Gardening is an activity that people enjoy all over the world, and it is something that can be done on a large or small scale. It is a great activity someone can do by themselves or with others, building memories along the way. Gardening offers some great benefits, such as a boost in physical and mental health, access to fresh produce, forming a connection with the environment, and contributing to cleaning up the Earth.
Growing your own food can be a little daunting at first, but it is something most people can do right at home. Starting a garden will look different for everyone based on location, available space, and budget, but there are many different options to choose from. Indoor gardening has gained popularity in recent years, as it is an affordable hobby that can brighten up your home. It’s just about making use of the space available to you. You can start small by using a balcony, planting by a small window, or using grow lights. The go-to for these scenarios is usually some form of container gardening, which is growing the plants in containers you have at home or store-bought ones that can be found in stores with a gardening centre.
Gardening can also be done outdoors, and of course, Canadians love being outside in the summer, so gardening can be a great outdoor activity for those who have the space. Outdoor gardening comes with many of the same benefits as indoor gardening, but with a few differences. Physical exercise is more prevalent in outdoor gardening, as digging into topsoil can be quite the workout! It is also limited to warmer months, at least in Canada, since our winters can be quite harsh. Regardless of where you grow your garden, it is a hobby and escape that can be enjoyed by all.
In a US study, 144 gardeners were interviewed and asked about why they garden. The most popular answer was recreation, followed by mental health.(1) The mental health side of gardening is quite extensive. The environment someone is in can really influence the way a person is feeling. A Japanese study found that it is more beneficial physiologically to view a green hedge than a concrete fence.(2) Therapy has been using gardens for treatment for quite some time, as it has been proven that being in a green space reduces negative emotions like stress, fear, and sadness.(3) The overall mood and environment a garden creates is calming and puts the mind at ease. The physical activity required for gardening also has rehabilitative uses in many fields of treatment, such as physical pain, rehabilitation for motor and speech skills, dementia, and hospice care.(1) Physical exercise can also give your mental health a boost. This is because when you exercise, your body produces serotonin and releases endorphins, leaving you feeling happy and healthy!
The Earth can also benefit from gardening, as an activity that is done right in your backyard or home can help clear up the atmosphere. In 2015, a study submitted by the David Suzuki Foundation found that green spaces in urban areas provided cooler and cleaner air on the site of large green spaces, such as parks.(4) Cities can be affected by what is called the heat island effect; this is when large areas of what used to be natural cover is replaced with large amounts of cement and materials that retain heat.(5) A study done by the University of Manchester reported that just a 10 per cent increase in green spaces within a city can reduce the average temperature by 4 ºC.(6) Biodiverse green spaces can filter ground level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter which unilaterally boosts air quality in the area.(4) Gardening should be encouraged everywhere, especially in urban areas, as more vegetation can benefit not only the environment but the overall well-being of the community.
Gardening offers people a great opportunity to get outdoors or enjoy the activity on a smaller scale indoors. Along with being a very versatile hobby, it can benefit mental health and offer consistent exercise. Partaking in this great community will not only benefit yourself but also allow you to become a custodian for the environment and help in restoring our atmosphere. This season, give gardening a try—you might just love it!