Positive mental health, Teen Mental Health, Wellbeing, Children & Adolescents

22 April, 2021

Connecting with ourselves and nature: the benefits of gardening

This image shows a young woman in a garden holding hands covered in soil up to the camera.We’ve all been spending more time outdoors and in nature over the last year, and many of us are appreciating our gardens and green spaces in new ways.

Andrea Gallagher, Occupational Therapist with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, talks us through how everyone – including young people – can benefit from setting some time aside for gardening.

Benefits of gardening

Benefits of gardening

Gardening is not just for the experienced green thumb. People of all ages can benefit from gardening.

Here are the top reasons why gardening is good for wellbeing.

Spending time in nature

Exposure to fresh air, sunlight, green spaces and plants connects you to nature. Spending time immersed in nature is can lift mood, destress, and promote relaxation.

Doing something enjoyable

Making time for pleasurable activities and hobbies is an important part of wellbeing. Growing your own plants is rewarding and gives a sense of accomplishment which can boost confidence and self-esteem.

Engaging the senses

When immersed in nature, you notice vibrant colours, feel different textures, and enjoy natural sounds and smells; this all allows you to be present in the moment and feel grounded, calm and relaxed.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle

Planting, digging, watering and general garden care promotes physical activity, and a healthy diet is more enjoyable when growing and eating your own fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Connecting with others

Gardening with friends and family develops social connections and can introduce you to others with shared interests.

Building resilience

We learn to thrive along with our plants! Many gardening skills help to develop resilience, or the ability to cope with and overcome difficulties. Gardening involves trial and error which builds resilience through taking initiative, adapting to change, being patient, feeling in control, and having hope.

How to start gardening

How to start gardening

Getting into gardening can start small, but quickly bring big benefits – and you don’t need to be an expert or have a huge amount of space available. At the Willow Grove Adolescent Unit in SPMHS, for example, we’re working with young people to create and support a lovely green space in our courtyard, giving somewhere to relax and connect with and nature.

If you’re new to gardening, here are some tips to get you going:

  • Start with a small and manageable gardening project, then build on it as you develop your skills and confidence
  • Be creative with the space and resources you already have. If you don’t have access to a garden space, use small areas of light on patios, or even a windowsill that could fit a container. Many flowers, herbs and vegetables grow well in pots
  • Ask family and friends for their tips: they may have great ideas to help start your garden or time to lend a helping hand. Also, doing an activity together can add to the fun
  • Enjoy the process of “doing” and get the most out of your gardening by surrounding yourself with your favourite colours, smells, textures and materials.

More supports

More supports

For further information, check out some of your local gardening resources and communities below.