‘Puzzelstuk’ garden

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‘Puzzelstuk’ garden

ProjectA low-stimulus garden
ClientStichting Puzzelstuk

With thanks to the municipality of Leiden.

Residents and location

‘Puzzelstuk’ is a new residential care complex where sixteen autistic young adults with a low IQ or other disability live. They have their own studio, shared living rooms and share a large garden around the building. The group is unable to live and work independently and requires guidance and care. The goal is that they can be part of our society, despite their limitations.
There is an outdoor area of over 1100 m2 surrounding the building, which consists of a front garden and enclosed backyard.


A list of wishes and preconditions has been drawn up together with the parents. A garden group was set up to provide feedback on the garden design. The design was initially used to raise funds and sponsorship for implementation. This was successful, but the parents themselves also did a lot: put plants in the ground, built the benches and pergola.

Wishes and preconditions

Take a walk, do things together… Above all, it should be a playful, informal garden, with winding paths, wheelchair accessibility, a green fence, attention to biodiversity, a trampoline, colourful plants, low-stimulus and the lowest possible maintenance level. A garden to use.

The design

The front garden is planted with shade plants, solitary shrubs and flowering trees. A green welcome.
The backyard is the domain of the residents. A winding semi-paved path connects the terraces of the living rooms. On the route you will pass borders with groups of flowering plants, seating areas, a large terrace, a lawn, trampoline, a scented herb garden, fruit trees and vegetable garden tables. There are also playful elements, such as a ‘garden gate for J.’ (a resident in a wheelchair who loves opening and closing doors) and a pergola corridor. The steel fence surrounding the garden is covered with different types of climbing plants. Solitary shrubs stand loosely in the space in front of this fence.
The trees and shrubs give the garden structure, height and shade. Low-stem fruit trees have been planted that are easy for wheelchair users to reach. The borders consist of large planting areas, with ‘tough’ plants that are easy to maintain. Large areas with ground cover plants have been created throughout the garden. The garden is attractive for the residents as well as for birds and insects.

Low in stimulation

To avoid external stimuli, the fence is planted with climbing plants, some of which are evergreen. The shrubs on both sides of the fence are intended for privacy, but also to integrate the garden into the environment in a natural way. The plants in the garden are diverse in colour, but the large planting areas create a calm image. There are no objects that make noise, such as a fountain. Plants that ‘wave’ too much have also been avoided. Residents can solitarily retreat in the garden or meet others.


It would be wonderful if the residents saw the garden as an extension of their studio, a free place where they could retreat, but also where they could meet and have a picnic together, gardening, picking apples or just hanging out.

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