In the past months, while we were all confined inside our homes due to the pandemic, many forgotten hobbies resurfaced and gained a new wave of popularity, including gardening. It is no secret that spending time outside, around sunlight and nature, is beneficial for mental wellbeing, and a new study conducted at Princeton and published in Landscape and Urban Planning confirms there is a proven connection between caring for plants and a positive mood.
The study, which was carried out prior to the pandemic, surveyed 370 people living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area regarding their happiness levels throughout the day. 118 out of the 370 participants engaged in home gardening. Out of all the activities mentioned in the surveys, ranging between work and leisure, gardening ranked 4th in regards to the happiness it provides. In fact, it was found to brink people similar levels of satisfaction to dining out, riding a bike, and going on a walk.
Interestingly, the Emotional Well-Being (EWB) was higher for vegetable gardeners than that of ornamental gardeners. It might have to do with the fact that gardening, in general, was ranked the second most meaningful activity. “The high levels of meaningfulness that respondents reported while gardening might be associated with producing one’s own food,” researcher Graham Ambrose said.
“The boost to emotional wellbeing is comparable to other leisure activities that currently get the lion’s share of infrastructure investment. These findings suggest that, when choosing future wellbeing projects to fund, we should pay just as much attention to household gardening.”
The benefits of gardening were equally notable for people who live in the suburbs and those who live in the city, and there was no difference between people who gardened alone and those who did so with others. Furthermore, “Household gardening is the only activity, in this study, where women and low-income participants report higher EWB than men and medium/high-income participants respectively,” the authors explained.
The popularity of gardening has been on a steady rise in recent years, with more and more young people discovering the benefits of this hobby. A 2017 research article has shown that millennials spend more money on plants and gardening equipment than their parents. The Covid-19 pandemic and mass lockdowns have further awakened a concern about food supply and self-sustainability. The ability to grow your own fresh produce as well as get the satisfaction from nurturing a tiny seed into something beautiful are empowering people worldwide to engage in gardening.
If you’re a beginner gardener or would like to experiment with gardening, check out our previous gardening tips articles listed below, get inspired, and start growing!