Coming soon! ‘Therapeutic Landscapes’

Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces

Publication date is October 21st!

Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces
by Clare Cooper Marcus and Naomi A. Sachs, with Foreword by Roger S. Ulrich and chapters by Marni Barnes and Teresia Hazen

This comprehensive, authoritative, beautifully illustrated guide offers an evidence-based overview of healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes from planning to post-occupancy evaluation. It provides general guidelines for designers and other stakeholders in a variety of projects, as well as patient-specific guidelines covering twelve categories ranging from burn patients, psychiatric patients, to hospice and Alzheimer’s patients, among others. Sections on participatory design and funding offer valuable guidance to the entire team, not just designers, while a planting and maintenance chapter gives critical information to ensure that safety, longevity, and budgetary concerns are addressed.

For a preview; more information about the authors; and to pre-order a copy, visit You can also buy through Indie Bound or a number of other book sellers through the Wiley website: The Wiley website also lists the Table of Contents.



Photo by Henry Domke,

Photo by Henry Domke,

I don’t usually make titles all in bold, but this is such an exciting opportunity, I wanted to grab your attention.

Vendome Group, publisher of Healthcare Design, Environments for Aging and Behavioral Healthcare, is excited to announce our inaugural The Landscape Architecture Award for Healthcare Environments!

Landscape Architecture projects will be featured in a special digital magazine that will reach more than 80,000 readers.

Highlights of this program include:

  • An ideal audience: Projects will be seen by Architects, Designers, Administrators, C-Suite Executives within healthcare communities, and more.
  • Recognition for exceptional landscape architecture and design within 3 categories: Acute Care, Senior Living and Behavioral Healthcare.
  • A low entry fee: Cost to enter is only $350 per project.
  • Expert Panelists: A jury of industry experts will choose one winner and runner-up within each of the 3 categories to be published in the digital magazine.

Award winners and runners-up will receive:

  • A 2-page spread, at no cost, featured in the digital magazine.
  • A prestigious award engraved with the firm and facility names; and
  • Editorial coverage in 2014.

All other firms with accepted projects will have the option to include their project in the digital magazine for a nominal fee.

As the Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, I can’t tell you how excited I am about this program. Oh, wait, I just did.

Applications are due SOON – 9/20/13 so pull your material together and submit it!

To learn more, visit:


Gezi Park, Nearby Nature, and Democracy

Taksim Gezi Park protests,People at Taksim Gezi Park on 3rd Jun 2013. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Taksim Gezi Park protests,People at Taksim Gezi Park on 3rd Jun 2013. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Can you imagine a city without any parks? The recent mass (literally – they are happening all over the country) protests in Turkey, sparked by the government’s plans to raze the only remaining park in Istanbul, is a powerful indicator of people’s need for green space (click here for a good overview).

Yesterday I posted a fascinating New York Times Blog article, “Urban Trees as Triggers, From Istanbul to Oregon,” on our Facebook and Linked In groups for discussion. Filiz Satir, our TLN Blog Events Editor, wrote this response:

So, I have been following the events in Istanbul and Turkey with great interest. (My family is from Turkey.) What started out as a peaceful protest two weeks ago in opposition to construction of a shopping mall and the razing of park in the heart of Istanbul Turkey – quickly transformed into a countrywide political protest against the policies of governing AK Party and Prime Minister R.T. Erdogan. However, the original protests in the famous Gezi Park were about the public staking a claim on and fighting for one of the last remaining open spaces in this hub of Istanbul – truly a labyrinth of a metropolis.

I am nervous for what might happen in the next 8 to 10 hours as the PM issued an ultimatum earlier today – to shut down protesters in the park. This mini-documentary is compelling for showing Turkish civil society becoming politically engaged through their activities in and around Gezi Park, Taksim Square via @youtube

Gezi Park protests

A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas as people protest against the destruction of trees in a park brought about by a pedestrian project, in Taksim Square in central İstanbul on May 28, 2013. (Photo: Reuters, Osman Orsal)

What do you think of all of this? Please leave a comment here or on our Linked In group.

Filiz Satir, in addition to being our terrific Events Editor, is the author of the beautiful blog Nearby Nature: Lessons From the Natural World. She is a enior communications professional, technical writer, and storyteller with a track record for delivering institutional communications programs for a variety of public and private organizations. Thank you, Filiz!

News from the TLN – A note from the Director

Live oak, College Station, TX. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Live oak, College Station, TX. Photo by Naomi Sachs

I knew it had been a long time since the last TLN Blog post, but I didn’t realize until yesterday that it’s been almost a month. I think we are also overdue for our monthly TLN e-Newsletter (if you’d like to receive the free newsletter, sign up here).

