Avid gardeners have long known that working the soil is good for you mentally and physically, and now a new study proves it. The National Institutes of Health report that a study looked into the benefits of gardening in regard to depression. The study asked depressed adults to participate in a 12-week horticulture program. The results? You guessed it! The program significantly decreased the severity of depression in participants, even three months after the study concluded. But why, exactly? What is it about spending time tending to your plants and flowers that makes the stress of the world, even clinical depression, melt away? Here are a few possible reasons:
A connection with nature
Everyone has busy, stressful lives, and it’s all too easy to become detached from the natural world around us and focus on everything that’s going wrong at work, our relationship troubles, bills, the latest headlines. But in the garden, working the soil, we’re communing with nature in an active way. It holds our attention and takes us away from the ills of the world.
A moment of Zen
Tasks in the garden lead us to focus on the present moment instead of fretting about the past or worrying about the future. We live in the now when we’re gardening.
Hoeing, raking, weeding and digging are repetitive motions, and that’s soothing to the sympathetic nervous system, which rules the “fight or flight” response. Too much stress, and the SNS is ratcheted up. Gardening soothes it.
The Zen nature of gardening has even led to it being used in therapy, like the study with depressed adults. But it goes beyond that, too. It’s being used in the prison system to help young offenders. Gardening is also being used in care facilities for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It has been useful for people dealing with PTSD.
Gardening has even been proven to boost the immune system! Time for some stress relief outside in the garden today!
Build a Wellness Garden
The pursuit of wellness should have a heightened awareness and be wholly celebrated in our outdoor living. The ‘Wellness Garden’ plant palette is a collection of warming fragrances, tactile textures, illuminating colors and even soothing sounds to create a state of wholeness with nature and self.
Homestead Gardens top picks for a wellness garden include:
Early season bulbs like Hyacinth, Daffodils and Tulips which offer a much-needed colorful glimpse of Spring’s imminent arrival.
Fragrant herbs like Lavender, Rosemary and Sage which provide a beautiful and soothing setting throughout the seasons.
Perennials like Catmint and Lilac provide stress-relieving aroma and long-lasting blooms throughout Summer.
The element of sound is crucial and must not be ignored when planning a wellness garden. Beyond plants, there are some man-made additions that will help create a calming environment. Consider adding soothing sounds with water fountains and wind chimes. Homestead Gardens offers a great selection of fountains that we can even install for you. Reduce stressful sound with hedges or trellises with climbing plants that will help block the sounds of the street and allow you to focus.
Ready to get started? If you’re in need of some extra help with planning or installing, Homestead Gardens has the help you need. Whether it’s a one-on-one coaching session one of our other Garden Coaches, OR a full-service design and planting by experts in our Landscape Division, we are here to help you!