How Backyard Gardening Improves Your Mental Health

How Backyard Gardening Improves Your Mental Health

Backyard gardening can improve your mental health with minimal effort on your part.

Join landscape designer and Done-In-A-Weekend Projects host Doug Scott to learn how. 

This post is sponsored by Exmark.


Hands planting a green plant in dirt
Gardening can take your mind off of daily stresses. (happy_finch, Getty Images)

Benefits of Backyard Gardening

The positive impacts of gardening are almost endless, especially when it comes to our mental and physical health. These benefits fall into two main categories: “active” and “passive.”

Active benefits are all about getting to work and doing something in your garden, helping you clear your mind while getting your hands dirty. Gardening, and similar physical activity outside, does your body wonders.

Studies show spending more time outdoors leads to fewer long-term health problems, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. These benefits include improved heart health, flexibility, strength, and dexterity — all leading to better mental health.

Contrarily, backyard gardening’s passive benefits are about simply being in nature or outdoor space. It provides a positive distraction from stresses in your life.

Many studies show just being in nature has a positive impact on our stress levels and brain chemistry, according to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Backyard gardening also helps you “feel alive,” letting you take your mind off work while giving you a new sense of purpose outside of the daily grind. 


Close up of a vegetables in backyard garden
Growing your own vegetables gives you the personal satisfaction of a job well done. (Ivonne Wierink, Adobe Stock Photos)

Backyard Gardening By Your Senses

The goal of backyard gardening is to create a yard and garden that reflect how you want to live outside. Doug recommends designing your mental health garden according to your five senses.

  • Sight: The simple sight of a breathtaking array of plants, an arrangement of your favorite flowers, or interesting objects in your garden is bound to boost your mood.
  • Taste: Growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs will provide you an incredibly rewarding harvest, in more ways than one. Not only are you able to enjoy the produce you have grown for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but you get the personal satisfaction of a job well done.
  • Hearing: Creating habitats for birds and other animals will add the sounds of nature to help you relax in your garden. Also, add wind chimes and water features that’ll produce soothing, stress-relieving sounds.
  • Touch:  From the light, feathery textures of flower petals, to the rough surfaces of tree bark or bush stems, touch goes a long way in giving you a deeper sense of connection to your garden. This all ties back to a combination of active and passive benefits of backyard gardening, helping you establish a deeper sense of purpose.
  • Smell: Certain smells can bring back forgotten, happy memories. Add fragrant flowers and herbs to your garden bed, so you can literally “stop to smell the roses.”

Stone path in a flower garden
Create pathways that lead to mini-spaces for a relaxing retreat. (Elena Photo via Canva)

Tips for Designing Your Mental Health Garden

When designing a garden, create “rooms” connected by meandering paths that let you get away from it all. These rooms provide mini spaces that you can retreat to, so you can rest, unwind, and feel restored.

However, your outdoor spaces don’t always need to be quiet and sedentary. If you enjoy being outside with others, creating gathering spaces in your yard is a great idea. And, if you have an outdoor hobby like exercising, painting, or writing, you can create spaces to do just that.

You shouldn’t get ahead of yourself and start creating a ginormous garden right off the bat. Start small, simple, and stress-free, and grow your garden out from there. Pick easy-to-grow plants that require little maintenance or start a simple vegetable garden in a raised bed.  

So, start backyard gardening today — your mental health will be better off because of it.


Looking for more tips to breathe new life into your outdoor spaces? Check out Exmark’s Done-In-A-Weekend project series, featuring simple, budget-friendly DIY projects.


Further Reading

Double Tulips: Why Your Garden Needs These Breathtaking Flowers

Double Tulips: Why Your Garden Needs These Breathtaking Flowers

A close up of dark pink Monte Carlo double tulips in a field.

Monte Carlo tulips in bloom

Have you ever heard of double tulips? No? Neither had I until very recently. But I am super happy to have discovered this breath-taking variety of tulip. Lately, I’ve started to think about getting some flowers for my garden. I’d really like to add some colour and excitement to what is currently a very low-maintenance and functional space.

