Health Care Lifestyle Mental Health

Health Benefits of Spring Gardening

A black couple outside gardening with an assortment of terracotta pots with plants.

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“You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

-Isaiah 58:11

Have you ever felt a rush when you step outside on a beautiful spring day? Did you feel more grounded when you felt the earth with your hands? Gardening is one of the world’s most beloved pastimes — and for good reason. It offers many mental and physical health benefits and can help us feel whole.

Learn more about the health benefits of gardening and why spring is the perfect time to start.

Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

With winter finally over, you can feel energized by the sun and ready for life in color again. That’s where gardening comes in. Whether you’re a novice or experienced gardener, tending your own little slice of nature can bring numerous mental and emotional health benefits, including:

  • Growth mindset: If gardening is new for you, it offers a chance to, literally, grow a novel skill; this practice can help you flex mental muscles as you learn from your mistakes and apply your new skills for a better yield each time
  • Improved mood: Spending time in nature — whether you’re listening to birdsong or breathing in the smell of fresh-cut grass — can ease life’s many stresses. And when it comes to gardening specifically, studies show there’s a lot to be said for having your hands in the dirt. In fact, microbes in the soil cause your body to produce more serotonin, which helps you feel relaxed and happy. Caring for plants can also help focus your attention when you feel distracted or pulled in too many directions
  • Mindfulness: Gardening offers a chance to center on being present in the moment. While you’re in your garden, you’re more likely to really see, touch, smell and taste. You can also take it with you when it’s time to go back inside, stealing a few more precious moments of joy and quiet. Try picking your flowers to create a beautiful arrangement or pick fresh veggies for a garden-to-table dinner salad
  • Reduced stress: With physical activity and time spent outside, gardening can release any stress you may be feeling
  • Social connection: If you opt for a community garden, you’ll have the chance to meet others with similar interests and engage in your common hobby

Physical Health Benefits of Gardening

In addition to supporting mental health, gardening also can improve your physical health. Gardening activities, like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and moving mulch, can improve your strength and cardiovascular endurance over time.

For gardeners planting a vegetable patch, your eating habits will be influenced by having fresh, nutritious produce at your fingertips, supporting a healthier diet. Consider planting vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach. You can also consider growing herbs like basil, thyme and parsley to add a healthy burst of flavor to your dishes.

How to Get Started Gardening

If you’re thinking about starting gardening as a hobby, here are a few suggestions:

  • Start small: Gardening doesn’t have to mean cultivating a full vegetable patch or flower garden. Kick things off with a pot of flowers or herbs — and go bigger from there
  • Research what you want to plant: If you’re starting your garden from scratch, you’ll want to find plants that work for your climate and that bring you joy; make sure to read more about your chosen plants, like if they require sun or shade and how often they need to be watered
  • Consider composting. Get healthy, nutrient-rich soil for your plants to thrive in with your leftover food scraps
  • Spend time with your plants every day. Even if only for a few minutes, take time each day to see how your garden is growing and feel pride in your progress

As you get started in your garden, be sure to take a few steps to protect yourself, including purchasing gardening gloves, washing your tools regularly and wearing sunscreen. Check for harmful bugs like ticks and plants like poison ivy. And of course, wash your hands whenever you wrap up your time outside.

Let Your Garden Grow

From gardening and volunteering to taking time for personal reflection each day, you know best how to take care of yourself. But when you need a little extra support, AdventHealth’s behavioral health specialists are here to help you reclaim your joy and feel like your best self again. Learn more.

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