The big news is that I have been accepted into the PhD program in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. I will be focusing on – you guessed it – therapeutic landscapes, in the Center for Health Systems & Design. The faculty there is unbelievable, the students are top-notch, and the scholarship that comes out of the Center is excellent. The big draw for me is that several Architecture professors focus on access to nature (see, for example, Susan Rodiek’s Access to Nature DVD series). So it’s a great fit, and I’m excited about pursuing the missing piece of my puzzle: Research on how nature – wild and designed – affects people’s health and well-being. Learning how to conduct original research, write about it, and teach others will, I hope, make a contribution to the growing field of evidence-based design (stay tuned for the next post which focuses on EBD) to not just advocate for therapeutic landscapes but to answer specific questions about how we can best design spaces that benefit even the most vulnerable populations.

The TLN website and community will remain active, but will probably undergo changes as I transition from full-time TLN Director and part-time landscape designer to full-time doctoral student. I am in conversation with our Advisory Board about how to make this happen. Support from TLN members who can donate funds and/or time will be essential (if you would like to donate now, please visit our Support page; no amount is too small…or too big). The conversations we’ve been having on Linked In and Facebook have become so dynamic, fulfilling the “connecting people with people” part of our mission and vision.

I will also be moving from my home of almost 7 years in the verdant Hudson Valley to College Station, in Central Texas. This will be quite the change of scenery. I was fortunate last week to see the Texas Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush in full bloom together, a breathtaking sight. Above is an image of a noble Live Oak in one of College Station’s parks.

Thanks to all of you for putting the “N” in the TLN. Like a good, well-tended tree, this is truly a strong Network, getting stronger and more vibrant all the time. I look forward to continuing our work, in whatever way takes shape, in the years to come. In the meantime, stay tuned for more blog posts as I pack boxes and prepare to move!

– Naomi Sachs, ASLA, EDAC
Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network

Garden Design Journal (UK) publishes article on Therapeutic Landscapes by TLN Director Naomi Sachs

Garden Design Journal article by Naomi Sachs, "That Healing Feeling."

Garden Design Journal cover, December 2010 An article by Therapeutic Landscapes Network Founder & Director Naomi Sachs appears in the December 2010 issue of Garden Design Journal, the journal for the Society of Garden Designers in the UK. Click on the title to link to a pdf: Garden Design Journal article by Naomi Sachs, “That Healing Feeling.”

An Amazing Opportunity – TKF Foundation Capstone Awards

Summer Sky by Henry Domke

Photo by Henry Domke,

The TKF Foundation‘s mission is “to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by inspiring and supporting the creation of public greenspace that offers a temporary place of sanctuary, encourages reflection, provides solace, and engenders peace and well being.” TKF does amazing work. They have funded over 120 projects in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, and now they are embarking on a new project, the National Demonstration Site and Research Challenge Awards Initiative. I hope that some of you will apply, and please also help spread the word. This really is an amazing opportunity, from which all of us will benefit.

TKF Announces New Capstone Awards

National Demonstration Site and Research Challenge Awards Initiative
We are living in a time of crisis when the press of urban congestion and technology threaten our human wellbeing.  In the 21st century, as the pace of life has accelerated, our relationship with the land, with each other and with our inner selves has diminished. TKF believes that a critical part of what today’s communities cry out for is the peace of a Walden Pond in every neighborhood and the awe-inspiring power of trees outside our windows. Through many years of involvement in environmental and public greening advocacy, we have found that the language of the spirit has been silenced. We seek to restore that voice to the public discourse.

While we know intuitively and anecdotally that nature heals, unifies and uplifts the human spirit, TKF believes there is a growing need to complement these insights with empirical evidence in order to gain wider acceptance, advance understanding, influence policy, and effect systems change.

Beginning in 2012, TKF will begin awarding challenge grants of up to $1 million to applicants who seek to create a new Open Space Sacred Place and to study aspects of the impact on the human spirit of the opportunity to be in nature.  Open to qualified applicants from across the United States, this program is designed to inspire non-profit organizations, professional associations, educational institutions, municipalities and community-based groups from a range of perspectives to come together in interdisciplinary teams to create new public green spaces and to implement a significant research or evaluation component. Through these awards and the ensuing research and communication of findings, we seek to build a body of useful information and evidence about the impact of Open Spaces Sacred Places on the human spirit that can be shared to create greater public understanding and support of the benefits of  nature to individual and community wellbeing. Our goal is to encourage all types of practitioners, policy makers and opinion leaders — from community activists to environmental advocates to city planners and including doctors, philosophers, journalists, social scientists and theologians among many others — to think broadly about the role and importance of nature in every life and to take concrete steps to make access to nature.

As a first step, later this year we will convene a National Advisory Panel, to help us better understand the kinds of questions from the field that need study and the ways that research could be most helpful in advancing a variety of missions that intersect in the realm of nature, spirit and individual and community wellbeing. We anticipate that the output of the panel’s work will provide important context and inspiration for the Demonstration Site and Research projects and for many others already working in related fields. For more information, click here.

