Mental Health Benefits: Why gardening is good for your mind

Stressed? Anxious? Our Ambassador Mark Lane explains gardening has helped him in the video below.

'Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.’ 

Whoever came up with this quote was definitely on to something. Gardens are special peaceful spaces with restorative qualities that can work wonders when we are stressed and under pressure.

Stress is a worldwide 21st century problem that can cause physical problems such as higher blood pressure, muscle tension and digestive problems, while long-term stress can lead to serious health issues including depression and anxiety.

However, there’s growing evidence that gardening can benefit our mental health, an important consideration at a time when the NHS is stretched and one in four adults are experiencing mental illness. 

Stress reduction

Research in Sweden, for example, found that the more people used their gardens, the fewer incidents of stress they suffered. 

A report in the Mental Health Journal cited gardening as being able to reduce stress and improve mood, with a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Gardeners themselves agree:
  • Out of 317 people who took part in table-top gardening sessions run by Thrive across Berkshire, Hampshire and south Oxfordshire, 80 per cent reported better mental health as a result, with 93 per cent saying they had improved their confidence and motivation.
  • Across the pond in Philadelphia, 144 gardeners were asked for the reasons they did it and mental health was second to recreation as the most important factors. 

While gardens can be relaxing, they can also be places where our efforts result in a real sense of achievement, boosting confidence and self-esteem.

There’s also good evidence that just looking at a green space has positive effects on people’s mental health, helping them relax and de-stress.

Did you know? 
Patients recovering from operations who had views of plants and trees experienced reduced surgical complications, improved mood and shorter stays in hospital.


Gardening has so much potential for people with defined mental health needs, offering an enormous range of activities and options, more so than any other type of therapeutic activity. 

Thrive works with people aged from 14 to 94 with life-long or long-term mental and physical health needs, as well as those recovering from illness and accidents.

Our Horticultural Therapists design gardening programmes that are tailored to individuals’ needs, working with them to set goals that will improve their health and wellbeing. We call this process Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH)

STH and similar green care interventions can: 

  • Reduce depression, anxiety and stress-related symptoms
  • Alleviate the symptoms of dementia, such as aggressive behaviour
  • Increase the ability to concentrate and engage
  • Reduce reliance on medication, self-harming behaviour 

If you’re interested in finding out if Thrive could help you, or someone you know, email us at

Tips for easier gardening - Seed sowing

Hands sowing seeds with compost tray

Whether you are sitting or standing to sow seeds, make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height.

Get a compost tray or if you don't have one a washing-up bowl will do, so you don't make a mess with the compost.

Sow your seeds into a modular seed tray filled with compost which means you won't have to prick out the seedlings. These modular trays are divided into separate cells so that you sow one seed per cell.

When ready, lift seedlings out for potting up or planting out according to the guidance on the seed packet.

Find out more

Gardening with a disability? 

 Carry on Gardening website has lots more practical tips to help you continue gardening. 
  Social Benefits

Read about the benefits of social contact through gardening or go back to our It's Not Just Gardening campaign page.
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