November 04, 2021
By Kim Campbell

All hotels, no matter their size or location, can benefit from adding a little live decor to their indoor and outdoor spaces. Sprucing up your property with a few hotel gardening ideas doesn’t have to be expensive or require a ton of work. Simply adding live plants to the lobby or making or cleaning up the landscaping can have a big impact on hotel guests and visitors.

Being so, we’ve compiled a list of 26 tips, ideas, and examples that you can use to take your hotel gardening appeal to the next level. We have tips and tricks for hotels of any size and every budget.

The complete guide to hotel gardening

Adding a hotel garden? Consider safety first

1. Avoid including toxic or poisonous plants in your hotel garden. Guest safety should be at the forefront of every hotelier’s mind. If you’re interested in growing a garden at your hotel, make sure all of the plants and materials are safe. If you don’t know much about gardening, you may be surprised to learn that many common plants are harmful to humans; some are even deadly. Research poisonous garden plants or ask your landscaping partner for assistance when selecting plants for your hotel garden.

Free download: The 2021 guide to sustainable meetings for hotels

2. Consider pet safety. Is your hotel pet-friendly? If so, be sure to avoid planting species that are harmful to pets. Not all plants that are safe for humans are also safe for animals. Pet-friendly hotels should consider gating edible gardens and flowerbeds. Provide disposable waste bags for pets around the garden as well, as any unique scents are sure to attract their attention.

3. Avoid allergy-causing garden plants and landscaping. As many as 60 million adults in the United States suffer from allergies, and many guests who visit your hotel will as well.

4. Include plants that prevent unwanted pests. Instead of dousing your hotel garden in harmful chemicals or pesticides, include natural pest deterrents in the garden to keep the critters at bay. Citronella is renowned for its ability to repel mosquitoes, as is common garden basil. Brightly colored and easy to grow, marigolds have a strong scent that repels nematodes, cabbage worms, and mosquitos, and attracts helpful insects that kill aphids — the tiny enemy plant-lovers know all too well.

5. Watch out for mulch fires. Especially in hot, dry weather, fresh mulch can be a fire hazard. When piled too deeply, mulch can actually spontaneously catch fire. Due to its flammability, mulched areas are often spread out around a home or business to prevent the fire from spreading too quickly. If your hotel gardening includes a lot of mulch, make sure that various areas of the garden are separated by concrete, grass, or other barriers to prevent potential fires from spreading out of control.

Make the most of your space

6. Grow up. Vertical gardening is a hot trend, especially in hotels with limited outdoor space. Whether outside the hotel entrance, on a guest balcony, or growing up the hotel exterior itself, vertical gardens make a big visual impact and take up minimal square footage. Madrid’s iconic VP Plaza España Design, for example, takes vertical gardening to the next level by showcasing dramatic greenery in a vertical garden that reaches from the underground parking area all the way up to the 17th floor.

7. Grow a rooftop garden. Rooftop bars, pools, and clubs appeal to many travelers looking for a unique hotel experience. Hotels located in busy cities or dense urban areas can utilize their rooftop for garden space.

8. Create a living wall for one-of-a-kind indoor gardening. Built right into the wall, living garden walls couple abundant plant life with modern art. A massive but rewarding undertaking, living walls can be arranged to make decorative art pieces, display an array of colors, and bring a lot of life to any space — just be prepared to spend a good chunk of time and money putting it together.

9. Use indoor plants to make public spaces more welcoming. Some hotels struggle with decorating small indoor spaces. If your hotel lobby is lacking counter space, shelving, or other places to set plants, consider adding planters in south-facing windows. Hang ferns to maximize your space and brighten up the lobby with low-maintenance greenery.

10. Create planters that double as seating. Planter benches are an inviting addition to any hotel garden. Aesthetically pleasing and inviting to guests, planter benches can be used to separate outdoor spaces and create peaceful areas where guests can relax. Are you a handy hotelier? Consider building your own planter bench to cut costs.

Keep your hotel garden eco-friendly

11. Grow a pollinator garden away from hotel entrances. Let your hotel be part of the solution and work to help save the bees. Include bushes that attract butterflies, lavender for bees, or other pollinators. Just be sure to keep the pollinator garden away from hotel entrances to protect guests with allergies and keep friendly fliers from coming inside.

