How to create a feel-good garden

Create your own Feel Good Garden with Chelsea award-winning designer Matt Keightley’s top tips

It's well documented that being outdoors in nature can promote a feeling of wellness and help reduce the symptoms of stress in our everyday lives. So it makes complete sense to create a green space in your own home that lifts your spirits.

Designer Matt Keightley built a Feel Good Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2018 that was packed with ideas that visitors could try for themselves at home – here are his tips to help you get started.

"It’s crucial to have plants in your life," says Matt. "We care for plants like they’re children and that gives us purpose, meaning and something to focus on outside of everyday life, which, in very simple terms, is a great way to alleviate day-to-day stress."

But which plants are best for improving health and wellbeing? And how can we use them to their best effect? Follow Matt's simple tips below:


1. Use cool-toned colours in your planting

Whites, pinks, blues and purples have been found to have a calming and relaxing effect on people’s state of mind, so incorporate those colours into your garden planting.

2. Don't just grow ornamentals

Herbs are remarkable: “There’s a huge value from aromatic plants and everyday herbs and I think if they’re used appropriately throughout it can look and smell very beautiful.” Why not use Matt’s favourite plant – rosemary – a plant that demands you caress it as you walk past.

3. Maximise texture

Grow a variety of different plants. Evergreen structural planting, grasses and perennials are all great choices as they offer colour and a variety of textures throughout the year. Grasses in particular offer lovely movement and can help attract wildlife. Think about texture in your hard landscaping too.

4. Encourage wildlife

Birds, bees and other garden wildlife will put a smile on your face as soon as you see them. Encourage them into your garden with plants for pollinators and a water supply for them to bathe in and drink.

5. Create an interesting route

Lay out a meandering path through your garden. Use different materials to encourage you to stop focusing on the mind and pay attention to where you’re going. Add points along the way that encourage you to linger.

6. Draw the eye deep into the garden

Build something so beautiful that it breaks a thought process. Rather than thinking about the everyday stresses or what anxiety you have, by creating something beautiful to look at, you'll be encouraged to forget about your problems and focus on the garden.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.