The Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

While I was researching inspiration for the following articles, I came across a very attractive image titled “It’s Not Just Gardening”. I believe that this very phrase captures the very spirit of what I am about to describe. The fact is, it is much more than the mere act of shoveling dirt, potting plants and packing humus.

 

It all falls under the category of “Green Care”, which is a proven theory that simply being outdoors and immersing yourself in natural surroundings and green spaces have a beneficial impact on wellbeing.

 

Gardening is an effective form of therapy

The practice of gardening and being outdoors promotes both physical and mental benefits. Studies have shown that gardening can produce beneficial effects on the mind and body. Some of the most important benefits that come from gardening include:

 

  • Reducing reliance on medication and self-harming coping mechanisms
  • Reducing depression, anxiety and stress-related symptoms
  • Increasing the ability to concentrate and engage the mind and body fully
  • Alleviating the symptoms of dementia, including aggressive behavior
  • Social Benefits
  • Learning Benefits
  • Natural benefits

This is not a new discovery either, the benefits of working in a garden and caring for the land have been well-documented and observed since the time of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In 1894, Alfred Austin the famous English poet wrote:

 

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

— The Garden that I Love, 1894

 

The RHS Flower Show “Back To Nature” was designed to “demonstrate the many benefits the natural world provides for physical and mental well-being.”

 

The evidence that supports the notion that working and being in nature and in the outdoors does indeed improve health and balance the mind is abundant. So much so that GPs can actually prescribe “garden therapy” to their patients as part of their mental healing plan, The national director for clinical mental health, Professor Tim Kendall, spoke on NHS England about this and said, “… gardening is a highly beneficial practice that can boost mental health and reverse the advance of anxiety and depression, it is also a good way for lonely people to feel less lonely and find the companionship and support they need during difficult times…”

 

But if you are not convinced that this is true, why not try it out for yourself and prepare to be amazed.

The Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Grow your own

 

You don’t need extensive property or resources to begin a gardening project, start small and work within your budget. For example, it takes no space at all to plant a pot of salad leaves or starts your very own herb garden. This can even be done on a window sill or balcony if you have no garden.

 

In place of proper clay pots, repurpose an old plastic container, just be sure to make a couple of small holes at the bottom of the container and place it on a plate or tray to catch the water that will filter through. Margarine and yogurt containers are the perfect things.

 

Next, you will need some multipurpose compost and the seeds of your choosing, both of which you will find available at your local supply store. simply follow the instructions that you find on the packet and within a few days, you will have a full set of sprouted seedlings.

 

Larger containers that you are sure to come across are a great option for growing larger plants like lettuce, peas, collard greens, tomatoes, squash and even strawberries. Old tires make a great raised planting bed and can be sourced for next to nothing at your local garage.

 

There is nothing that can compare with the immense sense of satisfaction that comes from eating your very own home-grown produce. But if you prefer something pretty and dainty, you can also grow flowers. Calendula, nigella, California Poppies, wildflowers, or even begonias — these are all easy to grow and care for in the soil directly or in a personal pot.

 

Fancy some company?

 

If you are looking to top off the mentally healthy benefits of gardening, you may consider joining a community-based gardening project. You will find many such gardening projects are sprouting up all around — pun intended.

 

You may even find that your friends and family are fascinated by the activity. Gather them together for sunshine, lemonade and an afternoon of tilling, hoeing, planting, sodding and weeding. You will find that when combined with the beneficial feeling of working together the health effects of working outside in the fresh air and sunshine are greatly amplified.

 

Tips for getting started

 

Find and join a gardening group — as mentioned, community gardens and gardening clubs are very popular things right now. Get online and search your local areas, you will find something perfect for you in no time at all.

 

Invest in some basic tools — you won’t need much, a trowel, a garden fork, a larger spade and possibly some gardening gloves and you are set. If you keep your eyes open, you will find sales for these items and package deals made available all the time. Furthermore, investing in top-quality stainless-steel tools will ensure the longevity of your set of equipment.

 

Grow from seed – you will find seeds available in all types of locations from dollar stores and nurseries to supermarkets and gardening supplies stores too.

 

Swap plants and seeds — this is why it is great to work in a community, clippings, seedlings and seeds can be traded and gifted with others — such joy!

 

Begin your Seed Collections — be sure to carefully dry up some seeds for the next planting. You will find there are more seeds in a single tomato than you could ever possibly need.

 

Thank you for reading!

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