12. Include educational signs in your garden. Help guests learn about the different plants in your garden by placing a few informative plaques or signs throughout to point out different plant species. Guests of all ages can enjoy walking through the garden while identifying plants and learning unique facts about what’s growing.

13. Create your own compost from hotel food waste. Does your hotel have a kitchen? To minimize food waste and help your hotel garden grow, start a compost pile for a sustainable, chemical-free fertilizer. Fruits, vegetables, grains, coffee, eggshells, and even dairy products can be used in composting. For more on this, check out our guide to maximizing hotel recycling.

14. Go organic. Grow a happy and healthy organic garden by using organic mulches, planting non-GMO seeds, and avoiding harmful pesticides.

15. Include drought-resistant plants. To improve your hotel’s water conservation efforts, grow drought-resistant plants that don’t require frequent watering. Coneflowers and lavender are great for outdoor gardens in dry areas. Aloe, burro’s tail, and a variety of small palms are good choices for low-maintenance, drought-tolerant indoor gardening.

Grow a garden that benefits the hotel itself

16. Create an edible landscape. Providing dining for guests multiple times each day can quickly become expensive. Save money, and take your menu to the next level, by including homegrown vegetables and fresh herbs from the hotel’s edible garden. Your guests will get a kick out of seeing exactly where their food comes from too. The Hotel Cerro in San Luis Obispo, for example, is famed for its edible gardens and farm-to-table food service.

17. Partner with local businesses for donations and garden sponsorships. Using materials from local vendors or shopping at local nurseries helps promote business-to-business relationships in the community. Advertise contractors, landscapers, and other businesses that donate work or materials for the hotel’s garden. Working directly with companies in the area could also open doors and help the hotel sales team to win local contracts.

18. Dedicate a portion of the garden for staff use. Creating a community garden for team members to use and enjoy can improve hotel culture and promote teamwork amongst the staff.

19. Improve the guest experience with private garden areas. Use hedges to create private seating areas where guests can enjoy a cup of coffee, make a phone call, or get some work done with a little privacy.

20. Improve an outdoor dining or event area. There are lots of opportunities for hotel wedding venues to jazz up outdoor space. Including decorative vases, a variety of unique plants, or wedding-themed floral arrangements can add to the appeal of outdoor event space. Create a setting where engaged couples picture themselves getting married. Include outdoor gardening as a selling point when giving tours or selling event space.

6 real-life examples of hotel gardening ideas

Still looking for inspiration or hotel gardening ideas? Check out six fantastic, real-life hotel gardens below:

  1. Jekyll Island Club Resort
  2. The Little Nell
  3. Glenmere Mansion
  4. Fairmont San Francisco
  5. The Inn at Montchanin Village
  6. Monhonk Mountain House

Frequently asked questions about hotel gardening

What is hotel gardening?

Hotel gardening refers to the landscaping and planting of flowers, grass, shrubs, trees, and other plants around a hotel. Some hotels manage their gardening on-property; it’s a common duty for many maintenance departments. Hotels that have large landscapes or greenery that require maintenance may choose to outsource their gardening needs.

Do all hotels have gardens?

While the majority of hotels have some form of landscaping, or at least an indoor plant or two, not all hotels have gardens. In many instances, hotels located in metropolitan areas or dense urban locations simply do not have the outdoor space.

How do you start growing a hotel garden?

Plan your hotel garden before you start planting anything. How much space do you have? What are you interested in planting: herbs, flowers, shrubbery, or all three? Get to know your plant hardiness zone and choose plants that thrive in your area. Look for plants that grow well together or have similar soil requirements to encourage growth and make garden maintenance easier. Make sure you have the approval of your corporate office or ownership company, and consult brand standards before making permanent property changes.

Does Hilton Garden Inn have a hotel garden?

Hilton Garden Inns are not required to have actual gardens. While the majority of HGI’s probably have some form of landscaping or hotel gardening, the name is not literal in the sense that there’s a garden on property.

Put this hotel gardening guide to use today!

Up next, keep sustainability front of mind with these 25 eco-friendly hotel ideas.

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Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list.

Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.

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