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Why gardening is good for the mind, body and soul

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Gardening has several benefits for your health and wellbeing. As well as getting you out in the fresh air and keeping you active, it can help to relieve stress and bring enjoyment, creativity and learning opportunities.

Gardening also helps us to connect with nature, and it allows us to create something which can be enjoyed with families and friends all year round.

With so many advantages to getting out and caring for your outdoor spaces, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has launched a new campaign for 2019: Gardening is Good for You.

The aim of the campaign is to communicate to people just how beneficial gardening is with tips and advice covering everything from how the activity can improve relaxation and mindfulness to the various sensory values of different types of plants.

Why gardening is good for the mind, body and soul

There are studies that show just how important it is to avoid a sedentary lifestyle by finding ways to incorporate exercise into our day-to-day lives[i]. According to research, people who are more active on a daily basis reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Being active doesn’t always mean going for a run or to the gym, tasks such as gardening are great ways to get off the sofa and moving.

When it comes to burning calories, statistics show you could burn up to 105 calories with just half an hour of weeding and up to 250 calories by digging or shovelling for 30 minutes[ii].

But it’s not just our physical health that can benefit from gardening – our mental health can improve too. Gardens are great places to relax, and just being around nature or looking out onto green spaces has been shown to relieve stress, as well as improve wellbeing and creativity. The process of creating, doing something productive and learning new skills can also have a positive and restorative effect on mental health. Because of these sorts of benefits, some GPs prescribe gardening to people with depression, anxiety or mental health problems.

You are what you eat

Growing and harvesting your own fruit, vegetables and herbs is a great way to eat healthier and strive towards getting your five a day. You don’t even need a big garden – you can grow herbs on your window sill or small crops on a balcony, all providing essential vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy.

Herbs in particular are great to grow. Not only are they straight forward to care for, but they help to flavour food, and many have added health benefits too, for example sage is thought to improve memory and peppermint can ease digestion.

January plant suggestions

Although spring and summer feel a long way off, by choosing the right plants you can create a garden that looks good and adds different visual points all year round. It will also help to encourage you into the garden during the colder months to care for your plants and outdoor space, rather than just see gardening as a seasonal activity.

You could select evergreen plants and architectural shrubs with green, coloured or variegated foliage that produce seasonal flowers, and perhaps fruits or berries too. Plant these to form the backbone to your garden, giving it structure and adding height at the back of borders. You can also use their bold shapes and sizes to obscure eyesores and cover fences, cut down noise from roads and neighbours – helping to improve acoustic comfort – and create a sense of privacy and seclusion.

The start of the year is a good time to look at plants that offer colour and interest all year round. For example:

  • Choisya eg ‘Sundance’ AGM, ‘Aztec Pearl’ AGM
  • Hebe ‘Red Edge’ AGM
  • Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ AGM
  • Skimmia japonica ‘Fragrans’ AGM
  • Photinia eg ‘Red Robin’ AGM
  • Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ AGM
  • Japanese spotted laurel - Aucuba japonica ‘Crotonifolia’ AGM
  • Osmanthus x burkwoodii AGM
  • Elaeagnus x submacrophylla ‘Limelight’
  • Euonymus, Pieris

Don’t have any outdoor space or a garden? You can still give gardening a go. Find out more about how you can improve your productivity and wellbeing by harvesting indoor crops.

Disclaimer: The sole responsibility for any views expressed lies with the author(s). Any opinions shared do not necessarily represent the views of Saint-Gobain.

Adam Pasco
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