With the shut down of gyms, parks and sports, our gardens have become more important for our health & wellbeing than ever before. Research shows many tangible benefits of gardening & being outside such as decreasing obesity & depression, enhancing opportunities for connections to nature and creating space for relaxation. With this in mind and the welcomed appearance of the sun we have created a list of ideas to promote wellbeing in the garden for the whole family.
The act of gardening itself is a therapeutic form of exercise. Not only can it keep us physically fit with weeding, mowing, pruning, planting & harvesting, it can have a real positive effect on our mental & emotional wellbeing too. Growing your own food and becoming more self sustainable is an increasingly popular trend and it’s not hard to see why – there is something deeply nourishing about nurturing a plant, harvesting and eating it. Here are a few ideas to try growing your own at home.
Create a Sensory Herb Garden
A herb garden can bring fresh flavours to your cooking & floods of fragrance while providing a plethora of greenery. This project can be done & kept outside in the garden but can also be planted inside if you are limited on space or do not have access to a garden. Place herbs in a sunny spot and water regularly to ensure a consistent supply of sweet aromas and tasty dishes.
Starting From Seed
Place seeds into small pots or clean eggshells half filled with compost, cover seeds fully, water daily and place on a warm window sill. Once seedlings appear, separate and repot.
Take cuttings from established & store bought herbs by cutting the stalk just below the second node, removing excess leaves keeping 2 at the very top and placing in a jar of water on a warm windowsill to root before transferring to pots. Use this method you can ensure a continuous supply of your favourite herbs.
Display Your Herb Garden
Arrange your herb garden using colourful pots near to your kitchen or back door, or make a window box for them to flourish in – ensuring they have access to plenty of sunlight.
If you are short on space or want something different – get creative and turn a pallet into an on trend living herb wall with this clear and easy to follow guide. The whole creative process can be beneficial for wellbeing in the garden.
Grow Your Own Veg
Make a raised bed to promote healthy eating and wellbeing in the garden. There are multiple ways to create raised beds – build your own by using sleepers, pallets or our oakstone timber or use large free standing pots.
Raising the beds makes maintaining and harvesting crops more accessible and can protect crops from damage – see our kitchen garden blog for our handy guide on how to create a Kitchen Garden – from planning to planting.
We found plenty of good ideas in this beginners guide to growing your own veg video:
Exercise & Relax In The Garden
Create a space outside to just be whether its a shaded area by the trees, a patch of lawn that gets great sunlight or a patio circle lined with lanterns. Creating a safe, calming outside space we can retreat to and soak up the vitamin D can have a huge beneficial impact on our immune systems and mental wellbeing. Use scented plants in pretty pots that attract wildlife and adorn the area with cushions, throws and twinkly lights. Why not try out some simple movements to keep fit in the garden with these two relaxation activities.
Yoga In The Garden
Yoga in the garden is a great way to exercise at home in the fresh air. All It requires is a mat, (or a blanket / towel), a safe space to move in and you! Try starting off with a simple energising flow that can be adapted to suit your fitness level such as a Sun Salutation. By working with a simple flow of movement – you can turn the mind to moving with the breath. A great way to work and wake up both body and mind.
Sun Salutation A – Step By Step
1. Stand tall crown of the head lifted towards the ceiling, tuck tailbone and pull shoulders down from ears
2. Inhale – raise arms up and gaze up
3. Exhale – bend knees slightly and fold forward from the hips
4. Inhale – lift chest halfway up and rest hands on legs either above or below the knees, gaze forward
5. Exhale – bend knees, frame feet with hands and step back into a plank, come down to the knees. Then slowly lower your chest to the floor.
6. Inhale – bring the hands either out in front like a sphinx or by the chest and lift chest off the floor for cobra position.
7. Exhale – tuck your toes, push away with hands and lift hips up back to downward dog – an upward v shape, keeping knees bent
8. Inhale – look forward, step forward
9. Exhale – fold forward
10. Inhale – lift arms and chest all the way up
11. Exhale – bring hands back down to heart-centre
Mindfulness In The Garden
Mindfulness is the mental state of being consciously aware of what is happening in our body and mind, as well as in our surrounding area. It can help us to improve our mental clarity, concentration, tolerance & empathy, whilst reducing stress and rumination.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, and one which is proving increasingly popular is gardening. We’ve all experienced mindful moments outside – the first sight of a seedling poking through the soil, a glimpse of springs first butterfly, golden light beaming through bright green leaves… Losing yourself in gardening can really help to bring your attention to appreciating the little joys of life and becoming more present in that very moment. Try this simple activity to practise mindfulness in your outside space, do it alone or with the whole family.
Use All Of Your Senses – sit comfortably in your space and take a few minutes to listen to the sounds around you, visualize all of the different colors around you, feel the ground with your bare feet or hands, notice what you can smell? Does it bring any tastes to mind? Go through each sense mentally or write down / draw what you experience and feel. If the mind starts to wander onto other things – kindly bring it back to your senses.
Find out more about the benefits of mindfulness and different activities related to wellbeing in the garden at the NHS Choices website.
Garden Activities For The Kids
Four interesting and refreshingly different ideas for entertaining youngsters in the home garden.
1) Nature Art
Take inspiration from land artist James brunt and see what sculptures and collages you can all make out of all the natural things you can find in your home & garden and on your daily walk.
Get lots of ideas here www.jamesbruntartist.co.uk/blog
2) Build An Insect House or Bug Hotel
Building an insect house is a great way to encourage children to build deeper connections to nature, it also helps make that garden minibeast hunt a little more interesting.
Collect materials such as dry leaves, sticks, bark and moss, old plant pots and pallets. Sandwich the pallets with the dry materials and pots and then find some flat material such as slate to make a roof to keep everything nice and dry.
This fantastic video by Chester Zoo demonstrates the building process in just 1 minute:
3) Build a Garden Assault Course
Whether it’s for the kids, the dog or you, an assault course is a great way to keep everyone entertained and active.
Raid the garage, collect all the kids garden toys, tip up the garden furniture and put that old tyre to good use – creating a fun loop for the whole family to tackle. Get the kids fully involved by designing and creating their own assault courses.
4) Pebble Painting
Using only paint and pebbles you could have hours of fun creating an army of minibeasts to protect the garden plants or NHS rainbows and positive quotes to leave about for others to find while on your walks.
1. Start by cleaning any dirt off and leaving to air dry.
2. Pencil on or go straight to painting the pebble.
3. Dry with a hair dryer or leave to dry naturally.
4. Once they are dry – seal with PVA glue and place around the garden.