Mental Health Support
25 May 2022

Over seven million people have taken up gardening since the pandemic and are finding significant benefits for their mental health. 

Two-thirds of UK adults (63 per cent) say that spending time gardening or in nature helps their mental health, according to a new survey from national Mind.  

Respondents were asked how they felt gardening benefitted their wellbeing and the top three responses were: 

  • 63 per cent said it made them feel calmer or less stressed 

  • 43 per cent said they enjoyed taking in the colours, sounds, sights and smells 

  • 40 per cent said that exercising outside boosted their wellbeing. 

The survey was conducted by Censuswide among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults. The data was then extrapolated based on nationally representative statistics and the UK population.  

With the extrapolation, the survey found that since the pandemic, over seven million people say that their mental health has benefitted from taking up gardening for the first time and another seven million say that their mental health has been boosted by connecting with people outdoors, for example, by speaking to their neighbours over the fence. An additional three million people say that going outside their urban area to access an outdoor space or garden has significantly benefitted their mental wellbeing. 

It’s not just those with gardens, however, who are seeing the benefits. Forty-three per cent of people said that looking after house plants or growing plants or food in window boxes was also good for their wellbeing. 

“We’ve known for some time that physical outdoor activity can help our wellbeing,” said Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind. “But this significant new research provides evidence that gardening, in particular, plays a key role in bringing together a host of things that are good for our mental health. Taking in the sights and colours of the outdoors, nurturing and growing plants and finding space to connect with others can make a world of difference to how we feel.

“After a challenging couple of years, when many of us have experienced mental health problems for the first time, it’s really encouraging to see that the nation has drawn on the great outdoors for support.” 

The release of the survey results coincided with the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show 2022 (24 to 28 May) and the launch of the first Mind Garden at the show, designed by Andy Sturgeon, the gardening broadcaster and designer.  

Andy commented: “Gardens make people happy, they make people relax, and you can see that people behave differently when they are in that environment... The Mind Garden includes a series of curved walls and I had the idea that they could come together like a conversation. I want people to feel embraced [in the Mind Garden]. I want people to feel protected when they are in it.” 

The research from Mind mirrors the findings of other research, such as a survey conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society at the end of April to celebrate National Gardening Week. The RHS survey of 6,000 people found that gardening boosted people’s mental wellbeing as much as running and cycling – with those who gardened two to three times a week reporting a 4.1 per cent higher wellbeing score, and 2.4 per cent lower stress levels compared to people who didn’t garden at all. 

If you are struggling with how you are feeling, you can find local sources of support on this website.