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Gardening benefits body, mind, wallet

URBANA, Ill. — A continuously connected lifestyle can drain internal batteries quickly, but digging into the world outside may be the best way to rejuvenate, revitalize and recharge.

“The gadgets of gardening aren’t flashy: a shovel, pruners, hoses and bags of seeds,” says Martha A. Smith, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “All are simple yet practical, and useful but not at all high-tech.”

Grandfather and grandchild tending garden together on sunny day
Photo credit Unsplash. Whether it’s to have access to healthy foods, the exercise or to spend time with others, gardening is a gratifying, practical hobby.

Gardener responses to a National Garden Bureau survey about why they garden hailed the health, economic and social benefits, and extolled the many joys found in working the land. With so many advantages to gardening, it’s not surprising the top 10 reasons are so diverse.

Garden to produce safe, healthy food - