Cultivate - the Horticultural Therapy Society of NSW

What is Horticultural therapy?


What is Horticultural Therapy?

Horticultural therapy is a process in which plants and gardening activities are used to improve the body, mind and spirit of those people for all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Horticultural therapy is currently being used in hospital, rehabilitation centres, disability services, aged care facilities and a range of community settings, including people's homes and community gardens.

The term Horticultural Therapy covers a wide variety of techniques and processes which use gardens and garden based activities to promote the physical, mental and social health of participants. 

Horticultural Therapy utilizes many different disciplines and draws upon many different fields including, but not limited to: 

  • Aged Care
  • Disability Services
  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Diversional & Recreation Therapy
  • Landscape Architecture

Although gardens have been considered to be healing spaces since ancient times, Horticultural Therapy only developed as a discipline more recently. As such, there is a considerable amount of research which, although it clearly falls under the heading of Horticultural Therapy, is known by different names. Some of these include:

  • therapeutic horticulture
  • healing garden
  • enabling garden
  • accessible garden
  • barrier free garden

Who can benefit from Horticultural Therapy?

The therapeutic benefits of being in a garden space are not limited to any particular group. 
Horticultural Therapy may be used to promote positive outcomes of individuals of any age, background or circumstance. 

Working as a Garden Program Facilitator or Horticultural Therapist

People work in therapeutic horticulture at different levels. Much of the work in Australia is around improving general health and wellbeing. Practitioners at this level will have certificate level training in appropriate areas of health and horticulture. They are equipped to organise and deliver general therapeutic gardening programs. Charge out rates for an independent practitioner with certificate level qualifications are around $75-110 per hour.

An Accredited Therapist in Australia will have appropriate tertiary level qualifications in the relevant field of practice. A Horticultural Therapist will design more targeted programs with quantifiable therapeutic outcomes and will usually work in a clinical setting (e.g. hospital rehab, psychological services). They will be able to liaise with management, design and budget targeted programs, arrange and oversee facilitators, collate and report on measured outcomes. Charge out rates for an independent Horticultural Therapist with tertiary level qualifications are around $120-$175 per hour.

Training in Horticultural Therapy ranges from short workshops and professional development through to a qualifications in both clinical therapy and horticulture. For more details on becoming a practitioner and training options available see our section on Becoming a Practitioner.


If a career in therapeutic horticulture appeals to you, why don't you try some volunteering to see which area of work you would like to become proficient in. Go to our Programs & Volunteering page to see which organisations offer work placements and volunteering opportunities.


Cultivate - the Horticultural Therapy Society of NSW
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