New research suggests gardening improves mental health

Need an excuse to spend more time in the garden? Or perhaps need a reason to get out your green thumb for the first time?

Old and new research shows that getting out in the garden is beneficial for mental and physical health – particularly for those settling in to an unfamiliar place.

Stephen Kaplan from the department of psychology at the University of Michigan published an article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggesting spending time outdoors, in the garden or in nature, has many restorative benefits on mental and physical wellbeing. 

A new study on the Myanmar refugee community in regional Australia also revealed how gardening can have a significant positive impact on the mental health of people who have faced severe trauma and are now settling in an unfamiliar place. 

Tatiara local gardener and landscaper Louise Hannemann has been gardening since 1988, and agrees with the research findings. She told the Chronicle gardening makes you look forward rather than backward and helps one’s optimism. 

“Gardening is a wonderful therapy to help your mental state of being as it takes your mind away from your problems,” she said. 

“You get out into the fresh air and do some physical exercise with something tangible. 

“You get your hands dirty, feel tired and your muscles ache, but at least you have achieved something for the day.”

Mrs Hannemann said gardening helps her feel more connected to nature and helps establish a sense of belonging. 

“Gardening helps one move with the seasons, learn how local soil works and understand what plants we can grow in the Tatiara,” Mrs Hannemann said. 

“It also gives you a sense of place and belonging when you have a garden in which to plan, implement and nurture your own interpretation of nature.”

Mrs Hannemann said she enjoys the sense of achievement that also comes with gardening. 

“It is such a joy to see a favourite plant come into flower or see the whole garden start to grow again after the hot summer.”

“It is a most enjoyable thing to do on a glorious day!”