Garden Is Therapy: 6 Ways Gardening Makes You Happy

Garden therapy already existed in its basic features in ancient Egypt – and even today gardening can help us to become happier and more relaxed. We’ll explain how.

Currently, public life is severely restricted. For many who have their own garden, it became all the more important during the corona pandemic – this was the result of a study conducted by Geisenheim University. In addition, garden owners surveyed were on average more satisfied than people without a garden.

This may be due to the fact that garden owners are on average wealthier. But the comeback of garden therapies suggests that gardening actually makes people happy and can support psychological healing processes. We give you five reasons for this and tips on how you can be happy even without your own garden.

1: Garden therapy thanks to vitamin D

Im Garten können wir unseren Vitamin-D-Speicher auffüllen.

The Geisenheim University survey also showed that garden owners spend twice as much time outdoors on average as people without a garden. This does not necessarily make gardeners happier or garden therapy a panacea. However, there are indications of a connection between vitamin D levels and mental health: they are often very low in depressives. Moreover, increasing vitamin D levels can apparently alleviate symptoms of depression or reduce the risk of developing it.

Our body produces vitamin D mainly with the help of UV-B radiation from sunlight. To have sufficient vitamin D, we should spend time outdoors every day. A garden offers a good opportunity for this.

2: Exercise in the garden therapy

There is always plenty to do in the garden. When gardening, we use our whole body in a variety of ways – usually not very hard but over a long period of time. For people who tend to move less in everyday life, garden therapy is therefore a good balance. In addition, studies show that exercise increases mental health and well-being.

3: Mindfulness and deceleration

The garden can be seen, heard, felt, smelled and tasted – we experience it with all our senses. Scientifically, it is probably difficult to fathom whether and how this makes garden therapy happy. However, experiencing it with all the senses makes it easier to be mindful and focus entirely on one thing.

For example, reach into the soil. You see its color and that it is interspersed with pebbles and roots. You feel it cool and damp on your skin and smell its deep aroma. Meanwhile, birds chirp around you and leaves rustle in the wind.

Together with repeated simple movements (for example, when planting seedlings), gardening can thus have a meditative effect. In addition, processes in the plant world tend to be slow and repeat themselves year after year – this can also have a decelerating effect on gardeners.

4: Garden therapy through good bacteria

Numerous microorganisms live in the soil. Among them is Mycobacterium vaccae – a bacterium that increases serotonin levels, at least in depressives. You breathe it in, for example, when you dig in the soil.

5: Experience self-efficacy

Im Garten ziehst du Pflanzen groß und erlebst dadurch Selbstwirksamkeit.

Gardening can be exhausting – and not just physically: sometimes nature is unpredictable. The wind snaps off flowers, slugs nibble at the lettuce, and the apple tree has some kind of disease. Not everything in the garden succeeds at the first attempt. But it is through mastering these challenges that garden therapy fosters a sense of self-efficacy. In the end, you’ll be proud of all the things you’ve created in your garden, despite wind, weather or pests: from beautiful flowers to aromatic herbs, fruits and vegetables.

6: Garden therapy without your own garden

You don’t have your own garden, but you still want to benefit from the advantages of garden therapy? No problem! Even without a garden of your own, nature offers a wide range of possibilities:

You don’t need your own garden to grow plants. Many thrive on the balcony, a windowsill or even in a shady corner of the room. For example, you can start a small herb garden on the balcony or plant tomatoes, and in the apartment, low-maintenance houseplants provide splashes of color and a better indoor climate.

In many areas there are allotment gardens that you can apply for. However, the waiting time is sometimes very long.
Go out into nature and take a walk in the woods – in Japan, “forest bathing” is a form of therapy. You can’t do any gardening in public green spaces, but you can enjoy nature with all your senses, exercise and fill up your vitamin D stores.
Allotment gardens are widespread in Europe. Maybe you can get together with friends to rent a plot? In many cities there are also urban gardening projects where you can get involved.