shape, variety, color, aroma?anything that adds therapeutic value.

How to create a therapeutic garden at home

1. Use Fewer Chemicals

One surefire way to add an element of wellness to your garden is to do nothing! Simply leave your garden natural and don?t add any products that contain chemicals. All healing gardens should be organic in nature and have non-toxic plants so that all guests can feel safe and be encouraged to touch anything.

Having a garden that is organic is also important so that it is environmentally friendly. Use natural materials in your garden area which will promote health and are safe for the environment. Materials like pots or edging should not be treated with chemicals. This attentiveness to safety in a garden area where people will be touching, smelling, and consuming plants is critical for wellness.

5 easy ways to make your home garden more therapeutic

2. Conserve Water

Again, make it easier on yourself. Grow drought-tolerant plants and only water when you need to. While it is acceptable to plant a garden which might be a water waster, it makes sense for ease of maintenance and the environment to build a garden that has lower water requirements. Use a drip system and place plants with similar water requirements together.

3. Functionality is Key

Your garden should address specific healing needs and accommodate and support any limitations gardeners or garden visitors might have. While having a beautiful or visually pleasing garden is important, make sure that your garden design is functional. For example, provide wide and open pathways, have plants that address the specific needs of the garden visitor, and make sure that the garden is safe for visitors and gardeners.

A yoga garden for wellness

in Austin, Texas has this beautiful yoga garden, complete with a spacious platform with plenty of room for sun salutations.

4. Keep it Easy to Manage

Having an elaborate or difficult-to-maintain garden will countermand your basic need to have a garden that is enjoyable. Create a garden design that is easy to look after and sustain.

Create a wellness garden at home


5. Be Money-Wise

Plot your expenses for the garden to keep your design cost-effective. With smart planning you can reduce, reuse, and recycle garden art, pathway material, and garden furniture to keep costs down. It is not necessary to build the Taj Mahal in your backyard: keep it small and effective.

Printed with permission from   by Shawna Coronado, ? 2017. Published by Cool Springs Press. Photography ? Shawna Coronado 2017.

About the Author

Shawna Coronado is an author, columnist, blogger, photographer, and spokesperson for organic gardening, culinary preparation, and green living who campaigns for social good. Shawna?s goal in authoring gardening and green lifestyle books is to promote a world initiative to encourage healthy and sustainable living. Shawna was featured as a Chicago Tribune ?Remarkable Woman? and speaks internationally on building community, simple urban garden living, and green lifestyle tips for the everyday person. Shawna lives in the western suburbs of Chicago where she has a famous front-lawn vegetable garden. You can learn more about her at 

More from Shawna:

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I?m a big believer in hand washing as the best way to ward off colds and the flu. If I don?t find myself in a place where I can wash my hands, then I?m glad to have this all-natural hand sanitizer made with aloe vera, witch hazel and Thieves Oil. Store-bought hand sanitizers usually contain alcohol, artificial fragrance, and lab-created ingredients.

I don?t know about you, but putting those ingredients on my skin sure doesn?t make me feel clean and studies have shown them to be harmful. This natural hand sanitizer recipe packs a big punch at cleaning while softening my hands and keeping them free from unnecessary chemicals.A more natural recipe for hand sanitizer using aloe, witch hazel, and Thieves oil that's soft on skin.

First, When to Use Hand Sanitizer.

If you have come to this recipe looking for an antibacterial hand sanitizer to kill off viruses, please be sure to read this first. 

You may have recently visited health care facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, and noticed the pumps of antibacterial hand sanitizer attached to the wall at the entrance and exits. It?s an easy way for people to be mindful of the germs they are bringing in with them and help them to stop the spread to those who are vulnerable.

There are usually also sinks with soap at healthcare facilities, but the soap is often also antibacterial. I don?t use antibacterial products in my home as even the But when I am in these medical facilities, I always follow the protocol to prevent the spread of disease so I will use it in that case.

Everything in moderation, right?

The rest of the time, I opt to wash my hands with soap and water. Studies show that bar soap is as effective at washing away germs as any antibacterial product. Even more, a states that the ingredients in antibacterial hand wash ?are not generally recognized as safe and effective?.

Unfortunately, a sink with running water and a bar of soap doesn?t come in one of those handy dandy squeeze bottles like hand sanitizer does.

When I can?t wash with soap, I use an all-natural hand sanitizer to ?wash? my hands and then rinse them when I get near a sink again. I keep a bottle in my purse for when I get off transit, am at a campsite and there is no sink, or I?m just out and about for the day.

Updated March 13, 2020: This recipe was originally published in 2015 and has been a staple in my household and many others for years now. In the past month, the world has become much more aware of hand washing and sanitation due to the spread of Covid-19. While this recipe and my recommendations for proper hand washing from 2015 remain unchanged, In addition, I have formulated a 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer that can be used on hands and surfaces. Get the recipe here:

The Thieve?s Oil Legend and Safe Use

You may have heard about Thieves Oil, an essential oil blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and . The story behind this blend is that a band of fifteenth-century thieves remained in tip-top health despite ransacking the riches from the graves of those who had died from the bubonic plague.

When they were captured, they were traded leniency in their sentence for sharing the secret to their impervious health. The legend of Thieves Oil was born.

Whether you believe the story or not, I personally prefer a homemade product over one filled with ingredients I don?t recognize. Hand sanitizer is one of those products that I love to have a more natural version of.

Please note that essential oils are potent and can be harmful to some. There is much misinformation out there around essential oils as miracle cures for all sorts of ailments and irresponsible use (like consuming essential oils). Also it?s important to look at the blend of oils you use.

Thieves Oil contains clove, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils which are not safe for use on small children. Use this hand sanitizer on grown-ups only, please. You can replace clove, rosemary and eucalyptus oils with lavender, sweet orange, and fir oils if you plan to use it around children six months and older (no essential oils are recommended for use with babies younger than six months).

You can buy a or make your own from this recipe.

Thieves Oil Blend Recipe 

  • 10 drops of
  • 9 drops of
  • 5 drops of
  • 4 drops of
  • 3 drops of

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe

This homemade recipe is easy to make and can be carried anywhere. Think of it like a bar of soap to go! Aloe vera and witch hazel are wonderful for your skin as well, so it won?t dry out your hands like the alcohol based version.  How to make all-natural hand sanitizer Makes 1 cup


  • 1/3 cup
  • 2/3 cup 100% pure
  • 15 drops  or (5 drops of , 4 drops of , 3 drops of , 2 drops of , 1 drop of )
  • 1 capsule of

DIY Hand Sanitizer recipe

Make it!

Mix witch hazel and aloe vera gel together in a bowl. Add essential oils and mix well, then open the vitamin E capsule and empty that into the gel. How to make natural hand sanitizer at home Mix it all together well, then use a funnel to pour it into a pump or other container ().

homemade hand sanitizer with thieves oil

How to Use Natural Hand Sanitizer

Shake the bottle of homemade hand sanitizer well before each use. 

Squeeze a dime-sized amount on the palm of your hand and massage in. I

t will feel sticky at first but it will absorb cleanly in no time.

Your hands will feel dry, clean, and smell terrific.

This all-natural hand sanitizer should last several months.A more natural recipe for hand sanitizer using aloe, witch hazel, and Thieves oil that's soft on skin.

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