Evaluation of Military Service Member Preferences of Landscape Design Elements in Therapeutic Gardens


Military service members (MSVMs) suffer from mental and physical health ailments upon returning home from enlistment. Due to the enormity of these different and complex ailments, many unique therapeutic methods, like therapeutic gardens, have been utilized on MSVM populations to improve their overall wellbeing. Therapeutic gardens are built following a set of guidelines meant to serve general populations instead of target populations. There has been little research on the preferences of landscape design elements in therapeutic gardens by MSVMs. To determine if landscape design elements can be optimized for therapeutic gardens that serve MSVMs, a series of questions with pictures pertaining to preferences were created in an online survey that was released to civilians on social media and MSVMs through U.S. military organizations (N = 366, 90.6% completed). The average respondents were male, Caucasian, and 25–35 years old. The majority of MSVM respondents were or had enlisted in the Army branch, and were currently active duty, or honorably discharged. MSVMs and civilians had overall similar preferences of utilities and garden elements. While commonalities were found among the two respondent groups, with a preference for clear walkways, lighting wild and natural views, there were differences. In contrast to civilians, MSVMs also overwhelmingly preferred fences and gates, and the creation of privacy and prospect views instead of refuge views. Results indicate that an increased line-of-sight in fenced-in areas may make MSVMs more comfortable in therapeutic garden settings. These differences may assist urban planners and landscapers in the building of green spaces tailored to target populations like MSVMs and to illustrate the importance of building inclusive spaces for populations of concern.


© 2024 by the authors. cc-by


mental health, military, therapeutic gardens, urban planning landscape preference


Thomas, A., Monsur, M., Lindquist, C.S., Montague, T., & Simpson, C.R.. 2024. Evaluation of Military Service Member Preferences of Landscape Design Elements in Therapeutic Gardens. Land, 13(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/land13050658