Whether you’re walking in an arboretum during the Cherry Blossom Festival or tending your own lawn, it’s hard to deny that gardens, in general, have a certain universal appeal. There’s something about the presence of gardens in our lives that brightens our sometimes dismal, modern world. Much of this has to do with something intrinsic in human beings: an innate appreciation of the natural world. But why is gardening so important to our lives and culture, and how can it help the environment?
Why is gardening important?
Gardening is good for a great many things. It can be good for your health, good for your soil, and good for the wildlife in your backyard. It’s a great way to relieve stress, to set goals for yourself, and to nurture something. On top of all that, growing your own produce is a great way to become more sustainable at home and to reduce your environmental impact.
Gardening also happens to be a great hobby. It's something that you can do season after season, year after year, and into your twilight years. Even if you don’t have robust flower beds or a vast back garden, you can still find ways to garden indoors and on a smaller scale. This makes gardening a versatile hobby, as well as a healthy one.
Why is gardening important for your health?
Gardening comes with a myriad of well-documented health benefits. The most obvious of these has to do with the fact that quite a bit of gardening is done outdoors. Exposure to sunlight increases your vitamin D, which is good for bones, teeth, and muscles. And speaking of muscles, gardening is a great form of low-impact exercise — high impact if you’re hefting huge pots or wheelbarrows of soil around.
In terms of mental health, gardening has also been shown to decrease the risk of dementia and as a type of therapy for those already suffering from it, according to a study published by the journal Psychiatry Investig. This might have to do with the mental health benefits we experience just being in nature. Gardens, by virtue of the human-made nature of their construction, allow us a means to connect to nature in a sort of self-determined way.
Why is gardening important for your mood?
Many studies have found that gardening can boost one’s mood. I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but gardening makes me feel great. Even after spending hours pulling weeds and planting new vegetables every spring, I feel like my demeanor is far brighter than it was when I first pulled on my gardening gloves that day.
This isn’t just because you feel like you’ve accomplished something either — though that does help. As reported by Quartz, several studies have found that exposure to a specific bacteria commonly found in soil can increase levels of serotonin in the human brain. Serotonin is a chemical that increases feelings of well-being or happiness.
Why is gardening important to the environment?
Gardens are important to the planet because, despite being human-made, they represent a natural environment. Plants and trees grow there, taking in carbon and releasing oxygen. The roots of these plants stabilize the soil and filter water. Municipal gardens and national parks become safe havens for all manner of wild creatures that might have been otherwise displaced by the endless urban sprawl of the modern world.
Birds, bugs, and bees — especially honey bees — are essential to the lifecycle of the world at large. Bees are one of the most important pollinators in this group but they aren’t the only ones. Your backyard garden is bound to have its own native pollinators and your garden is a great way to coax them back into your life. They’ll help your flowers look nicer, keep your perennials coming back, and help your vegetable garden to flourish.
Why is gardening important for your community?
If you live in an urban or suburban area but lack the space for a backyard garden, you may not be alone. Community gardens are a great way to build togetherness within a community. Working together to split responsibilities, upfront costs, and the fruits of your labor, can help you understand and appreciate your neighbors in ways you might not have thought possible.
Why is gardening important to your daily life?
Your health, your frame of mind, your community, and the environment — if those are not enough reasons for why gardening is important, we have a few more to give you. Gardening can also be important for your wallet, nutrition, and environmental footprint.
By growing your own sustenance, your diet becomes more sustainable, since your food won't have to travel more than a few feet to get to your plate (as opposed to store-bought produce, which can sometimes be flown in from other countries). If your thumb is particularly green, you’ll probably save more money than you realize by harvesting your own fruits and veggies — and by growing your produce organically, it could be healthier than the conventional produce you may otherwise buy at the store.
Why is gardening important to your family?
On top of all that, gardening is a great hobby that you can share with your children. Teaching them to nurture a living thing and to be responsible for their own segment of the environment are great lessons to pass down. My own grandparents have imparted their gardening secrets through the generations and those lessons have taught me much about patience, preparedness, and the nature of nature in my own backyard. They are secrets I plan to teach my own children in due course.