How refreshing is the smell of newly cut grass? The taste of fresh produce straight from your back yard? The warmth of the morning sun, while listening to the bees enjoying your latest blooms? Our gardens can be the source of great joy, relaxation, and satisfaction. Gardening is a great way to increase your overall wellbeing including physical fitness, mental health, and social inclusion. Gardening can also be physically demanding and time consuming, so how can we get the balance right?
Several studies have found that gardening, or just being in the garden, has multiple benefits. These studies found there where physical benefits of getting out and engaging in gardening, such as improved strength, fitness, and flexibility (Scott et al. 2020), but also social benefits from interacting with others, such as in a community garden. There are also many benefits for the individual’s mental health that comes with looking after a garden, such as emotional regulation, stress relief, creativity, and sense of purpose (Wang & MacMillan, 2013).
As I’m sure you are aware, gardening can be a laborious task! And when things get hard, they often become less fun. Therefore, we are going to run through some ideas to help break down gardening so you can get the most pleasure from your hard work.
Some gardening tasks (or gardens) are too big to manage yourself or they may require machinery or time spent on a ladder, therefore it may be best to engage some external help. Contact your local council to enquire about gardening services available, they may have one off supports in place to help remove tripping hazards such as grass or roots growing over walkways or trees hanging over gutters. The council may also be able to point you in the direction of local private gardening companies that offer regular gardening assistance. If you have a Home Care Package, you may be eligible for gardening assistance, speak with your provider to find out.
Equipment may also help to increase the ease of a gardening task. There are many options available including gardening tools with long handles to reduce bending in the back and knees, a gardening stool to provide support to help you get on and off the ground, as well as providing padding under the knees. Also consider a ride on or self-propelling lawn mower to reduce the physical exertion required to get the closest cut! Check out this link for some examples as shown below.
Creating a low maintenance gardening space will help to reduce the physical strain of the task while still giving you the enjoyment of gardening. Here’s some ideas:
- Raised garden beds, or pots on tables to reduce bending.
- Select plants based on their maintenance needs, such as low watering and no pruning required.
- Use weed spray or weed matts to reduce the amount of weeding needed.
Create a gardening routine and stick to it. For instance, choosing a different section of the garden to focus on each day/week to reduce feeling overloaded with work, break larger tasks down into smaller sections and include rest periods. For example Monday: water vegetables, Tuesday: water lawns, Wednesday: water pot plants.
So, how are you going to spend your garden time today? For a 5-minute rest break idea, try this mindfulness activity to awaken your senses and leave you feeling centred and in the moment. Spend one minute focusing on each sense:
What can I see?
What can I hear?
What can I smell?
What can I feel?
What can I taste?