the mental health benefits of gardening

Tending to plants can help us to relax, connect with others, connect with culture, and take care of the environment.

We all know that there are multiple ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing. Getting outdoors, working on hobbies, or getting stuck in to your garden is totally rad-ish for your wellbeing. Spending time among the greenery can help mulch your worries away. It can help keep us up-beet and can spread hap-pea-ness.


How does gardening support our mental health?

Studies show that gardening helps us to cope with the usual stressors of life and can reduce symptoms of common mental health problems (like depression. Tending to plants can give us time out from unhelpful worries and help us to feel more relaxed, all helping us to keep a healthy headspace.

Gardening also supports us to:

  • learn new skills
  • keep a routine
  • connect with people
  • tune into our senses - especially sight, smell, taste and touch
  • move our bodies; and
  • connect with the natural environment


For some of us, gardening is also an opportunity to practice our environmental values or connect with cultural practices. This improves our wellbeing by keeping us connected to some of the things that matter most to us. 


What do we mean by gardening?

Gardening isn't just about growing fruits and vegetables in your backyard. It can be as big or as small as you want it to be. But at its roots (sorry, we promise that’s the last one) it’s an intentional activity we do to nurture and connect with nature.

Gardening can include things like:

  • propagating plants
  • pressing flowers
  • growing indoor plants; and
  • composting leaves and food scraps


It can be a solo activity or something you share with others. No matter how you choose to garden, it’s good to know that it can play a role in reducing stress and improving our wellbeing.  

How much gardening do I need to do to improve my wellbeing?

Gardening is one way we can improve our wellbeing when combined with a range of other wellbeing supports and strategies. It’s important to remember that our mental health is complex and that everyone’s experience of stress is different.

This means the amount of gardening we need to do to experience the mental health benefits will look different for each of us – and that’s okay. Some of us notice feeling less stressed after as little as 30 minutes, whereas others find that it takes a few hours or many sessions over time to notice positive changes. 

So, if you decide to give gardening a go, experiment with longer or shorter sessions over time to see what feels right for you. Once you have a sense of what works, you might like to find ways to include gardening in your routine on a regular basis to help you keep connected to the long-term mental health benefits of gardening.


Is there a difference between gardening solo and sharing the experience with others?

Gardening can benefit our mental health whether it’s something we choose to do alone or with others. However, it’s helpful to know that, according to research, we can experience additional benefits when we garden with others1. This is because spending time with supportive people or meeting up with a gardening group can help us to feel connected and bring us a sense of community.


How to get started with gardening

If you’re curious about gardening and you’d like to give it a go, here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Choose where you would like to garden and who you’d like to garden with

  • This might include starting a gardening group with family, friends or mob, joining a local community gardening group, or choosing a place in your home to get started.


2. Be curious about sacred plants in your religion or culture and consider looking around for what grows well in your area. 

  • This can be helpful if you’re creating your own garden.


3.  Work out your budget and decide what supplies you will need.

  • It’s ok if you don’t have everything worked out at the beginning though. Once you get started, you’ll learn more about what you’ll need to keep your garden strong.


4. Reflect on what information, skills, and support you might need to help you along the way

  • If you have family or friends with gardening experience, consider asking them to help you get started. There are lots of free, online guides and resources that you can check out too, like My Smart Garden.


5. Commit to a time each week to look after your garden or to attend a gardening group.

Once you have these things figured out, you’re ready to get started. Remember, starting anything new can feel tough at first, so reach out for support if you need it. It can also help to stick with it for a few weeks, new habits take time to get used to. It’ll get easier over time.



What if I don’t have lots of time, money, space or know-how?

Starting a new wellbeing activity isn’t always easy and it’s common to face challenges along the way. Don’t stress - Here are a few ideas that might help. 

  • If you live in a small space or don’t have access to a community garden there’s still a stack of ways to get your green thumb on. You might try things like looking after a pot plant at home, pressing flowers, propagating plants or growing microgreens on your windowsill.

  • If you’ve never tried gardening before consider checking out some of the free gardening tutorials available online. Volunteering in a garden is another great way to learn new skills and contribute to your community.

  • If you’re worried about money or time, starting small can help. For example, some plants just need a glass of water and some sunlight. Herbs or succulents have minimal costs and are fairly low maintenance too.

  • If you’re having a tough time staying motivated, it can help to work towards a shared goal with a community of people who can encourage you to keep going. One way to do this is to create an edible garden with family and friends and use the ingredients that you grow together to cook a shared meal.


If you need more support or resources, we’ve got you covered at the end of this article. 


Mental health support

Gardening can play a role in reducing feelings of stress when we’re having a tough time. However, it’s important to remember that we often need a range of supports and strategies to support our wellbeing. And these can be different from person to person.  

If you’ve noticed changes in yourself or you’re having a tough time doing the things you’re usually able to do, now might be a good time to reach out to somebody you trust to get some support – like a trusted adult, a GP, or a mental health professional.

You can access free, confidential, mental health support at a headspace centre or by contacting eheadspace (online and phone support). If you’re at school, TAFE or uni, you may also be able to access a counselling or student wellbeing service.

If gardening isn’t for you there are more ways to support your wellbeing in our 7 tips for a healthy headspace.




Yates Garden Hub is a free online space that has information on how to grow indoor plants, herbs, vegies, flowers, native plants, and more.

My Smart Garden is a free program that will help you to learn more about growing your own food.

Go Volunteer lists volunteering jobs in Australia, including opportunities to get involved in gardening.

Australian Native Plants Society has information and support to help you grow native plants or find a local indigenous plant nursery.



The headspace Content Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website.

Last reviewed 10/10/23

Thomas, K. (2023). Gardening and wellbeing: Literature review prepared for headspace National youth Mental Health Foundation. Proven Intelligence.

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