Better Together

The Benefits of Gardening

Gardeners are itching to get their hands in the dirt, particularly during this time of sheltering in place. Gardening has likely not been as popular as it is now since war times, when folks planted Liberty and Victory Gardens.

Some garden centers have begun to open again. A recent weekend of great weather raised spirits and green thumbs in Schaumburg area nurseries.

The benefits of gardening are many, even under normal circumstances, especially for seniors. But these days, the advantages are even more compelling. 

A Bumper Crop of Benefits from Gardening

Improves physical, emotional and cognitive health. Gardening provides physical exercise, employs fine and large motor skills, stimulates happy brain chemicals and relieves stress. It also boosts cognition because it involves counting, measuring, spacing, patterns, etc. Gardening can also spark memories for older people of a favorite plant or former garden. 

Boosts vitamin D and aids sleep. Vitamin D is essential for seniors, as it strengthens bone health, aids muscle movement and helps fight infection. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, and being outdoors lifts mood, energy levels and improves sleep. 

Stimulates all the senses. All five senses are involved in gardening: brilliant colors to see; sweet or earthy aromas to smell; buzzing bees and watering to hear; edible fruits, vegetables and even some flowers to taste; and various textures to touch. 

Nips boredom in the bud. Gardening is an active hobby that passes the time enjoyably and constructively. It also produces tangible results and a great sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and joy. 

Provides socialization and intergenerational connections. Tending a garden can be a private, meditative endeavor, but it can also be done with other people of all ages. Even grandchildren can help, strengthening family bonds in the process. 

Provides spiritual connectivity. Many of us feel most connected to a higher power when we’re communing with nature in all its abundant glory. 

Promotes nurturance. Plants need tending and nourishment to live and flourish. Gardeners love to watch them grow, knowing that they’re thriving because of the care and attention they’ve given. Feeling needed is a fundamental human desire.

Staying Home and the Natural World

What’s also interesting about the Great Outdoors while humans are staying at home is that birds and wildlife are out and about more. With fewer people encroaching upon their natural habitats, they are less fearful and more apt to approach attractive (and often tasty) gardens. Many people have reported seeing greater numbers of birds, foxes, coyotes, and other creatures this spring. 

Research from a bird specialist at the University of Lyon notes that birds in cities sing more on weekends because there is less noise pollution from people and vehicles. Now, as many people are home during the week as well, birdsong can be heard every day. Fewer cars on the road and airplanes in the sky have benefited air quality as well. 

To the delight of residents and staff, friendship Senior Options communities like Friendship Village are reopening their garden plots and planting opportunities. Spring has always been an exciting time for our many seniors who love to garden, but this year, it’s an exceptionally welcome one. 

Let’s get out there and dig in! 


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