Those who garden on a regular basis know that gardening is a relaxing and satisfying way to get outside, get in touch with nature, and connect with others on a deeper level. Most gardeners will likely say something along the lines of “Gardening is therapy, gardening is health, and gardening is life.” But the question remains: Why is gardening so satisfying?
Here are five reasons why gardening is so satisfying:
- Green spaces improve your mental health.
- Garden chores improve your physical health.
- A healthy garden helps create balanced ecosystems.
- Home gardens increase your appreciation of your food.
- Gardening connects you with others.
Let’s take a deeper look at all these reasons why gardening is so satisfying, as well as what some members of the scientific community have to say on the matter.
1. Green Spaces Improve Your Mental Health
Have you ever felt that an afternoon in the garden just seems to melt away your stress? Well, in 2014, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School enlisted over 1,000 urban residents in a mental health survey to see if they could find any correlation between where people lived and how much stress they felt.
After analyzing the data, it turned out that participants who lived near green spaces reported significantly less stress. Moreover, these effects persisted long after they moved away from those spaces.
If you aren’t close to a green space or maybe don’t have the means to regularly visit green areas, such as parks, a garden can be a great substitute. Additionally, you have so much more autonomy when producing your own green space because you can make it exactly how you want it.
In addition, numerous studies have shown a link between spending time outdoors and reduced rates of anxiety, hyperactivity, and depression in people of all ages. This has led to initiatives to encourage more outdoor time for students as a solution to rising rates of childhood mental health issues.
So, if you find yourself overwhelmed by the stress of daily life, take a few moments to go outside and tend to your garden.
2. Garden Chores Improve Your Physical Health
As you know, gardening can take a lot out of you physically. Between weeding, lugging soil, and landscaping, it’s easy to break a sweat when tending to a garden. But did you know that gardening can burn more than 135 calories in just 30 minutes?
To put that figure into perspective, that’s more than what you’ll use up within 30 minutes of walking or yoga. Considering that obesity affects a large portion of the population, it’s safe to say that at least a couple of days a week in the garden can do wonders for your physical health.
In addition, gardening or spending time in green spaces can actually help prevent disease. A 2009 study found that people who lived near green spaces are less likely to experience 15 health issues, including heart disease, migraines, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
Whether you’re working hard or just enjoying your garden, spending time relaxing or working in green spaces can make a positive impact on your physical health.
3. A Healthy Garden Helps Create Balanced Ecosystems
If you’re an environmentally conscious individual, you may be looking for an easy and effective way to help protect what’s left of the planet’s natural resources. After all, knowing that you’re making a difference in the world is both satisfying and rewarding. And gardening is one way to make a substantial, positive impact on the environment.
For example, pollinators (such as bees and butterflies) are currently threatened by the destruction of plants and the introduction of toxic pesticides. Pollinators are essential to the improvement of crops for human and animal consumption, as well as the pollination of native plants.
As their name suggests, native plants are those that naturally grow in their habitat without human intervention. By planting gardens full of native plants, especially those that are pollinator-friendly, you’re already playing a major role in the (albeit gradual) restoration of Mother Earth.
Another way gardening improves the environment is by creating a mini-ecosystem for plants and animals to thrive in. The plants you grow can be a source of food for herbivores, which in turn are sources of food for carnivores, and so on. Even the slightest disruption in this system can throw the whole thing out of balance.
For the reasons I mentioned above, you should garden in a way that affects the environment as positively as possible. Use naturally-sourced fertilizers and reduce runoff to water supplies. It’s also good practice to collect and use rainwater to water plants.
4. Home Gardens Increase Your Appreciation of Your Food
It can be argued that many people are incredibly disconnected from their food. If you ask the average person to describe where the greens in their salad came from, chances are they wouldn’t be able to explain in detail how that food went from seed to their table.
This is sad because knowing where your food came from and how it’s processed helps you appreciate your food better. When you’re more aware of what you eat, you’re likely to make better food choices and are less likely to produce food waste.
The reality is that most of the food humans consume doesn’t come from farms that follow eco-friendly practices. Instead, they come from large, industrialized factories where efficient mass production is king. These factories are all about the bottom line, regardless of their environmental impact.
When you grow your own in a garden, you can more easily connect to the land and feel satisfied knowing that you’re minimizing your carbon footprint. Plus, gardening allows you to see how much love and care (and yes, maybe a bit of luck) are needed to grow a single seed.
The more you know about how plants are grown, the more likely you’ll respect the food on your table. Additionally, growing your own food helps alleviate supply chain issues and makes healthy, wholesome, and organic food more accessible for the average person.
Gardening with Mother Nature in mind is especially important for young people, who will grow up to inherit a world that has since suffered from the consequences of mindless human consumption, and who need to see what goes into the food they fill their bellies with.
Whether you’re growing a few herbs to spice up your meals or working to grow enough food to be self-sufficient, gardening helps you to foster a stronger connection with what you eat.
5. Gardening Connects You With Others
As a gardener, I can say that few things connect you with others more than gardening does. Whether you’re gardening for yourself or are involved in keeping a community garden, the possibilities for human connection through gardening are endless.
Gardening connects you with others in more subtle ways as well. A well-kept front garden bursting with flowers can be a haven for pollinators and other animals, but it also adds a splash of beauty and color for all passersby to admire.
If you’re looking for ways to connect with others, look no further than your garden. If you don’t already have a garden but you want to start one, it’s a great opportunity to ask for help from neighbors who already have gardens of their own. Chances are, they’d be more than happy to share their know-how (and maybe even help you out with the work) to help you get your own garden started.
Another way to connect with others using your garden is by inviting friends over to a garden party. Spending time outdoors with friends and family is always time well-spent.
Gardening is also a way to connect to the past. When you’re growing heirloom varieties of vegetables or flowers to plant in your garden, you’re also creating a sort of connection to those who originally bred and cultivated the plant you’re growing now.
Gardening often involves passing down crucial knowledge from one generation to the next. For example, knowing the best seasons to grow specific species, as well as caring for plants when they’re not doing well, is important for those who will come after you and need the means to supply their own food.
Finally, gardening allows you to share your bounty. Whether it’s dropping off a couple of extra vegetables at a neighbor’s place or bringing a bouquet of flowers to a friend, the fruits of gardening (no pun intended) allow you to brighten other people’s days — even if it’s only for a moment.