Want to live a longer life? Then it appears that gardening may be the answer! Gardening is an easy way to achieve an outdoor lifestyle with moderate activity – both well-known factors linked to living longer. And there is an abundance of research that highlights that gardening increases well-being and longevity.
Australian researchers that followed men and women in their 60s found that those who regularly gardened had a 36% lower risk of dementia than their non-gardening counterparts¹.
Preliminary studies with elderly people suffering from cognitive issues, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, report benefits from garden settings and horticulture therapy. For example, sunlight and fresh air, help the elderly feel calmer when they are agitated, and the colours and textures of plants and vegetables can improve visual and tactile ability².
Doctors in Scotland now prescribe a walk in nature to treat a variety of ailments, including reducing blood pressure and anxiety, and to improve overall happiness³.
We delve into the reasons why gardening can help you live longer.
Gets you into nature
Exposure to sunlight, fresh air and plant life all have health benefits, as per the above mentioned research.
So if it’s good for you, it’s even better for you to do it regularly. A well maintained garden requires continuous, regular and ongoing work and commitment, giving you that ongoing sunlight, fresh air and connection to the earth and plants.
Gardening requires all different levels of physical activity and therefore it qualifies as exercise. Exercise from gardening can assist with strength, dexterity, coordination and even be comparable to some aerobic exercises when it comes to burning calories. Everything from pruning (mild exercise) to digging (more strenuous exercise) is good for you.
When you grow your own fruit and vegetables you will more than likely eat them too. And that can only benefit you and your health – especially if you grow organically. Home grown produce can increase your nutrient intake and definitely tastes a lot better being so fresh.
Exercises the mind
For many, our work lives are spent planning and problem-solving, gardening also requires these skills, hence exercising your mind. Being out in the garden can mean completing the exact task you had intended to complete or changing what your intended plans were and doing something different and often learning new skills.
Relaxes the mind
Working in the garden with nature has a way of slowing down your busy thoughts and making you live more in the moment. You may find yourself noticing things more while gardening than you do at other times in your day.
Many mindfulness experts consider gardening a form of meditation – here is a simple guide to a mindfulness practice for the garden.
Now that spring is here, here are some of the top spring gardening tasks for you to get onto.
It’s a good time to replant garden beds with hedges, perennials and trees. Don’t leave it too late in spring, as the extra moisture from early spring will give these plants a few months to establish before the heat of summer. Mix in a lot of organic compost in the planting area and keep the plants well-watered for the first few months until they’ve had time to settle in.
Garden pots may need a top up of potting mix or repotting into larger pots if overgrown.
Chances are that a plant that has been in the same pot for over a year has grown to its roots potential. Pull out the plant, very gently untangle the roots and put the plant into a different or slightly bigger pot to allow for more growth. The size of the pot will often determine the size of the plant growth – until it reaches the normal size range for that plant. Make sure you repot with some slow release fertiliser and fresh potting mix.
Spring is a great time to give your lawn some love. It’s time to repair the bare patches of lawn, feed the lawn, get rid of lawn pests, control the weeds and fix water repellent soil. Here is a good lawn care guide for Spring.
Spring pruning will help your trees grow strong throughout spring and summer and help remove any viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Prune trees and shrubs to remove any dead winter leaves, old flowers or damaged growth. This is also the time to prune lemon trees. Trim back hedges, fast growing and summer flowering plants as this will reshape the plant and encourage new growth and flowers. Check out this guide to pruning.
Spring is the best time to feed your whole garden – also remember your inside plants. A slow-release fertiliser is recommended for whole garden, to encourage healthy spring growth and flowering. Potted plants, indoor and out, can also do with a dose of liquid fertiliser and slow release fertiliser. A complete lawn fertiliser is recommended for all lawn areas. A liquid fertiliser is recommended to new plantings and vegetable seedlings and dig compost and manure through the veggie patch in preparation for new seedlings. Use specialist fertilisers for roses, citrus and orchids, making sure that you feed citrus before they start flowering.
Mulching your garden in spring is great preparation for the summer. Mulch will help insulate your garden against the summer heat. You do this by removing all weeds and encroaching grass first, then add compost and/or fertiliser, then put down the mulch at approximately 5cm thick. Different mulch is suitable for garden beds than vegetable garden beds. So make sure you get the correct mulch for the correct garden.
With warmer nights, it’s time to plant basil again. While doing that, why not plant a whole herb garden that could include parsley, coriander, thyme, sage, chives and rosemary.