The benefits

What social scientists and scientists tell us

Research has shown that gardening addresses many symptoms of mental ill-health and the broader associated difficulties. Benefits come from physical activity, practical skills development, inter-relational and personal integration, and the innate effects of being in contact with nature.

Gardening promotes a faster recovery from mental fatigue [1], improves sleep [2], improves concentration and memory [3], decreases anger [4] and stress levels [5], increases the ability to cope with stress [6], increases positive mood [7], decreases the reliance on anti-depressants [8] and the severity of depression and anxiety [9], and refocuses away from pain [10].

Working as a gardening community extends the gardeners’ social network [11] which increases the capacity to recover from disease [12], improves a sense of personal control in social settings [13], increases motivation [14], de-stigmatises by providing a new aspect to self-identity [15], increases a sense of belonging [16] and correlates to an increased positive relationships with others [17].

Growing plants and produce provides enjoyment for the tangible benefits of gardening [18], creates a sense of accomplishment and improves self-esteem [19], increases self-confidence [20], improves personal productivity [21], widens learning of a range of transferable life skills and correspondingly increases gardeners’ employability [22].

Caring for plants encourages creativity and self-expression [23], taking responsibility for oneself [24], reinforces a sense of personal agency [25], and powerfully reverses the dependency role sustained during illness [26].

Gardening offers many metaphors that can assist processing painful thoughts with positive framing [27], bring about hope from nature’s life cycles [28] and a sense of transition and change [29], create coherence in personal life-stories [30] and promote goal-oriented behaviour where needed [31]. Being in contact with nature grounds the gardener to be able to take manageable risks for change [32].