Whether your outdoor space is big or small, there are many health, social and economic benefits to gardening.
The economic benefits of gardening are multiple. A house with a neat front garden usually rents or sells quicker than one without. A home with a garden usually rents or sells for more. Gardens offer kerbside appeal which boosts the value of your property.
Gardens are an expense but unlike other pastimes, the investment is returned not just in enjoyment but in actual financial benefit: yields of cut flowers, herbs and vegetables can be very valuable
Scientists have estimated that a single garden tree with an average 50-year lifetime, generates €24,644 worth of oxygen, delivers €48,902 worth of air pollution control and will recycle €29,573 worth of water.
Urban and street planted trees enhance economic stability of localities and community by attracting businesses and tourists. People are known to linger and shop longer along tree-lined streets.
Businesses leasing office spaces in developments with trees find that kerbside appeal works and will have higher occupancy rates. While employers in such developments find their workers are more productive and absenteeism is reduced. Similarly interior landscaping of workspaces increases productivity and staff health.
The human eye can perceive more shades of green than of any other colour. Green triggers a response in the sympathetic nervous system to relieve tension in the blood vessels and lowers the blood pressure. Holistically it is ‘the healing colour’ and the colour of the heart chakra.
As an activity it is a means of aerobic, isometric and isotonic exercise, the combination of which benefits general health but specifically enhances strength, endurance and flexibility; thus increasing fitness levels as well as boosting the immune, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Mowing a lawn with a push mower for ½ hour duration burns approximately 243 calories in exertion – that is the equivalent quantity to the strenuous activity of chopping wood for a ½ hour. Turing a compost pile for approximately 15mins exertion can burn in excess of 100 calories. Lifting a gallon watering can, full of water in each hand is equivalent to 8 pound dumbbells.
The physicality of gardening not only benefits muscles, bones and organs but actually releases endorphins which help to alleviate stress and its side effects. A healthy portion of gardening will stimulate appetite and foster a good night's sleep. It is a positive and healthy activity for all age groups from children to senior citizens.
Gardening is a great provider of fresh air which revitalizes body and mind. Invigorating activity allows the lungs to fully avail of the better air quality of a garden. Remember that the garden is an oxygen-making machine. Photosynthesis is the process by which a plant makes food, part of the process entails plants removing co2 and other environmental gasses and pollutants from the air and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
The garden can provide the healthy benefits of SENSIBLE sun exposure: vitamin D ‘the sunshine vitamin’ is a hormone made by skin exposed to sunlight, which has been shown to act as a powerful inhibitor of abnormal cell growth. Cells in the colon, prostate and breast have similar mechanisms for the D hormone. Sunshine is also a mood booster. Remember not to overexpose your skin to sun.
Gardeners are more likely to eat a wider range of fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs than non-gardeners with resulting health benefits. Even if the gardener is not engaged in growing edible crops an inherent ‘gardener’s awareness’ of health and green issues develops.
Gardening enables a sense of accomplishment. It involves all the senses and engages the intellect and the physical body. It provides a pleasant pastime filled with opportunities for reward where reaping what you sow is an immense positive.
Gardening offers a relationship with nature which provides a sense of psychological wellbeing. It can engender a spiritual and metaphysical connection that offers solace or serenity; further boosting both physiological and physical health.
We know trees are the lungs of the world but a fast-growing forest tree will absorb up to 48 pounds of Co2 over a single year; approximately ten tons per acre of forestry – that is enough to offset the Co2 output produced by driving a car 33796 kilometres. The equatorial circumference of the earth is 40075km.
It is not just forests, over a single living year a mature garden tree will also absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs per annum and in the process will replenish the atmosphere with enough oxygen to support 2 human beings.
On a busy road a single Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) will remove 5200mg of lead, 60mg of cadmium, 140mg of chromium and 820mg of nickel from the environment in a single growing season. While our native Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) is one of the best trees at removing harmful particulates from the atmosphere.
Even a simple lawn provides fresh air: A 2.4 square meter patch of grass will daily convert enough carbon dioxide to supply the oxygen requirement of one person per day. And every garden plant is a bio-filtration system for the planet. They produce almost all of the oxygen content in the air we breathe. Remember too that Houseplants do for indoor air what garden plants do for the exterior atmosphere.
Plants Help modulate greenhouse gases via transpiration and other processes. By growing plants and trees on top of a landfill, a process known as 'Phytocapping', seriously reduces the production and release of methane and carbon gases.
They clean run off water that enters the water table and they can be utilized in reed bed systems to filter grey water for reuse around the home and even to recycle water for consumption.
Plants can prevent floods, droughts, and soil erosion and in ecopyschology and practical regeneration they help repair the landscape after natural and human disasters.
Plants feed us, medicate us, produce fuel, fabric and useful artefacts but are just as valuable in their creation of natural habitats and preservation of biodiversity. Wild and manicured urban gardens maintain biodiversity in cities and towns.
Gardening is often considered a solo pursuit but in fact has always been a social activity. You may garden alone with your thoughts and tranquillity as a pursuit, but what you create is the perfect venue for a coffee morning, a Sunday barbeque or occasion to share with friends and family.
There is a community amongst gardeners, we swap cuttings, seeds and knowledge, are happy to converse for hours about the season, future plans, past successes and failures. Gardening has always served as a way to break down some of the social barriers existing between neighbours, over the fence or in a community plot.
There are many clubs and societies that organise talks, demonstrations, field trips and social nights. Gardening brings people together.
Gardening is utilised to build teams and educate. Group social behaviour is modified by the presence of plants and participation in gardening activities. Green schools, allotments, community gardens, volunteer days at green space clean ups etc all unite people in a common cause, a pleasant activity and often a fun day.
There are socioeconomic benefits to the individual via community gardening such as improved Life quality, personal satisfaction and enjoyment, improved sense of well being including real health and fitness benefits. Improved diet through production of fresh food and vegetables also translates into positive psychological feeling of self-sufficiency and actual economic well-being.
Community gardens offer improved sense of well-being to individuals and to the community as a whole. They are gathering places for neighbours, where friendships and social cohesion develops promoting a community atmosphere and allowing people an opportunity to meet others, share concerns, share skills and even solve a few problems together.
Gardeners often visit other gardens, attend shows like Bloom, go to open days in historic houses. There is a gardening event calendar and a whole array of social opportunities to gardeners
There is great growth in online Gardening Social Networking with many websites and blogs providing an online community for gardeners to meet others who share their passion, to share information and discuss ideas.