Hurrah! ‘Access to Nature for Older Adults’ Wins ASLA Award

Access to Nature for Older Adults

Photo by Susan Rodiek

The 2010 ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Awards have been announced, and one of the winners is the excellent new DVD series, “Access to Nature for Older Adults: Promoting Health Through Landscape Design.” Yea! We’ve blogged about this DVD series before, and we’re so pleased that ASLA agrees that it’s a valuable educational and design tool. Here’s what the jury had to say:

“Many of the features that were found beneficial, if included in all landscape design activity, would result in superior design and experience for us all. Improving our interactions with our world and better mental health all around! Talks about landscape design specific to an older population, proving a point of the importance of landscape architects. It sets up a design hypothesis that is in need of proving. Everything it applies to older population also applies to everyone. The research has a much broader application than just the elderly population.”
—2010 Professional Awards Jury

And to celebrate, TLN members get a 15% discount off any or all three Access to Nature DVDs. You don’t even need to be an official TLN member (though we’d love it if you were: Join online – it’s free!). If you are a designer, or an administrator, or a health and human service provider, or an educator, or a student, or someone with parents or grandparents (hm, that would be everybody), you should buy this award-winning DVD series.

To order your Access to Nature DVDs with the 15% discount, visit the Access to Nature website, ( and at the checkout, enter the promotional code TLNA2N. If for some reason that code doesn’t work, try TLNA2Na (same code but with a lower-case “a” at the end). The website is also chock-full of good information, so it’s a good one to bookmark.

Access to Nature DVDs

This is actually the fourth award for Access to Nature series: It received the 2009 Environment + Design Award from CEAL – The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living, and an early prototype of the Access to Nature program also won the Active Place Design Competition award in product design from EDRA, the Environmental Design Research Association, and a Viewer’s choice award from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Congratulations again to Susan Rodiek and her team at Texas A & M University; keep up the good work, and thanks for extending the discount to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network!

Sustainable AND Restorative Landscapes: Four To Watch from Sustainable Sites Initiative’s Pilot Projects

Sustainable Sites Initiative

Healing Garden at Cayuga Medical Center, one of SITES' case studies

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) has announced its 175 Pilot Projects, and here, from what I can tell, are the ones specifically related to therapeutic landscapes:

Alderwood Longterm Care Facility
Baddeck, Cape Breton
Project Type: Residential
Project Team: Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle; Ekistics Planning & Design; WHW Architects; Alderwood Corporation
Description: The Alderwood Rest Home is a greenfield development that is measuring and evaluating the sustainability goals and deliverables that will contribute to improvements in landscape design, construction and maintenance. Protection, restoration, environmental mitigation, orientation, plantings, walkways, outdoor rooms, and hardscape have been strategically combined to provide an environment that enhances resident wellness, optimizes resident’s outdoor usage and integrates the property’s diverse natural environment.

Health Village Fludir
Fludir, Iceland
Project Type: Commercial
Project Team: Health Village Fludir Ltd. and Vist & Vera ltd.
Description: This 16-acre greenfield project is associated with Iceland’s first health village. Site plans will focus on creating a walkable and ADA accessible environment including health paths, fitness zones, a series of natural open spaces, and a healing garden. Vehicular traffic will be limited and parking placed on the outer periphery. The project is seen as an opportunity to test SITES guidelines in Iceland and serve as a model for sustainable development in the country. (

The People’s Garden (USDA)
Washington, District of Columbia
Project Type: Governmental complex
Project Team: USDA-Office of Operations, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA- Forest Service
Description: The landscape outside USDA headquarters has been redesigned to showcase sustainability, nutrition, and healthy eating through rainwater harvesting, removal of invasives, and installation of working beehives, a vegetable garden, and a green roof among other design elements. This new landscape will support the agency’s educational mission while demonstrating to other public institutions that sustainable practices can be successfully implemented on a high profile, urban site with a rigorous aesthetic design requirement.

The Barn Raising Project
Millington, Tennessee
Project Type: Institutional/Educational
Project Team: Habitat for Hope, PLACE Alliance, archimania
Description: This non-profit organization exists to provide holistic care for families enduring the serious illness of a child. They will transform its 48-acre greenfield campus into a model for sustainability. The environmentally friendly development plan includes cabins, a village center, lodge, chapel, equestrian center, and staff residences. The team believes alignment with SITES will benefit the families that Habitat for Hope serves.

Several other pilot projects are for children, education, and public parks; you can view the entire list here:

These SITES Pilot Projects represent a diverse cross-section of project types, sizes and geographic locations in various stages of development from design to construction and maintenance. SITES Pilot Projects will be the first projects in the United States and abroad to demonstrate the application of The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009, released on November 5, 2009.

