Why your garden could be the secret to a better life

Garden optimise home

Investing in the design of your garden could increase the value of your home by as much as 77 per cent, according to new research from Post Office Money.

But making nature part of the overall design of your home could have far more benefits than simply being a sound financial investment. Here are five compelling reasons to start thinking about enhancing your outdoor space and bringing a little bit of nature into your home.

Garden reduce stress

Reduce Stress

Connecting with nature has been proven to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing. “There is a specific part of the brain (the parahippocampal cortex) that recognises beautiful views of nature, and this part of the brain is rich in endorphins,” said Esther Sternberg at her TEDx talk Healing spaces – the science of place and well-being.

Connecting with nature is a powerful tool when designing environments that make people feel relaxed. Even a visual connection with nature has been proven to reduce stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate. Our ability to think more clearly improves too because we become more engaged and alert. And best of all our emotions, mood and happiness are all greatly enhanced.

House extension connect with garden

Improve your enjoyment of your home

When you extend your living area outside, you gain additional living space and by carrying the interior finishes outside you create the illusion that both your internal and external spaces feel larger.  

If you have a garden, regardless of its size make sure you can access it easily. The key to success is to create as unified as space as possible between inside and outside, blurring the lines by continuing floor finishes, wall treatments and roof structures between the two areas so you can’t easily define where the one space ends, and the other begins.

To achieve a continuous floor finish choose tiles that come in an internal and external finish. Many porcelain tiles will come with different slip ratings making them suitable for internal and external use.

For apartments make use of window sills or balconies and bring some house plants into your home. Not only will they make your home look great but they also emit negative ions which can actually give us a euphoric feeling.

Encourage a healthier lifestyle

In the 1980s the Japanese introduced Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese phrase meaning “forest bathing” to encourage healthier lifestyles by taking regular walks in specially designated forests. This practice of immersion within nature and disconnecting from our busy lives and of course, technology for even brief periods has proven to have great therapeutic benefits.

UK’s Woodlands Trust CEO Sue Holden said it had been calculated that the NHS could save £2.1bn a year if everyone had access to green spaces. With a growing aging population this kind of preventative approach to health is one to be embraced.

Even pottering in the back garden has proven health benefits. Not only are you burning calories, which is good for general health and those looking to incorporate more exercise into their lifestyles, but you will also be able to better manage the effects of stress. A study carried out in The Netherlands asked two groups of people to complete a stressful task. One group was then asked to spend 30mins gardening while the others rested. The group that gardened for 30 minutes had lower cortisol levels than the resting group.

Plan your outdoor space

Feel Happier

Spending time in nature and in your garden makes you happy and there’s a scientific reason why. Studies suggest that inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety.

The benefits of living near green spaces has been well documented. A study carried out by Frances Kuo finds that in poorer neighborhoods of Chicago people who live near green spaces display greater calm, as well as a stronger sense of connection to neighbors.

Fight Climate Change

When it comes to what you choose to plant in your garden your choices could help to make a positive or negative impact on climate change. Spraying lawns with fertilizers and planting non-native varieties of flowers and shrubs is not good for the environment. But by choosing native plants and avoiding chemicals we will not only be causing less harm to the environment but will also help to create a habitat for butterflies, honey bees, and other creatures.

A project in Toronto called the Homegrown National Park Project, launched by the David Suzuki Foundation in 2013, encourages Canadians to plant native plants throughout their city, in vacant lots and forgotten alleyways.

Your garden could be helping you to eat healthier too. Green America has launched a Climate Victory Gardens campaign, echoing the World War II program, to promote the idea of growing your own food as an easy way to contribute to the fight against climate change. Growing your own fruit and veg is a great way to get kids excited about plants and eating well and best of all it will save you a few euros too.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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