I get really excited every year when spring rolls around. Why? Because it’s time to start getting the garden ready! Gardening is hands-down one of my favorite ways to spend time in the spring and summer months. And I’ve been doing it forever; my dad and I would go out and work in the garden together when I was a kid. I have fond memories of us planting flowers and eating fresh, delicious raspberries right off the bush. There’s something special, therapeutic, and oddly fun about keeping a garden.
But, then again, gardening also takes a lot of time and energy. There’s physical labor involved, you have to actively maintain and care for your plants, and you may need to do some problem-solving (like, say, getting rid of pests or diseases). It can seem like a lot of work. But, to me, keeping a garden is a labor of love, and I do it in spite of — or maybe even because of — the effort. If you’ve never tried gardening and you’re curious, or possibly wondering what all the hype is, here are nine of the best reasons for taking up this amazing hobby.
1. It beautifies your home space.
One of the most obvious benefits of having a garden? A beautiful yard, of course! Whether you’re growing flowers or vegetables, a well-tended garden patch adds charm and beauty to your home. If you enjoy wildlife, planting the right kinds of flowers will attract all kinds of butterflies, bees and birds to your yard. But if you don’t have yard space, indoor options like windowsill herb gardens and house plants can look very attractive, too — and as an added plus, they’ll freshen your air.
2. You can grow your own food.
Growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs is surprisingly rewarding. Beginner-friendly plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini are easy to take care of, usually grow vigorously and will probably give you more veggies than you know what to do with. And nothing is more delicious than garden-fresh goodies. My partner and I have grown leafy greens (lettuce, kale, spinach and beets) in one of our raised garden beds for the past couple of years, and we love the bounty of fresh salads we get to eat in the summertime. Trust me, once you eat home-grown produce, you won’t want to go back to the store-bought kind.
3. You get to spend time outside.
Playing in the garden is a great excuse to get outdoors. Part of the reason I actually enjoy the work of gardening is because I get to be outside soaking up the sun while I’m doing it. Having a garden is like having a tiny sanctuary in your own backyard–a place where you can step outside, breathe some fresh air and be a little closer to nature. I find it very calming and I sometimes use “garden breaks” to re-center myself during long workdays.
4. It keeps you active.
The upside of having to do physical labor to maintain your garden is that it keeps you active. Turns out that lifting tools, hauling around big bags of soil, digging around in the dirt and pulling weeds is actually pretty decent exercise — according to The Spruce, the University of Virginia classifies certain gardening tasks as “moderate to strenuous” physical activity, in the same category as walking or riding a bike. Studies show that gardening for even 30 minutes a day strengthens and tones your major muscle groups, increases your flexibility, burns calories and lowers blood pressure. How’s that for good news?
5. It’s a wonderful creative outlet.
Your garden is whatever you make of it. It can be purely functional, or it can be an artistic endeavor and a means expressing yourself. Laura Eubanks of Design for Serenity, who creates some of the most beautiful succulent plant-scapes I have ever seen in my life, says that her work is like “painting with plants”. Depending on how much time and money you want to invest, you can create anything from minimalist garden plots to gorgeous and elaborate landscape designs. And if you’re an indoor gardener, you can indulge your creative side by designing plant terrariums, small succulent arrangements or fairy gardens.
6. You get to learn about plants.
Okay, this may be my inner geek talking, but plants are fascinating. Watching a tiny seed sprout, unfurl and slowly develop into a lavender shrub, a pumpkin vine or a basil plant is nothing short of miraculous. Witnessing this whole process firsthand is part of why I am a big fan of growing plants from seed — it helps you get to know and understand how different plants “work” and what their life cycles look like. And every plant is unique; each one has its own needs, preferences, quirks and personality. Regardless of what you choose to grow, plants are living, breathing beings, and getting to know them is a big part of being a gardener.
7. You’ll become more self-sufficient.
Gardening reminds me of the saying, “Give someone a fish and you feed them for a day; teach someone to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” By becoming a gardener, you’ll learn the art and science of tending to the earth and cultivating plants — skills that our ancestors practiced and once relied on for survival. When you start growing your own food, you become less dependent on the industrial food production chain. You have full control over how and where your food is grown. You save money on groceries. And best of all, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you did it all yourself.
8. You have permission to get dirty.
Okay, let’s just be real for a minute: playing in the dirt is kind of fun, and it’s not just for kids. If you haven’t tried it recently, maybe you should. There is something inherently satisfying about touching and working with the earth, and getting some of it on your clothes and skin just comes with the territory. Best of all, it washes off afterwards — nothing a little soap and water won’t fix.
9. Gardening is good for the environment.
Keeping a garden is also a wonderful way to care for the environment and live more sustainably. With gardening, the future of the earth is — literally — in your own hands. According to Science Daily, gardeners can play a part in slowing global warming through their handiwork. Now more than ever, we need people to champion the environment and take an active role in restoring the health of this planet.
Gardeners and nongardeners alike, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you love about gardening? What makes you want to try it, if you haven’t? What intrigues you most about it?