The Benefits of Gardening: A Home Gardener’s Perspective
Whether you’re a new gardener, or you’ve been gardening for a very long time, you probably don’t give much thought to the benefits of gardening. You simply garden because you enjoy it and it’s your hobby of choice.
Sometimes we gardeners like to show off the fruits of our labor like having friends over for a backyard barbeque and giving them a little garden tour. Or, perhaps you post pictures of your gardens on social media. Once I posted a picture of the first harvest from my veggie garden, and one of my friends commented, “all that work for a salad.” Grrr, he clearly didn’t get it!
I love gardening, so much so that I spend hours and hours writing and teaching others about gardening and I want people to get it. I want to spread the love of gardening to others and that is why I’m offering my perspective on the benefits of home gardening.
What are the Benefits of Gardening
Everyone recognizes the benefits of gardening. No one will argue the value of providing nutritious food for yourself or your family. To some degree, it can even reduce the grocery bill as freshly grown fruits and vegetables are getting expensive.
If the goal is to make the front yard look nicer by planting shrubs and flowers, that too, is a very practical benefit. But I’d like to share some things as a home gardener that have enriched my life beyond expectation. You might even be surprised by some.
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Improved Physical Health
One thing I really enjoy about gardening is the fresh air and exercise. The walking, bending, stretching, pulling, pushing and lifting of gardening chores can be a cardio workout that matches any routine at the gym, only in a more quiet and peaceful setting. Plus, I know that the physical activity is good for my health. Home gardening improves coordination and builds muscle which is especially important as we age. It’s definitely not a sedentary hobby.
While I’m out there, I’m soaking up free Vitamin D from the sun which also contributes to good health. No wonder Mom always wanted us kids to play outside! Turns out, Mom was right. And I always thought it was to get us kids out of her hair.
Have you ever wondered how that works? A study from Harvard describes the fascinating process of how, “the sun’s energy turns a chemical in your skin (a universally present form of cholesterol) into vitamin D3. It’s carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it to active vitamin D. Vitamin D’s best-known role is to keep bones healthy by increasing the intestinal absorption of calcium.”
Mental Health Benefits of Gardening
For me, gardening is therapeutic; no question about it. Puttering about in the garden is even relaxing, despite the chores at hand. Just being out in the fresh air has an uncanny way of lifting spirits, doesn’t it? Scientifically, it has something to do with the response of the brain to natural daylight that affects the mood and makes people feel good.
For a lot of folks, being in the garden is a refreshing change of scenery. From a psychological standpoint, a study from the U.K. says it, “helps us focus on the bigger picture, which can alleviate symptoms of depression. Also, the physical aspect of gardening releases feel-good chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine. Finally, working with soil makes us happier.” And, who knew there was such a thing as Horticulture Therapy. It’s actually a very interesting article, so pop over and read it when you’ve finished up here.
I’ve noticed how people of all ages respond to nature. For instance, watch someone who comes into contact with a rose. They can’t help but walk up to it and plant their nose right in the center of the flower and take a big whiff. Pure happiness! There are also my peonies, lilacs and herbs that give off an array of scents on a gentle breeze. I just love those smells!
There are so many studies on aging and gardening that I can’t go into here. But, if you are an aging gardener, or have a parent that loves gardening, look into how beneficial gardening is for seniors. Also see, Tips for the Aging Gardener.
And the simple pleasures of connecting with nature happens more often with a home garden. It’s the beautiful butterfly that lands on my flowers. The song of a robin, or any of the other birds that hang out in your garden, just melts away the stress. Even watching the cute bee butts covered with pollen brings me joy. Yes, I’ll say it again; being out in my garden is my happy time.
Have you ever felt super crabby? When I’m feeling this way, all it takes a bit of time in my gardens to lighten and brighten my mood. Honestly, even if it’s just weeding and watering.
It’s also the joy of making something grow. Even if all you have is a couple of planters on the front porch. That pretty yellow flower is the response to your tender care, that you’ve waited patiently for. As basic as that sounds, it has a huge effect on well-being.
Finally, I’ve found the home garden to be a place of quiet contemplation. Even if you’re like me and live near a busy street, a garden in the backyard can give you a sense of privacy and escape. Get outside, soak up some sun. Read a book or take a nap. Some people report that they sleep more soundly when they’re outside.
Another Gardening Benefit – Fresh Produce = Healthy Eating
There is simply no greater benefit than getting to eat the food you grow. It’s fun to go out into the garden to pick your dinner. Leaf lettuce, kale, radishes, tomato and cucumber go into a salad. Broccoli and carrots can be steamed or sautéed as a delicious side vegetable, or eaten raw. And who doesn’t love fresh strawberries on vanilla ice cream for dessert? All picked at the peak of ripeness straight from your garden to the table.