SITES has a Human Health and Well-Being component as well as those that are more strictly environmental, which is very exciting to those of us in this field.

For more information about the Sustainable Sites Initiative, visit their website, and here’s a good overview of the Pilot Projects from ASLA’s The Dirt.

The above image is from one of SITES’ Case Studies, the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY.

Now online! Nature-Based Learning and Play for Children with Autism and Special Needs

Since Richard Louv began his No Child Left Inside campaign, we have seen a wonderful groundswell around the importance of children experiencing the natural world. And at the same time, sadly, we continue to see an alarming rise in children with autism and other related disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism now affects 1 in every 110 American children. This new number is a staggering 57% increase from 2002-2006. Clearly, we need more research on prevention and treatment options, but we also need more ways to help those children (and their families) on the “autism spectrum” who are coping on a daily basis.

One way that we can help is by designing environments that support children on the spectrum, including outdoor play and learning spaces. That’s why Tara Vincenta – Principal at Artemis Landscape Architects and creator of the SOL (Sequential Outdoor Learning) Environment –  and I were thrilled when KaBOOM! approached us about doing an online training on this very subject. We’ve had a great time collaborating and are happy to announce that the training is now available on the KaBOOM! website, and will soon be up on the SOL Environment and Therapeutic Landscapes Network websites as well.

The free online training is called “Prescription for Play: Nature-based Play and Learning for Autistic and Special Needs Children.” Here’s the description:

Join landscape architects Naomi Sachs, Director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and Tara Vincenta, creator of SOL (Sequential Outdoor Learning) Environment as they explore research and design considerations for creating outdoor, nature-based play and learning environments for autistic and special needs children. Many of the challenges faced by autistic children are shared with a broader community of special needs children, including motor, neuromuscular, cognitive, sensory and communication issues, and visual and auditory impairment. Sachs and Vincenta will share ideas for creating outdoor spaces that allow children to play at their own comfort level, overcoming common challenges in a safe, FUN, nature-based environment that is equally engaging for any child.

Go to KaBOOM’s Hot Topics in Play page to access the training, and if ours is not the first training, just scroll down until you see it. You’ll find other great topics there as well, and once you join KaBOOM (free, of course), you can access any and all. KaBOOM! is a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities, and whose vision is “a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.”

You can also download a pdf of the supplemental materials – a list resources in print and online about this topic – from the KaBOOM website, and we’ll have those on our respective websites soon, too.

Many, many thanks to KaBOOM! (and especially to Kiva) for this wonderful opportunity, and to you, dear reader, for spreading the word (yes, that’s a hint).

Healing the Neighborhood: The Power of Gardens

Nicola Allen in front of her North End Hartford home (photo courtesy Hartford Journal)

Nicola Allen knew that she had to do something to make her North End neighborhood in Hartford, CT safer and nicer. And after much thought and some time driving around suburban neighborhoods that seemed better, she arrived at the solution: Gardens. “Suburban homeowners took pride in their homes and landscapes. She decided to make her property look more like the landscapes she admired,” reports Theresa Sullivan Barger in a recent Hartford Courant article, Urban Flower Power: Gardens Turn Blighted Burton Street Area Into Oasis Of Color.” By working in her own garden, Allen has inspired others in the neighborhood to do the same, and their efforts have paid off: The neighborhood really has improved. Did she know that environmental psychologists have been researching this subject and coming up with similar findings?

Frances Kuo and others at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, have been documenting the importance of nature in the built environment, especially in urban areas with high crime rates. Again and again, they have found that the greener the surroundings, the healthier, happier, and safer the people are who live there. All of these papers can be accessed from the LHHL website, and you can link to them individually below:

Adding Trees Makes Life More Manageable: Trees ease poverty’s burden in inner city neighborhoods.
Kuo, F.E. (2001). Coping with poverty: Impacts of environment and attention in the inner city. Environment & Behavior, 33(1), 5-34.

Views of Greenery Help Girls Succeed: Girls with a home view of nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline.
Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). “Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.

Vegetation May Cut Crime in the Inner City: In an inner city neighborhood, the greener the residence, the lower the crime rate.
Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). “Environment and crime in the inner city: Does vegetation reduce crime?” Environment and Behavior, 33(3), 343-367.

Trees Linked with [Less] Domestic Violence in the Inner City: Aggression and Violence are Reduced with Nature Nearby.
Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan W.C. (2001). Aggression and violence in the inner city: Impacts of environment via mental fatigue. Environment & Behavior, 33(4), 543-571.

Where Trees are Planted, Communities Grow: Green spaces entice neighbors outdoors on a regular basis, where they build friendship and ties to one another.
Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26(6), 823-851.