We all depend on the wide range of essential benefits that nature provides us. From the air we breathe in our day to day existence to the food we eat and the soil we walk on, we’re always in tight connection with nature, but we often tend to forget that. With the rise of industry and the rapid growth of technology, we have distanced ourselves from nature and we’ve become so preoccupied with our modern life that we often neglect our connection to it. Studies have shown that access to nature not only improves our mental health but also helps fight obesity — the positive impact of interaction with nature has moved way past anecdotal evidence and it’s pretty much established in science and medical practice.

gardening health

Gardening can boost your mood and your health. Image via Max Pixel.

However, it’s not always clear what “reconnecting with nature” means. Is it a walk in the park? A trip to the mountains? How often do you have to do it for it to work, and what does ‘work’ even mean here? Well, rather than thinking of nature in an abstract way, we can learn to renew our relationship with nature by picking up a hobby: gardening. Gardening and landscaping are relaxing and soothing, but they can also be taken as seriously as launching a new startup. It’s your choice how much you want to get involved.

How to get started

If you have a garden, then it’s ideal. You’ve got natural soil and natural conditions and you’re pretty much set to go. You might have to renew the earth or use some fertilizer if it’s run down. If you live in an apartment, you can also make it work — absolutely no problem. You just have to do a bit more planning for the plant arrangement. Flower pots are a life saver, and they come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, pick some which are good for you.

You can have a small garden even if you live in an apartment. Image credits: PROSuzette.

The next thing to do is get some seeds — which again, should be really no problem. Every city, town, and village has specialized shops, and you can often find seeds in some general or hardware shops as well. The internet is also your friend if you want more choices. It’s easy to do with a variety of seeds — lawn seeds, pasture seeds, wildflower seeds, or specialty seeds — you just need to think what you want to do. Is it nice flowers that attract you, or would you like to grow some delicious herbs? You can, for instance, grow turf grass to renew a barren front or backyard or plant wildflower seeds to make any bleak landscape look beautiful again. Follow the instructions on the pack and keep things as simple as possible.

Benefits of gardening

Gardening and landscaping renew our spirit. We become aware of the fresh breeze blowing through our hair, the sun against the skin, and the texture of earth and plants. For a refreshing moment, we stop trying to solve problems and figure everything out. Here are a few benefits to consider:

Relax and de-stress

As mentioned above, the biggest advantage is for yourself — it’s a great way to relax and get rid of all the stress in our day to day life while maintaining a good connection to nature, something which has been proven beneficial time and time again. Instead of going out in nature, you have a way of bringing nature inside your home

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Contribution to the ecosystem

Communal gardens are popular in some parts of the world. Image credits: Symi81.

In our own humble way, we are renewing the cycles of nature and gently prodding the natural world along. For instance, when we grow flowers, honeybees benefit from them and we benefit from the honey. Gardening benefits the earth in a wide number of ways. For instance, plants act as air cleaners, absorbing carbon dioxide and air pollutants, releasing oxygen. Additionally, plants hold soil in place, thus reducing erosion.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs

This works especially if you have a garden, although you can grow delicious (and lots) of herbs in an apartment as well. If you’re into eating healthy foods, if you learn how to start a vegetable garden soon the freshest source of foods won’t come from your neighboring grocery store or even your local farmer’s market but from your own garden. Instead of going shopping in the fall, imagine getting squash, pumpkins, cranberries, and apples from your own garden. Imagine using your own freshly picked herbs in your cooking. And imagine serving up a delicious salad at a family dinner with garlic, tomatoes, cabbage, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, and kale from your own garden. You won’t feed yourself constantly, but you’ll have a delicious addition to any meal.

Gentle exercise

While gardening can’t be compared to the established exercise we get from weight lifting, cardio, or yoga, it does provide a considerable range of exercise that kept our ancestors healthy. You’ll be building your muscles and stretching as you dig and rake and lift in the course of maintaining your garden. In addition, you’ll be building strong hands. As we get older, we tend to lose flexibility and dexterity and also feel more inclined to do sedentary things. Gardening is a gentle form of physical rehabilitation.

Fresh air and sunshine

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

We spend most of our time indoors, either working in an office or pottering around the house, and if you know that you have to look after your garden, you are more inclined to go outside. When you are watering your plants, pulling up weeds, or digging up the soil to plant some seeds, you are getting fresh air to oxygenate your body and plenty of Vitamin D from the sunshine. According to an article on Vitamin D and Health from the Harvard TH Chan School of School of Public Health, “A promising report in the  Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may even reduce overall mortality rates: A combined analysis of multiple studies found that taking modest levels of vitamin D supplements was associated with a statistically significant 7 percent reduction in mortality from any cause.”

Learn a new skill

Gardening is definitely one of the more useful skills you can learn, and it’s one which you can apply throughout your entire life, in a variety of conditions. You can apply it pretty much anywhere in the world, you can even try to turn it into a business or a way to complement your income. It’s easy to do and rewarding, it’s good for you and the environment. Why not give it a try?