5 ways urban gardening can improve your health and wellbeing in 2017

Published 10th January 2017 by Michelle

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a brilliant festive period. As we start 2017, you may have set resolutions and goals for the year ahead. One of my resolutions is to spend more time in my urban garden, since I know how good urban gardening is for my health, wellbeing and general happiness. I encourage anyone, no matter how little time or space they have, to grow something in 2017 – your urban garden can be a windowsill in your home full of tropical, low maintenance houseplants; or pots of flowers hanging from balcony railings, or vegetables growing in pots on a roof terrace, or succulents growing in an indoor wall planter – the possibilities are endless! And if you need a little more encouragement, here are my top 5 reasons why growing an urban garden can improve your health and wellbeing in 2017.

1\ Improving air quality in your home (and city)

Some houseplants have been proven by NASA to get rid of toxins from the air you breathe, such as the Peace Lily, Sansevieria and Boston Fern. Plants also cool the air and help control temperatures in cities which can be dangerous for health and the environment. So bringing plants into your home and outside space can improve the health of both you and your city!

Fill your home with plants that clean air, like this Peace Lily

2\ Benefiting your mental health  

The scientific evidence is clear – gardening is good for mental health:

• A recent study by Bakkar Spalding found that 88% of people find mental wellbeing is a key benefit of spending time in the garden.
• Furthermore, simply viewing plants has been shown to reduce fear, anger, blood pressure and muscle tension (Relf, 1992, p.161, Ulrich, 1979, Ulrich 1986).
• Berg and Custers (2011) also found that gardening improves recovery from stress.

What’s more, gardening gets you moving, rather than sitting, and we all know movement and exercise is good for mental health. Finally – and I don’t have research to back this up but this is my personal experience – gardening is a very mindful activity, one where you can literally stop and smell the roses, reconnect with the earth and be with nature. I never listen to music or podcasts while gardening, preferring to have my attention fully devoted to tending to my urban garden.

Urban gardening encourages you to literally stop and smell the roses!

3\ Giving you a space for relaxation

Creating an urban garden helps make maximum use of space in your home, and can afford you a specific spot for relaxation, and if you wish, for mediation, reflection and yoga. Imagine how amazing it would be to meditate or do yoga surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers! You can create a plant filled relaxation space indoors or outdoors, for more on how to create an outdoor urban serenity garden see this previous blog post.

Create an urban serenity garden to give you a space for relaxation

4\ Providing you with a creative outlet 

Gardening can be a really creative activity. You can make things using materials and produce from your garden, and you can also get creative when designing plant and flower displays. There are infinite combinations of colours, shapes and textures that can be combined in displays, and you can even select a theme to guide plant and flower choices – perhaps Japanese, French, Jurassic, or bright and bold colours? The options are endless…!

Previously on the blog we’ve covered how to make pesto, how to make herbal teas, and how to bake sweet and savoury goods using ingredients grown in your urban garden. We’ve also created a Moroccan themed roof top garden. Watch this space for many many more ideas on how to get creative with your urban garden throughout 2017.

Cook things (like pesto) using ingredients from your garden

Get creative with a theme - this roof garden was inspired by Morocco

5\ Enabling you to grow your own food and flowers  

Harvesting, cooking and eating your own fruit and vegetables is such a satisfying part of urban gardening, and this activity isn’t just reserved for outdoor spaces. This previous blog post shows you how to grow tomatoes, chillies and peppers indoors, and in a few weeks I’ll be showing you how to grow sprouts and micro greens in a matter of days on any windowsill!

As well as fruit and vegetables, you can also grow cut flowers in your urban garden, which is much more environmentally friendly than buying them from most florists, who tend to import flowers from abroad. It’s lovely to grow a few pots of flowers, cutting a few to put in water indoors, and leaving the rest to enjoy outside.

Grow your own veg...

...and flowers

I hope this has inspired you to grow something in 2017, and maybe even to create your own indoor or outdoor urban garden. Watch this space for loads more ideas coming your way throughout the year. Here’s to a good one!

Michelle x