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What is Wellness Gardening?

Tending a garden can boost your health on multiple levels.

Written by Elizabeth Millard


 Photo: valya82 - stock.adobe.com


Putting effort into a garden can yield tremendous benefits for your soil and plants — that’s obvious. But don’t underestimate what it’s doing for you, too. Research suggests that while all physical activity has health advantages, there’s something unique about gardening. 

A research review published in the journal Clinical Medicine found that gardening is so useful for reducing blood pressure, improving muscle tension and lowering stress the researchers suggested it be called “green care.”

In another analysis, Preventive Medicine Reports showed a wide range of health outcomes for those who garden often, including reductions in depression and anxiety, as well as enhanced satisfaction with life overall. Because their findings yielded so many advantages, the researchers proposed that a regular dose of gardening should be incorporated into public health efforts.

Whether you’re a casual gardener, a hobby farmer or a full-fledged homesteader, there are strategies that can boost wellness benefits even further.


Opt for Medicinal Herbs 

To begin, consider designating part of your garden for medicinal herbs, which have a wealth of research backing up their wellness claims. Options like yarrow, echinacea, mullein and comfrey all have compelling properties for addressing issues like heartburn, stress, skin problems and inflammation, but for the novice, a good starting point for remedy-based herbs is to opt for ones that pull double duty as culinary choices.

For instance, basil has been shown to alleviate headaches and reduce menstrual discomfort, and a chewed-up leaf applied to an insect sting can reduce itching and pain. 

To lessen indigestion symptoms, try cilantro leaves steeped in hot water as a tea or chew on home-grown fennel seeds. 

Commonly used herbs such as oregano and mint have been studied for their ability to reduce daytime fatigue, and sage has been linked to better blood sugar regulation as well as a sore throat remedy.

Having trouble sleeping? Add some medicinal herbs into your garden plan that have been shown to address these ailments. These include calming herbs like valerian, chamomile and lemon balm.

To make the most of a summer bounty and plant for wellness at the same time, consider berry bushes. All types of berries have research-backed nutritional clout, but with blackberry, elderberry, raspberry and blueberry, you can use the leaves as well as the fruit. For example, dried raspberry leaves made into a tea is not only good for menstrual issues, it also has been shown to be a natural mouthwash that reduces gum disease.

With so many herbal, fruit and vegetable options available, not to mention edible flowers, the most difficult part of gardening may be deciding what to grow. But whatever you choose, be assured that you’ll be supporting your wellness both physically and mentally — and your yard will be beautiful, too.


Columnist Elizabeth Millard literally wrote the book on wellness gardening. Her 2020 release, Backyard Pharmacy: Plants as Medicine, is an easy-to-understand guide to selecting, growing and harvesting plants that can treat common ailments and improve your well-being. 

*All products featured are selected by our editors. When you make a purchase through a qualifying link, we may earn a commission via affiliate programs with Amazon.com and other retailers.*


See Also: How to Start a Truly Organic Garden

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