It’s no surprise that spending time in nature or in a garden has direct benefits to your mental health and overall wellness. It’s grounding, healing, and therapeutic. It pries us from our desks for a reprieve from daily responsibilities. It’s imperative to spend time outside, and the research proves it. Data reveals that exposure to green space (such as a garden) reduces the risk of various chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Simply put, it makes you healthier. Beyond our physical health, spending time in nature also improves our mental wellbeing, social ties, and financial stability. Here in Colorado, there’s always an excuse to get outside—sun or snow. Spending time in nature is just one of the benefits of gardening for mental health. Read on to learn more.
Gardening for Overall Wellness
Speaking of the outdoors, gardening is a wonderful way to get your hands dirty, learn a new skill, and nourish your body. Whether you have space for a raised garden bed or have limited room for windowsill herbs, gardening is beneficial for your overall health. It combines physical activity with social interaction and exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D—from sunlight—lowers blood pressure, supports hormones, and strengthens immunity.
Furthermore, what you’re growing has a positive impact on your diet. When you have fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs in your backyard, you’re much more likely to reach for these ingredients when you’re cooking. Whole foods are filled with a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Plus, they taste remarkably fresh. After all, produce picked at peak season is more nutritious and flavorful.
Gardening for Financial Health
In addition to supporting your physical, mental, and social health, gardening also helps you save money. Here’s how it works: A well-maintained food garden yields roughly ½ pound of produce per square foot, every growing season (according to the National Gardening Association). With a 600-square foot garden, for example, you could save roughly $600 on groceries, every year. That’s impressive. Here in Colorado, a few of the best crops to grow in your backyard are leafy greens (microgreens, chard, kale, etc.), tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots, potatoes, summer squash, and green beans. For a full list, along with growing tips, check out Nick’s Garden Center.
Small Space Gardening
If you don’t have a backyard — or your backyard doesn’t get much sun — you can still grow veggies and herbs. Small space gardening is very doable, it just requires a bit of creativity. Luckily, companies like Gardyn and Lettuce Grow offer vertical gardens that can live in your home (including a studio apartment!). If you have any east-facing windows, these are great for growing herbs. Mint, rosemary, basil, chives, parsley, and thyme grow especially well on windowsills. These herbs can be used in marinades, pasta salads, dips, sauces, grain bowls, and more.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or feel inspired to start your first garden, growing your own produce has a myriad of health benefits. From building self-esteem to engaging with neighbors who share the same passion, gardening creates strong communities, strengthens physical health, boosts mental well-being, and reinforces financial prosperity.