The suburbs. A sprawling neighborhood full of trim, perfectly kept grass lawns. Every Saturday, the dads come out and mow their lawns, then set up chairs to sit and admire their beautiful yards… of grass. Just grass. But where’s the flavor? A bed full of brightly colored flowers or a planter with new vegetables would be a welcome sight. Unfortunately, not everyone knows why gardening is important. The beauty of a yard can extend beyond just fresh cut grass. There’s a whole world of plants and decor to be explored. Perhaps it’s time to learn other ways to appreciate your yard with flowers, shrubs, vines and vegetables.
When I lived in a suburb, I never saw any wildlife, no birds stopping by, or butterflies flapping about. There was a big difference between this yard full of centipede grass and that of my grandmother’s yard. Her yard was full of herbs, veggies, flowers, and trees. She set up bird feeders, so the birds had somewhere to eat. We watched them quietly from our porch, where they wouldn’t be startled. Bluebirds, Carolina wrens, and cardinals were frequent visitors. Memories of bird-watching and appreciating the tendrils of new plant sprouts are some of the fondest I recall. There was something special about that yard.
The big difference? My grandmother had a beautiful garden full of diverse plant life. The yard came alive with the flora and fauna she invited by providing a garden full of life, rather than an empty space for grass. This brought beauty in both plants and animals to our lives. It turns out that gardening benefits us in many ways, not apparent at first thought. Not only did my grandmother’s garden have more wildlife in it, but it brought more life to me. As a kid, my best memories were playing in that yard among the trees and flowers and plants. Gardening impacts our lives in positive ways that can have lasting effects.
So, why is gardening important? Let me count the ways…
1. Gardening is great For the Environment
In a time when so much of the world has been paved over with asphalt and sod, it is essential to provide a space full of flora for the wildlife. Keeping a home garden helps pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies. Insects that pollinate plants are so important to our ecosystem, but those like bees are in danger of losing their ability to survive. Planting a garden is a great way to support the natural world around us by supporting critters that are losing their environment.
To help support a diverse environment in an increasingly concrete world, you can put native plants in your yard. Reduce lawn area by filling your garden beds with flowers and pollinator-friendly plants. Some plants that will be great additions to your garden include basil, lavender, zinnia, or poppies. Help out the little insect buddies, and in turn, they will pollinate your garden, helping you have a bountiful harvest and continued growth.
Gardening not only helps the wildlife, but it also helps you. It’s great for the earth by cleaning the air and water from pollutants. Plants help convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, something I bet you already knew. But it’s important to consider your part in the ecosystem of our world and what you can do to help the environment around you. Just like the insects and critters, you are also a creature that survives from what nature provides. Gardening connects you to the soil and plants that are our basis of life.
2. Gardening is Great Exercise
Gardening is actually an excellent form of exercise. Getting outdoors and working around the garden is a gentle way to get your body moving. Especially for those who may have health issues or not be a fan of the gym, it is vital to keep your body moving.
Actions like planting seeds, raking, and weeding all promote a range of motion that you may not usually explore. Reaching and stretching, bending, and picking things up are gentle ways to exercise your body without using weights. Simple actions like these repeated several times a week will improve your muscle strength and tone, as well as flexibility.
Getting outdoors and moving is really important for people living in this modern world. We are usually sitting at a desk, in a car, then to the couch. Having a garden commits you to going outdoors and stretching your bones every week. After all, you have to take care of your wonderful variety of plants growing in your garden.
3. Gardening Reduces Your Stress
Starting positive and fruitful hobbies is a great way to reduce stress. Rather than sit inside watching TV, sometimes it feels good to get some sunshine and put your fingers in the dirt. Getting vitamin D from the sun improves your health, which will also boost your mood. Just make sure to wear sunscreen. Since gardening is a form of exercise, it promotes the release of endorphins, aka ‘happy hormones’ into your body.
Growing a garden gives you a weekly and daily responsibility to look forward to. It can become a sort of meditative practice, the one part of the day that you don’t have to think about anything else except plants. Let yourself dissolve into the simple and peaceful actions of caring for your plants. Let your stress melt away as you water the garden bed.
4. Gardening Builds Community
Gardening at home can bring the whole family together. Transforming your yard into a beautiful garden is a great way to bond. Combining the outdoors, exercise, and plant babies are positive elements to brighten up your household routine. There is a task for everyone to do, from the kids to the grandparents.
Growing a garden teaches patience to both children and parents, as those little plants aren’t going to sprout up in just a day. For kids, give them some simple tasks to start with. Jobs, like planting seeds, watering them, and looking out for weeds, are good starter chores. Letting kids take part in the garden helps build a sense of responsibility that can transfer over to other areas of life. Let your kids have a say in the planning part of the garden too, so they have a stake in what sorts of plants are grown and how it is organized. Find cute ways to decorate your garden with little figurines or have a rock painting day. Whatever you do, have fun with your home garden.
5. Grow Your Own Food
Gardeners eat healthier. Especially if you are growing vegetables or herbs, as a gardener, you are bound to enjoy the fruits of your harvest. By growing your own food, organic eating is accessible within your own backyard. A bonus of growing your own veggies is that you will be much more motivated to actually eat them because you wouldn’t want to waste all of the hard work you put into growing them… right?
Eating healthy will once again contribute to your overall health, improving your fitness and making your body stronger. Who wouldn’t want that? Cooking your own meals is another way to improve your health, using natural ingredients, and putting in effort draws your attention to the nutrients you give your body on a daily basis. It seems like grandma had it right all these years, cooking homegrown meals and salads right from the yard.
Frequently Asked Questions: Is Gardening important?
Where do I start gardening?
Start small with things you are really interested in growing. Figure out if you want to grow flowers, herbs, vegetable or even trees. We have some great tips on beginner gardens in this article.
Does gardening improve my mental health?
Definitely. Along with reducing stress and improving the release of serotonin, gardening can help your mental health. Talk to your therapist or support system as implementing gardening as a part of your self-care routine.
Why are pollinators important?
Pollinators maintain the balance of our ecosystem by fertilizing 90 % of the world’s flowering plants. That means that without pollinators, we wouldn’t have plants or vegetables to eat. So it’s very important that we help support the ecosystems of the critters that carry pollen to plants.