The impact of gardens and landscapes on property value is a common topic, but what about the potential for gardens and outdoor living areas to transform minds, bodies and souls?

Matt Leacy, founder and creative director of Landart Landscapes, put this idea into practice by transforming an atrium for cancer patients at Sydney Adventist Hospital. “We know that gardens and nature can have valuable therapeutic and restorative benefits on people, and we wanted to bring garden elements into the hospital to hopefully assist the physical and mental wellbeing of patients,” says Matt.

Matt believes that anyone can find restorative benefits in outdoor spaces – from reflection and relaxation to tranquillity and healing. He says, it’s about bringing senses alive with different materials, designs, colours, scents and sounds.

“Water is proven to be a very calming element on humans, as such we try and incorporate water into landscape and garden designs where possible.” Matt insists that┬árock pools, fountains, cascading ponds or even waterfalls are good to consider if you’re after a design centrepiece. “In terms of outdoor water features, the biggest asset has to be a pool. They enable swimming, exercise and a cool-down during summer months and pools attract birds and native wildlife – which help to bring sound, energy and ambience to a space.”

He adds, “Plants and flowers can help to bring a sensory garden to life – offering comfort, relaxation and stimuli.” According to Matt, there are different types of plants that appeal to different senses. Textured plants like Lamb’s Ears and Banksias are great for touch, while frangipani, gardenia and port wine magnolia are stunning flowers that perfume outdoor areas. “For both taste and scent, organic herb gardens and veggie patches are definite winner.”

Auditory elements can be a great way to foster tranquility and ambience in an outdoor space, Matt believes. “The most natural way to bring sound and music into a garden is through attracting wildlife – birds, bees and butterflies.” He says, banksias and grevilleas do a great job of attracting birds and bees during the cooler months.

“Landscape design also has a massive impact on the way an outdoor space feels. You want your area to have multiple facets and dimensions without closing off the space completely, a way to limit this is by employing boundary screening plants and slender weaving bamboo. Also try to incorporate winding paths rather than direct tracts to inject positive energy into the space, as well as colours that blend with natural tones – natural stone and hardwood, for instance.”

For more tips and tricks from Matt, visit his website.