Get into your garden: it makes you happier, healthier and less stressed

Research consistently shows that whatever its size your outdoor space has many benefits beyond just making your home more valuable

Studies suggest that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety

Studies suggest that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety

 

Investing in the design of a garden could increase the value of a home by as much as 77 per cent, according to new research from Post Office Money. But making nature part of the overall design can have far greater benefits beyond simply being a sound financial investment. Here are five compelling reasons to start thinking about your outdoor space and bringing a little bit of nature into your home.

Reduce Stress
Connecting with nature has been proven to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing. “There is a specific part of the brain that recognises beautiful views of nature, and this part of the brain is rich in endorphins,” said Esther Sternberg at her TEDx talk Healing Spaces – the science of place and well-being.

Connecting with nature is a powerful tool when designing environments that make people feel relaxed. Even a visual connection with nature has been proven to reduce stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate. Our ability to think more clearly improves too because we become more engaged and alert. And best of all our emotions, mood and happiness are all greatly enhanced.

Improve your enjoyment of your home
By extending the living area outside, you gain additional living space and by carrying the interior finishes outside you create the illusion that both your internal and external spaces feel larger.

If you have a garden, regardless of its size make sure you can access it easily. The key to success is to create as unified a space as possible between inside and outside, blurring the lines by continuing floor finishes, wall treatments and roof structures between the two areas so you can’t easily define where one space ends, and the other begins.

To achieve a contour floor finish choose tiles that come in an internal and external finish. Many porcelain tiles will come with different slip ratings making them suitable for internal and external use.

For apartments make use of window sills or balconies and bring some house plants into your home. Not only will they make your home look great but they also emit negative ions which can actually give us a euphoric feeling.

Encourage a healthier lifestyle
In the 1980s the Japanese introduced Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese phrase meaning “forest bathing” to encourage healthier lifestyles by taking regular walks in specially designated forests. This practice of immersion within nature and disconnecting from our busy lives and of course, technology for even brief periods has proven to have great therapeutic benefits.

Even pottering in the back garden has proven health benefits. Not only are you burning calories, which is good for general health and those looking to incorporate more exercise into their lifestyles, but you will also be able to better manage the effects of stress.

A study carried out in The Netherlands asked two groups of people to complete a stressful task. One group was then asked to spend 30 minutes gardening while the others rested. The group that gardened for 30 minutes had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the resting group.

Feel Happier
Spending time in nature makes you happy and there’s a scientific reason why. Studies suggest that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety.

The benefits of living near green spaces has been well documented. A study carried out by Frances Kuo finds that in poorer neighbourhoods of Chicago people who live near green spaces display greater calm, as well as a stronger sense of connection to neighbours.

Fight Climate Change
When it comes to what we choose to plant in our gardens our choices could help to make a positive or negative impact on climate change. Spraying lawns with fertilisers and planting non-native varieties of flowers and shrubs is not good for the environment. But by choosing native plants and avoiding chemicals we will not only be causing less harm to the environment but will also help to create a habitat for butterflies, honey bees, and other creatures.

A project in Toronto called the Homegrown National Park Project, launched by the David Suzuki Foundation in 2013, encourages Canadians to plant native plants throughout their city, in vacant lots and forgotten alleyways.

Our gardens could be helping us to eat healthier too. Green America has launched a Climate Victory Gardens campaign, echoing the World War II programme, to promote the idea of growing your own food as an easy way to contribute to the fight against climate change. Growing your own fruit and veg is a great way to get kids excited about plants and eating well and best of all it will save a few euros too.

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