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The joy of gardening: how to embrace outdoor space to maximize well-being

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Original post here.

Having some outdoor space – whether that’s a courtyard, garden, or balcony – is a fantastic opportunity. Growing our own vegetables or plants, watching them thrive, or simply enjoying the sights and smells of nature – all of the activities associated with gardening – can really boost our mood. Spending time outdoors is great for our well-being, but gardening can give your time outside a greater sense of purpose. Even those without outdoor space can give nurturing certain fruits, vegetables, and plants a go, as they’ll grow on windowsills. In this guide, we explore the joy of gardening and how you can embrace it.

How popular is gardening?

From choosing the perfect plants for your garden to watching them grow, there's something truly special about spending time in the great outdoors surrounded by nature. Many people enjoy spending time outside, and gardening is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.

Gardening can also be very rewarding, as it allows you to see the fruits of your labor bloom before your eyes. For those with green thumbs, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of nurturing a plant from seed to flower. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just getting started, it's easy to see why gardening is such a popular pastime. In fact, studies have shown:

  • 55% of Americans enjoy gardening (Source: GardenPals)

  • 35% of U.S. households grow vegetables, fruits, and other food.

  • Children involved in growing vegetables are more willing to eat them.


Is gardening good for us?

Physical and wellbeing benefits of gardening

People enjoy their gardens for a number of reasons, whether that’s playing with their kids or hosting a barbecue. While plenty of people also enjoy gardening, for some it may be a case of getting the necessary chores done so they can sit back and enjoy the space. But do you know just how beneficial the activity of gardening can be for your health and wellbeing?

Exercise Without a doubt, gardening keeps us active. Activities associated with gardening – such as planting, pulling weeds, and mowing the lawn – can all boost our cardiovascular health and fitness. Spend enough time digging, weeding and trimming, and you’ll soon work up a sweat. In fact, the calories burned from 30 minutes of gardening are nearly comparable to playing badminton or practising yoga. And because gardening is low-impact, it’s a great form of exercise for people who are looking for less intensive exercise options.

Self-esteem Seeing the success of your hard work in the garden can provide a real sense of accomplishment. Not only are you creating a space for you and your family to enjoy, gardens planted with diversity in mind are incredibly important for local environments. Well-balanced gardens can help ecosystems thrive, which is something you should feel good about.

Mood Gardening is associated with relieving stress and increasing relaxed feelings. This RHS survey includede around 6,000 people and discovered a significant association between gardening more frequently and improvements in wellbeing, perceived stress and physical activity. The research also revealed those who garden every day have wellbeing scores 6.6% higher and stress levels 4.2% lower than people who don’t garden at all.

Family bonding Why not get your whole family involved in gardening? It’s a chance to spend some time together in the fresh air. Gardening is a very versatile activity – it can be as simple or as complex as you like. If you have little ones, they can help with planting seeds or pulling weeds. Older kids might want to learn how to operate a lawn mower or use a trowel. And everyone can enjoy the satisfaction of watching their garden grow.

The value of spending time outside If you’re not yet convinced of the joy of gardening, you can still embrace many of the benefits simply by spending more time outdoors. In a government survey conducted in the U.K., it was found that:

  • 94% of adults felt that spending time outdoors was good for their physical health

  • 82% of adults reported that being in nature made them very happy, indicating high levels of nature connection among respondents

Spending time outside can sometimes help improve our wellbeing, for example a short walk in the park or a short time spent gardening can make a difference.


Tips for gardening

The average gardener spends nearly two hours a week keeping on top of gardening jobs. This may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a year this includes:

  • 15 hours a year mowing the lawn

  • 13 hours weeding

  • 8 hours re-painting sheds and fences

  • 45 hours watering plants/flowers

  • 9 hours trimming hedges

  • 4 hours jet washing patios

Of course, these are all averages. Most homeowners with a garden will need to spend some time keeping their space well-maintained, but the amount of time needed will vary depending on the garden you have. A lawn with limited planting will not require the same amount of work as someone with bordering planting and a small vegetable patch, for example. Most gardeners will be happier spending more time pottering in their garden over the spring and summer months when the weather is better too.

But whether you consider yourself a seasonal gardener or would simply like to make more out of your space, we’ve put together some gardening tips targeted at those who have a garden, as well as people who may have limited or no outside space.

Design a garden that suits the amount of time you want to spend gardening

You may appreciate highly manicured gardens, but do you have the time to dedicate to maintaining one yourself? Think about how much time you’d enjoy spending gardening and plan your garden around that.

Plan ahead for the seasons

Any experienced gardener will tell you that one of the keys to success is planning ahead. This is especially true when it comes to the changing seasons. For example, if you want to enjoy blooming flowers in spring, you need to plant the bulbs earlier. By planning ahead and taking into account the growing cycle of plants, you can ensure that your garden is always in peak condition.

Consider what your garden will look like all-year round

Many of us find ourselves with a sudden urge to get outside and start gardening when it’s warmer. However, it's important to take a step back and consider what you want your garden to look like all year round, not just in the springtime. If you live in an area with cold winters, you'll need to choose plants that can withstand frosty temperatures for months at a time. If you're looking for something to brighten up those dark winter days, you might want to consider planting some evergreens or holly bushes.

Consider what you’re planting and where

Before you select your plants, be sure to do some research or read the instructions on the seed packets or nursery tags. Think about where you want to add planting and how much light the spot gets throughout the day, as well as the soil type. Research should give you critical information on what conditions each plant will thrive in, as well as how deep to plant the seeds or how far apart to space the plants.

Prepare the soil before planting

Once you've found the perfect spot, it's time to start preparing the soil. If you're starting with an existing lawn, you'll need to remove the grass and weeds. If you're starting from scratch, you'll need to till the soil and add some compost or other organic matter.

Think about garden security

When considering the layout of your garden, think about what you’re planting along your boundaries and how that impacts security. Lower hedges may be better so that you have visibility over your garden, for example. Having a secure garden shed also allows you to lock away any garden valuables, such as tools.


If you live in a flat or apartment without a garden

How can those who do not have a yard or garden enjoy the benefits of gardening and spending time outdoors without their own private space? Well, areas least likely to have a private garden are most likely to live close to a public park, according to data, so there’s the opportunity to visit public gardens and open spaces.

You can also consider how to utilize other space which may be available, including:


Even the smallest of balconies can be used for gardening. You can hang certain pots and planters over ledges to maximise the space you have. You’ll be surprised what wildlife, including birds and butterflies, you may start seeing from your windows.


Gardening vertically is the answer for anyone with very limited space. Use wall planters or mounts, flower pot rings, or incorporate the use of wall vases to make use of any outside wall space.


If you don’t have space outside, a lot of indoor plants thrive in pots on windowsills or other locations. You can choose the right indoor plants to suit the conditions of your home – how much natural light you have, whether you’d like them to be low maintenance, and so on.

Communal gardens

A lot of apartments have communal space outside, but it often goes unused and unloved. Why don’t you suggest planting some low maintenance shrubs or flowers for everyone to enjoy? You could even put some seating to encourage people outside.


Post republished here for the benefit and entertainment of Viva Vita viewers.

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