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Garden Time Linked to Better Health and Well-Being

A new study shows a link between spending time in a garden and enhanced health and mental well-being.

For the study, researchers at the University of Exeter and the Royal Horticultural Society charity in the UK analyzed data from nearly 8,000 people collected by Natural England between 2009 and 2016.

The researchers found that people who spend time in a garden are significantly more likely to report general good health, higher psychological well-being, and greater physical activity levels than those who do not spend time in a garden.

The study found the benefits of gardening to health and well-being were similar to the difference in health between people living in the wealthiest parts of the country, compared to the poorest, the researchers added.

The benefits applied whether people spent their time gardening or simply relaxing, according to the study’s findings.

People who regularly spend time in their garden were also more likely to visit nature elsewhere once a week, the researchers noted.

The study also found that people with access to a private garden had higher psychological well-being. The researchers also discovered that people who have an outdoor space, such as a yard, were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines.

There is growing evidence that living in a greener neighborhood can be good for health and well-being, but most research has focused on public green spaces, such as parks and playing fields, the researchers noted. The current research used data collected by Natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey, the world’s largest survey collecting data on people’s weekly contact with the natural world.

“A growing body of evidence points to the health and well-being benefits of access to green or coastal spaces,” said Dr. Sian de Bel, of the University of Exeter Medical School and lead author of the study. “Our study is one of the largest to date to look at the benefits of gardens and gardening specifically. Our findings suggest that whilst being able to access an outdoor space such as a garden or yard is important, using that space is what really leads to benefits for health and well-being.”

“Gardens are a crucial way for people to access and experience the natural environment,” added project lead Dr. Becca Lovell of the University of Exeter Medical School. “Our new evidence highlights that gardens may have a role as a public health resource and that we need to ensure that their benefit is available equally.”

“This work adds to the increasing body of scientific evidence on the health benefits of gardens and gardening,” said Professor Alistair Griffiths, director of science and collections at the Royal Horticultural Society and co-author on the paper. “As the current COVID crisis has demonstrated, there’s an urgent need to include the provision of private gardens in the planning process to better support the UK’s preventative health agenda and the wellbeing of our nation.”

“In these unprecedented times, the government’s priority continues to be making sure people stay at home to help protect the NHS and save lives,” said Marian Spain, Interim Chief Executive of Natural England. “The benefits of spending time around nature during this time, be that in our back gardens or in local green spaces as part of our daily exercise, cannot be underestimated — and this research shines a light on the impact this has on people’s health and well-being.”

The study was published in Elsevier’s Landscape and Urban Planning.

Source: University of Exeter

Garden Time Linked to Better Health and Well-Being

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2020). Garden Time Linked to Better Health and Well-Being. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 May 2020 (Originally: 10 May 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 May 2020
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