July 12, 2022
Last Updated:
November 29, 2022

Six Benefits of Growing a Home Garden (Plus Four Tips to Get You Started!)

What’s better than buying locally grown, sustainably farmed produce? Growing it yourself! In addition to providing delicious fruits and vegetables for your kitchen, growing your own garden offers a number of health benefits.

Six Benefits of a Home Garden

Gardening can do more than provide fresh produce; the practice has mental, emotional, and physical health benefits, too.

1. Builds self-esteem

Planting, tending, and harvesting a garden is hard work, but there’s a tangible reward at the end. Much of what we do in life doesn’t feel like it has a defined ending – we work and get projects done, but we can’t hold successful presentations in our hands.

Working in your own garden and eating food you had a direct influence in growing feels good, and focusing on accomplishments like that can help build self-esteem. This boost of confidence can translate to improved confidence elsewhere in your life.

2. Boosts heart health

Much of gardening involves low to moderate levels of physical activity, like tilling the soil; planting; pulling weeds; and of course, harvesting your crops. Any activity that gets your heart rate elevated is beneficial, especially if it can be sustained over a period of time, and can improve overall heart health.

3. Reduces stress

Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, but gardening can help alleviate stress. When researchers tested the cortisol levels in one group of study participants, they found that gardening lowered stress levels more quickly than other activities. As a bonus, you can grow cortisol-reducing foods ‒ like kale, spinach, avocados, and sunflowers (to get the seeds!) ‒ in your garden.

4. Improves mood

Research has found that gardening improves mood. When people spend time in gardens, they have significantly less anxiety and fewer feelings of depression. In one study, people suffering from depression participated in a gardening club for 12 weeks. In all follow-ups conducted, participants reported “significant beneficial change in all mental health variables” during and after the exercise.

5. Saves on food costs

While the initial costs can add up, growing your own produce saves costs in the long run. With food prices soaring, many families are seeking ways to lower their grocery bills. A packet of seeds can cost anywhere from less than a dollar to around $10, with the opportunity to grow dozens of individual fruits and vegetables in each packet.

6. Increases your vitamin D

Our bodies need vitamin D, and the main way we can get it is from the sun. Adequate vitamin D exposure benefits our bones and immune systems, and outdoor activities like gardening are a great way to get enough sunshine. Just be sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays.

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Four Tips for Starting a Home Garden

Starting a garden is exciting but does require a bit of preparation to ensure success. Each type of plant has specific needs, including watering intervals, sun exposure, proximity to other plants, and planting depth. Doing some research before you get started can help make your efforts pay off.

1. Consider how much sun your garden will need and get.

Each plant needs a different amount of sunlight to thrive and can suffer from both too much and too little direct sun. Before planting, survey your yard to determine which areas get all-day sun exposure, partial sun exposure, or little sun exposure. Unless your yard has no trees, most of your available land will probably be considered “partial shade,” which is actually beneficial for most kinds of produce.

2. Research your zone.

Every region has a different optimal planting time, based mainly on the weather. Knowing what “hardiness zone” you live in will influence which plants you select and when you plant them. The higher the zone number, the warmer your climate. So if you live in zone 7, you’d need to select plants that thrive in warmer temperatures. The USDA has an interactive map to help you determine your hardiness zone.

3. Start small.

As with lots of hobbies, it’s easy to be swayed by social media’s portrayals of enormous, lush gardens on acres of land. The truth is that most of us don’t have the time, resources, or desire to create a giant garden. Instead, start small, with a couple of plants that you know you can dedicate the proper time to tending and you know you’ll eat. Don’t contribute to food waste because you want good Instagram photos!

If you’re working with limited space, like in an apartment or townhome, you have to both think and start small. When it comes to tight spaces, container gardening is a great option. Container gardening involves planting in containers, like terracotta or plastic pots, glass jars, recycled cans, or any container with proper drainage that’s big enough to accommodate your plants.

4. Use high-quality seeds or starts.

Investing in higher quality seeds or starts (young, live plants) is often worth the extra money. Cheap seeds may be mixed with low-quality varieties and are most often not organic. Seeds are cheaper than individual plants, but if they don’t germinate, you’ve wasted time and money and have nothing to show for your hard work. Spending the extra cash pays off in higher quality and quantities come harvest time.

The Bottom Line

Decorating your home with houseplants is great, and you can take it up a notch by planting your own home garden. Nothing quite compares to seeing a yard filled with fresh produce you grew with your two hands!

Gardening isn’t just good for your mental health – it can also benefit you physically. Higher-quality fruits and vegetables, more time spent outdoors, and the feeling of accomplishment when you harvest your own food can’t be beat.

Author Biography
Katy Weniger
IIN Content Writer

Katy holds a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing and advertising from Rider University. After jobs in the field of finance, she wanted to transition to an industry that focused on helping others be their best selves, and discovered IIN.

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