Back in lockdown two, or was it lockdown three? Can anyone even remember how many lockdowns there were? It all feels like a surreal dream now, doesn’t it? Anyway, during one of the lockdowns, my husband built a pair of huge planters in our garden at the end of the deck. The idea was to plant them full of either vegetables or flowers.

My husband wants to grow vegetables, but I just know we don’t have the time or patience for that (we tried during the lockdowns and it was not very successful). So I’m leaning towards flowers and I’ve even started to research which ones I think could work well for us.

We’d need something super low-maintenance, that doesn’t require a lot of care from me. You all know my track record with plants so it’s safe to assume that I will need to adopt the same strategy with flowers. I need something that will basically take care of itself and preferably something that will come back year after year without too much intervention from me.

A hand holding a large red tulip flower

The tulips in the community garden in Totnes in full bloom

Lately, I have been thinking about tulips. It started when the tulips in the small community garden across the road from my coworking space started to bloom. The garden became a riot of colour (as you can see in this reel I made for Instagram) and I found myself often sitting on the bench just to admire these beautifully bold flowers, which I knew practically nothing about.

Just looking at them made me feel so much lighter and happier so I decided to do some reach and work out if there was any chance that I would be able to have tulips in our garden. It was also around this time that I received an email from Dutch Grown all about double tulips, which I hadn’t heard of. But as soon as I saw the pictures I was smitten and I knew that these show-stopping tulips were for me.

So let’s take a little look at some of the questions I had about this beautiful variety and what I learned along the way.

What are double tulips?

A bunch of white Snow Crystal double tulips

Snow Crystal tulips

Unlike the iconic image of a tulip with six large petals that we are all so accustomed to seeing, double tulips have extra layers of petals which gives them a very different look. They have large, long-lasting, peony-like flowers that can appear fluffy and ruffled, or dense and demure.

Just like regular tulips, double tulips come in a wide range of colours, from soft pinks to vibrant oranges to deep purples. Unlike regular tulips, double tulips are quite large, with stems that can reach up to 20” and blooms that easily measure 4” across.

When to plant tulip bulbs?

When the nights are getting colder and there’s a hint of pumpkin spice in the air, it’s time to get out the gardening gear. Like all tulips, double tulips need to be planted in autumn. In the UK, it is recommended that you plant your bulbs in October and November. However, you can get away with doing this as late as December or January and still have them bloom in spring.

Where to plant tulip bulbs?

Left: Monte Carlo tulips | Right: Orange Princess tulips

Double tulips should be planted in a sunny, sheltered spot where they will be protected from wind and rain. As with all flower bulbs, you need to make sure that the soil is well-draining. Dig a hole that’s three times as deep as the bulbs, ideally 10-15cms deep, then cover with soil and water well. Double tulips look best in groups of at least 10-15 tulips but make sure you plant each bulb 10-15cms apart.

Are double tulips perennials?

Some tulip bulbs only bloom for one year (annuals), while others come back every year (perennials). Unfortunately, double tulips are not perennials, meaning you’ll have to plant new ones every year. But that does have its advantages since it means that every year you get to choose another combination of old favourites and exciting newcomers from the large collection of double tulips.

When do double tulips bloom?

Left: Orange Princess tulips | Right: Blue Wow tulips

Double tulips are planted in autumn and generally need 8 to 16 weeks before they start to sprout. A flowering plant will then appear within 15 to 30 days. Tulips don’t tend to bloom for very long sadly and this too depends on the conditions. If they have had a cool spring they can bloom for 1-2 weeks, but if it’s been quite warm, the flowers may only last a few days.

You can prolong the bloom of tulips but choosing varieties that bloom at different times and this way you can get a good few weeks of flowers before they die. Some double tulips bloom early in spring, while others are late bloomers so by choosing a variety of double tulip bulbs you can really stretch the flowing period.

What to do once the tulips die?

Tulips generally bloom from March to May and once they have flowered they will die off. As soon as the flower has dropped all its petals, the seed pod has turned brown and the foliage has started to die back and turned brown then you should prune your tulips back.

