How To Create ‘Scratch N Sniff’ Sensory Gardens For Kids

Image by gorkhalibaba

By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)

Kids love touching EVERYTHING! They also enjoy smelling things, so why not put the things they love best together to create ‘scratch n sniff’ sensory gardens. What on earth is a ‘scratch n sniff’ garden theme? Simple. It’s basically the same thing as a sensory garden,  appealing to the senses – but focuses more on touch and scent. Read on to learn more about these fun sensory gardens for kids.

Scratch and Sniff Garden Theme

A scratch and sniff garden theme not only makes a fun addition to the landscape but it affords the opportunity to become a crucial teaching element. Kids can learn about different textures, scents and more. Watching their ‘scratch n sniff’ plants grow teaches them about plant growth and the life cycle of plants.

Plant parts can even be used for craft projects. For instance, leaves and flowers can be dried and used to make fragrant potpourri.

These gardens can be designed in a number of ways too. Grow them inside or outside. Make them big or small. Plants can be grown in pots, the garden or even a windowsill. Whatever your child’s personal preference, sensory garden ideas aimed at touchy and smelly plants abound.

Sensory Garden Ideas for ‘Scratch n Sniff’ Theme

Here are some ideas for inclusion in your touchy-feely section of the scratch n sniff garden:

  • Create a little rockery with stones of various sizes, shapes and textures – from small to large, round to square and smooth to rough.
  • Add a water feature, be it one that moves, trickles or bubbles.
  • Use different textures for walkways like paving slabs and crushed gravel. Use a variety of mulch options such as bark, pebbles, sand, etc.
  • In addition to plants, include different types of screening like bamboo or lattice fencing.

There are all kinds of plants suitable for a curious child’s exploration. While it’s obvious that there will be some visual impact associated with the range of shapes, patterns and colors, try to focus on choosing plants with fascinating texture – furry/woolly, soft and silky. Bumpy, tickly and prickly (but stay away from plants that might cause injury.). Smooth, spongy and playful. Even sticky or wet plants, like sundew, aquarium plants and algae, make wonderful additions to this garden.

Plants for a ‘Scratch and Sniff’ Garden

‘Scratch n sniff’ plants to include are:

Furry, soft and silky plants

Bumpy, tickly, and prickly plants

Smooth, spongy and playful plants

Scented herbs and edible plants

To make this sensory garden even more appealing, add in some smelly plants. Many herbs and other plants have scented foliage, and their aromas can be released by gently rubbing the leaves. Scents in plants vary greatly, as the way in which we perceive them. Some may be delightful; others deplorable. Include them all. Some good aromatic choices to include are:

Aromatic flowering plants and trees

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