The Unseen Benefits of Gardening

From boosting your mood to improving your health, there’s much more to gardening than a beautiful aesthetic.

There’s much more to gardening than just a beautiful aesthetic. Gardening is an incredibly healthy hobby and you probably don’t even realize it.

“To an individual, gardening is one of the most healthy hobbies you can have,” said Barbara Kreski, director of Horticultural Therapy Services at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “It’s cognitively stimulating and provides the moderate intensity that we should get. It stimulates all parts of your body.”

To shed some light on those unseen benefits, ESTATENVY spoke with Kreski and Tara Heibel—founder of Sprout Home, a home and garden retailer in Chicago and Brooklyn—about the health and economic benefits of gardening.

“Scroll through Instagram and you’re likely to see a friend or acquaintance posting images of their plants or home gardens. There’s been an uptick in people who are adopting gardening as a hobby,” Heibel said. “Once people get into gardening, it becomes less of a trend and more of a passion.”

Heibel stressed the importance of understanding that you’re taking care of another living thing.

“They grow with you,” she said.

But it’s important to understand that all plants are different and you need to know what kind of plant parent you want to be.

Heibel said that gardening can serve as an interconnect, that being involved with the growth of plants and fostering them is a very natural thing. She said that caring for plants adds to people’s lives, making it better.

“You have to be able to mold with your plants,” she said, adding that all plants are different and you need to know what kind of care it needs and work around that.

Kreski agreed that the contact with nature is healthy and helps reduce stress.

“Stress is a factor in everything,” she said. “Being in nature allows us to recover.”

It’s true what they say then that nature heals. A study by Roger Ulrich of Texas A&M University even proves this. He compared patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery who interacted with plans to those who didn’t. Patients with a view of trees had few complications, shorter post-operative stays and needed less pain medication than those who had only a view of a brick wall.

Plus, Kreski said, gardening provides fresh food. You can control the quality of your produce when you grow it yourself and it benefits society as a whole. There are more nutrients in home-grown gardens and it increases your physical activity. Kreski said the chemical run off from gardens is not as damaging as a lawn and that’s better for the environment.

According to a recent press release from the National Gardening Survey, about one out of three households participated in food gardening or flower gardening. The same press release stated that households spent about $3.6 billion in 2015 growing vegetables and fruits and $2.7 billion on flower gardening.

Gardening is definitely seeing an uptick in trendiness, and everything about it, Kreski said, is health promoting.

“It’s not an age related [hobby],” Kreski said. “Very young children like it and it can support their physical activity into elderly ages. It’s not identified as male or female and it covers the gamut of people who are interested in it.”