Once the double tulips have died, you will, unfortunately, need to plant more bulbs if you want to see the flowers return next year.

Abba tulips

Where can you buy double tulips?

If you believe that more is more and you would like your spring garden to reflect that, DutchGrown is the perfect place to buy your double tulips. Their top-size bulbs, grown in prime Dutch soil guarantee a late spring show like no other. A few clicks on their website and your order is placed. They’ll make sure, your flower bulbs will arrive at the correct planting time in autumn.


So it’s easy to see why your garden needs these breathtaking flowers. They may not be in bloom for long but when they are they add drama, colour and a sense of celebration to the garden.

What do you think? Have you ever planted double tulips in your garden? If not, would you give it a go? Let me know in the comments.

Simple Spring Decor: DIY Pastel Gold Splatted Bud Vases

Simple Spring Decor: DIY Pastel Gold Splatted Bud Vases

DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Bud Vases

Spring is in the air! To me, spring is always, first and foremost, about color. It’s also my favorite time of year to keep flowers in the house, but this can be a very expensive habit. Instead, I’ve committed to getting my flower fix by picking one or two flowers from my daily walks to display in small bud vases. To honor each bloom, I wanted to whip some special bud vases to give them just-the-right place to live.


I found these pretty little glass jars at Michaels, and used standard acrylic paint to paint the insides of the vases and then splattered them with liquid gold leaf, which gives them a beautiful shimmer unlike plain gold paint. 

DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Bud Vases

DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Bud Vases

Materials:

  • Small glass jars/vases
  • Pastel acrylic craft paints
  • Liquid gold leaf
  • Paintbrush
  • Spare newspapers/magazines
  • Latex or plastic gloves

Step

First, cover your workspace with spare papers or even plastic to protect it from paint. Be cautious and use several layers of paper for maximum protection. 

DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Bud Vases

Step

Add several drops of the desired paint colors to each small vase. Then add 1-2 drops of water and shake to combine. (This waters the paint down enough to move easily without changing its effect.) Carefully shake and move the paint around the inside of the vases until entirely covered. Then place top-down onto the paper for the excess paint to drain.

Step

Allow the paint to drain and dry for several hours or overnight. 

DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Bud Vases

Step

Turn the vases right-side up several inches apart and replace the paint-covered paper with new layers. Put on gloves to protect your hands. Dip the paint brush in the liquid gold leaf (may need to shake vigorously before opening) and lightly tap the paint onto the vases to create a speckled or splattered appearance. Repeat until satisfied with the pattern and set aside to dry completely for several hours. 

*In my experience, liquid gold leaf will stain your hands and surfaces very easily so take extra precaution as it may not be washable.

DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Bud Vases

Once the paint has all dried, insert flower buds or plain leaves to add color and life into your decor. With bud vases, there’s no need to buy a whole bouquet (unless you want to, of course)! Simply place bud vases around the house and add one stem to each to instantly update the space. 

The Best Mother’s Day Flowers (and Plants!) You Can Order Online

The Best Mother’s Day Flowers (and Plants!) You Can Order Online

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, which means you’re probably thinking about flowers. The ultimate Mother’s Day gift, flowers are personal, thoughtful, and always appreciated. If you don’t live near your mom (or grandmother or aunt or any maternal figure in your life), sending flowers is the best way to show her that you’re thinking of her. Happily, with the rise of online floral delivery services, ordering bouquets has never been easier. You can even purchase a subscription to gift your loved one with gorgeous arrangements on a regular basis! We’ve rounded up the best Mother’s Day flower gifts below. Order now, and don’t forget to call your mom to tell her you love her. If you’re looking for another way to spoil your favorite lady, check out some of our other favorite Mother’s Day gifts, including splurge-worthy luxuries, thoughtful finds straight from the heart, and, of course, candles.

Sarah M. Vazquez also contributed to reporting.

Nicole Lund

Commerce Editor

Nicole writes about shopping and products for Apartment Therapy, but her specialities are candles, bedding, bath, and pretty much anything homebody-friendly. She has been writing for AT for three years.

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