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Garden therapy for young people

Gardening has long been a source of pleasure and a way to unwind. There are plenty of TV and radio shows to sink your trowel into. But it has often been associated exclusively with the older generation. From Alan Titchmarsh to Monty Don, these golden-agers are probably not on teenagers' list of top influencers. However, gardening can offer plenty of physical and mental health benefits for young people, and it can be fun too. In this blog we get our spades out and delve a little deeper into the positive impacts gardening can have for children.

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Gardening and mental health

Young girl waters a plant

Starting big or small 

Young people don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy gardening. You can set goals, big or small, and it doesn’t need to cost the world. If you don’t have a garden, you could have a competition to see who can grow the tallest sunflower. All you need is a pot, some soil (could be from anywhere) and some sunflower seeds.

If you have access to some outside space, you could get working on something a bit more expansive. A lot of children and young people like getting their hands dirty. Clearing out an overgrown area, weeding and preparing it so you can plant some seeds can also be a lot of fun.

Gardening and mental health

The sense of achievement in a young person's eyes as a plant grows can be amazing to see. It is something they can own and feel pride about. Make sure to take photos throughout the process to document all the changes. 

Getting out and socialising

The beauty of gardening is that it can be done individually or with others. Either way, it encourages children to explore their identity. When done in groups, it can be a subtle way to get young people to socialise and work together to create something. And not only that, they might even be able eat what they’ve grown at the end!

Working collaboratively on garden projects can strengthen relationships, build social skills, and create a sense of belonging and community. There is also a lot of problem solving that teaches patience and resilience. If something isn’t growing or starting to die, children need to put their heads together to figure out how to solve this. 

boy smiling making frame with his hands

Young people's wellbeing and mental health

Right now, children's wellbeing is at a ten year low. When problems start, they can't get help. When things get too much, they are put on a waiting list. We want young people to be happy and feel good about themselves, to be able to fight and not give up.

One with nature

One with nature

In today's world of social media and influencers, it is harder than ever to get young people off their phones and out in nature. But countless studies show that when teenagers connect with nature they learn to appreciate and respect the environment more.  

Even just having the break from a computer screen can help a child slow down and reflect. It gives them time to process their thoughts without distraction. Gardens are often peaceful places that help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Girl gardens with older woman

Mental health and wellbeing

In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on the importance of teaching children mindfulness and gardening gives a great opportunity for this. It offers them an opportunity to focus on the present and stop thinking about what comes next. As simple as this may sound, everyday life for children can be full of people and things seeking their constant attention. It is easy to lose sight of the here and the now and this can contribute to low mood if they don’t take a breather. 

Furthermore, gardening can help young people be more observant, as they watch the changes happening in the garden over time. They can even develop a sense of belonging the more time they spend there. It can be comforting to have a place to go if things get too much. 

Growing inside and out

So, from growing cress on a windowsill to starting a private farm in the greenhouse, gardening can benefit all young people, no matter what they have been through. 

It promotes physical health, mental wellbeing, socialising, and a deeper connection to nature. Encouraging children to get growing could be vital for their long-term health and happiness. So what are you waiting for? Get those gardening gloves on and get planting. 

By Edward Herbert