"To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." - Alfred Austin

While many people don’t feel the need to justify their enjoyment of gardening, for those who do there’s increasing evidence of the positive effects that gardening can have on both physical and mental health. Gardening is a straightforward but satisfying activity that can boost mood and bring calmness and quiet in an otherwise hectic world. 

Most gardeners instinctively feel the benefits of gardening, but there’s also a growing amount of scientific research to support that gut feeling. Recent studies have reported that gardening brings improvements to physical wellbeing as well as wide-ranging mental health benefits, including lessening depression and anxiety. These benefits appear to be enjoyed across genders, age groups and cultural backgrounds.

Physical Benefits

Gardening is an excellent form of physical activity that promotes overall wellness. It entails a variety of different movements, such as bending, digging, pulling weeds and lifting plants and soil, that provide a full-body workout - without even joining the gym or donning active wear! Gardening involves both gross and fine motor skills and can help to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and improve balance. It's also a low-impact kind of activity that's gentle on the joints, making it possible for people with joint pain or mobility concerns.

Mental Health Benefits

At the bottom of freshly dug holes, I bury my problems alongside the waxen seeds.” ― Kelseyleigh Reber

The nurturing and care of plants can be meditative and therapeutic, lowering tension and anxiety. Gardening's repetitive actions can also be peaceful and contemplative, helping to calm the mind and offer a sense of tranquility. And who hasn’t felt the sense of satisfaction and boost to self-esteem at seeing the results of your labour, whether that takes the form of a freshly harvested tomato or the healthy bloom of a dahlia?

Spending time outside in nature has been demonstrated to improve mood, focus and overall wellbeing. Recent university studies have found direct mental health benefits just from observing plants, boosting mood and concentration in particular. What’s more, whether you interact regularly with other gardeners or not, simply by gardening you are part of a community of like-minded people.

Creativity and Experimentation

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” —Janet Kilburn Phillips

Gardening gives people an opportunity to plan, design and create, and while occasional failures growing plants are disappointing, they provide good opportunities for learning and experimentation. The simple act of watching plants grow and bloom can be a reminder of the cycles of life and the beauty of growth and change. And there’s never a shortage of new plants, ideas and gardening techniques to try - you could garden for a lifetime and only touch on some of them.

Gardening is a wonderful pastime that has many advantages for the mind, body and spirit. All of these benefits can be enjoyed by everyone, whether you have a single houseplant or a large garden. The more gardening becomes a regular part of your lifestyle, the more positive impacts it may have.

A photo of a young boy sitting in a vegetable garden, showing great interst in the plants

A photo of two young women admiring a flower in a wild-looking urban garden

A humourous photo of an elderly man using a split in half snow pea for a moustache