Planting seeds in a bare garden to add life and colour could reduce stress levels as much as eight weekly mindfulness sessions, a new study claims.
According to new research by the Royal Horticultural Society and a collaboration of Universities – including Sheffield, Westminster and Virginia – a greener front garden can also make you feel happier, more relaxed and closer to nature.
The four-year-long scientific research project added ornamental plants to previously bare front gardens in the economically deprived streets of Salford, in Greater Manchester.
The 42 residents who took part received:
- 1 tree (juniper or snowy mespilus)
- 1 shrub (azalea)
- 1 climber (clematis)
- sub-shrubs (lavender, rosemary)
- bulbs (daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops)
- bedding plants (petunia, viola) to fill 2 containers
By measuring the residents’ levels of the cortisol hormone before and after the plants were added, the research team were able to see if the greenery had any impact on their stress levels.
Perceived stress levels decreased by 6% after the introduction of the plants. Over half (52%) of the residents said their front garden helped them feel happier, 40% said it helped them be more relaxed and over one in four (26%) said it helped them feel closer to nature.
Professor Alistair Griffiths of the Royal Horticultural Society said: “With so many millions more people gardening after discovering a passion to grow during lockdown, the RHS hopes this research inspires more people to plant a few plants, from containers and window boxes to hedges and trees, in their street-side outside spaces.
“When we started this research four years ago and I first started thinking about it, the world was a very different place. Today life is even more stressful for so many, meaning the results of this experiment are more important than ever.
“This research highlights the essential role of private gardens and the horticulture and landscape industry in delivering natural capital that improves the health of our nation. Together we should all try to make a positive difference one plant at a time.”
The RHS has gathered their ideas for how you can improve your front garden here.
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