And don’t forget that dried flowers and herbs make delicious tea: mint, chamomile, and rose hips in the fall (an excellent source of Vitamin C).
Healthy eating is one of the main reasons people give for starting a home garden. Once you start harvesting your fruits and vegetables, it’s easier to get into the habit of healthy eating. It’s the reward for all your diligent work; plus, it tastes so much better when you grow it yourself!
Adding Curb Appeal to Your Home
After healthy eating, beautification of your home’s landscape is the second most common reason people give for starting a home garden. The addition of flowers, trees and shrubs helps us enjoy our property and even use it more. For example, a tree that provides shade to shield us on a hot day is much appreciated. You’ll find yourself sitting out in the backyard more often.
Certain trees and shrubs make beautiful privacy screens or a ‘natural’ boundary between you and the neighbors. It can also block a not-so-attractive view. A living, green barrier just looks so much nicer than a plain fence.
Most of the time, we landscape for ourselves. The beautiful flower beds, shrubs and trees you plant and care for bring enjoyment to your neighbors, too. If I’m out in my front yard, or working on my very visual corner flower bed, the neighbors will stop as they are driving or walking by and give me a shout out about how good things are looking.
A home garden not only makes our yards more attractive, it helps the environment. Especially if you plant species that attract birds, honeybees, butterflies and other pollinators. See How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden to learn more.
Another Benefit of Gardening – Fresh Flowers
Roses, peonies, oriental lilies, and lilacs are some of the best scented flowers for longer lasting bouquets. So bring some of your flowers indoors to enjoy. Put them someplace where you’ll see them, like next to the kitchen sink or on your computer desk. A bouquet of flowers from your garden is a sweet gift to give to give to a friend or anyone you know who just needs cheering up. The fact that they came from your garden makes it much more personal. Consider growing a Cut Flower Garden for this very purpose.
Did you know some flowers are edible and can be used to garnish or decorate a salad or other culinary dish? Using flowers in unusual ways is quite popular now. The short list of edible flowers includes pansies, nasturtiums, chamomile, borage (which has a slight cucumber flavor), rose and dandelion (I know you’ve got some of those). So, experiment with these fresh flowers and try one on your plate along with your fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cool Arts & Crafts from Your Garden
Look no further than your garden for fun arts and crafts ideas. Many types of flowers can be dried and pressed to decorate cards or pictures hung on the wall. Why not create a memory piece?
Other flowers or herbs can be used for making essential oils which are beneficial in many ways. This is a great way to use your mint, lavender and rose. These make great homemade gifts for the holidays. If you aren’t familiar with Stephanie at Garden Therapy, she has lots of books teaching how to use what you grow in your garden in beauty products, gifts, aroma therapy and more. I recommend any of her books. I just starting reading Garden Alchemy that I highly recommend. The Natural Beauty Recipe Book and Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden and Your Life are a few more good ones.
Do you by chance have lots of trees in your yard that are always dropping branches like we do? The hubs is quite handy and has made some of the cutest most creative items for my gardens from junk tree limbs and branches that would otherwise go in the fire pit. You can check them out in Easy DIY Garden Decor Using Tree Branches.
Social Benefits of Gardening
Most people think of gardening as something that you usually do alone. But it’s actually a very social activity. I highly recommend connecting with other gardeners. There are always volunteer opportunities with your local garden club or Botanical Garden. Joining a group is a great way to make new friends with people who share your interest in gardening. You’ll also learn a lot from others and you’ll grow as a gardener.
Many years ago, I organized a group of gardeners from my church and we started gathering once a week at a different gardener’s home to tour their gardens. We have very fond memories of those garden gatherings and I’ve often think about organizing another garden gatherings group.
Additionally, many towns and cities have “Community Gardens”. There you can gather with other folks who live in your area to grow food together. If you don’t have room in your backyard to grow vegetables, the Community Garden is definitely the way to go. For a small fee, you’ll get your own plot to grow whatever you like, and you’re sure to have company on any given day. Many churches have plots for free as a ministry to the community.
So, are you surprised by the sheer number of benefits possible from a home garden? While certainly growing your own food for healthy living or having the most beautiful yard on the block is great, it’s only the beginning. The more time you spend in your garden, the more you’ll appreciate everything I’ve shared with you here. I love my vegetables and my flowers, but I also relish the many other benefits the garden gives back to me. And I can’t wait for you to experience it as well.
Go ahead and share this article! Send it to a friend that might be interested in gardening. If you have children that are telling you it’s time to give up your big garden, send it to them. Share it on Pinterest (pins to share below), or share it on Facebook. The world would be a much happier, cleaner and safer place if there were a bigger percentage of gardeners.
Which gardening benefit(s) were you surprised by? Likewise, is there a gardening benefit we missed that you would like to add, leave a comment and let us know. The comment form is at the bottom of the page.
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