Shade: An Essential Element in Healing Gardens

Mar 29, 2010, 09:00 ET from Professional Awning Manufacturers Association

Fabric awnings and canopies can play an important role in therapeutic garden design

ROSEVILLE, Minn., March 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A growing body of research supports that access to nature improves both the patient experience and health outcomes. As such, healing gardens are emerging as fundamental to a more holistic healthcare approach. One vital element is shade, which provides garden visitors choice, comfort and protection from the sun. And designers are beginning to recognize the year-round benefits that fabric shade structures provide in effective therapeutic landscapes.

Stress relief aids healing

Increasingly, hospitals, senior care facilities, rehabilitation centers and other health care facilities, are incorporating healing gardens – also called therapeutic, restorative or rehabilitative gardens – into their care plans. Studies show that 90 percent of healing garden users – patients and caregivers alike – experienced a positive change of mood after time spent outdoors.

"One can reasonably assume that change to a more relaxed and calmer frame of mind is likely to enhance the immune system and thus the body has a better chance of healing itself," according to by Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Healing Gardens in Hospitals."

Cooper Marcus stipulates that gardens must offer visitors the choice to sit in sun or shade. For some visitors, it's a matter of physical comfort. For many patients, however, shade is imperative; for example, burn patients may experience pain in direct sunlight, and certain cancer and HIV medications require users to keep out of the sun.

The benefits of fabric shade structures

"Fabric awnings and canopies can help make healing gardens more accessible, by assuring year-round shade and sun protection, and providing reliable cover during inclement weather," says Michelle Sahlin, Managing Director of the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association. "And designers are discovering that lightweight fabric structures can fit seamlessly into virtually any landscape."

With a vast color palette and myriad design options, awnings and canopies enhance visual appeal in landscapes. Bold, vibrant red and orange fabrics create highly effective focal points. Earth tones and organic greens can be employed as unifying elements in plush, wooded and even desert gardens. Gentle blues and grays present engaging contrast to use for balance or repetition.

Says Sahlin, "We are proud that awnings and canopies help make the therapeutic benefits of healing gardens more accessible to both patients and caregivers."

For more information on the benefits of including awnings in landscape design, visit

About PAMA

The Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA), a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), is the only international trade association committed to the awning industry. PAMA membership is open to companies who are current members of IFAI and manufacture or sell awnings, as well as those who supply goods and services to the awning industry.

SOURCE Professional Awning Manufacturers Association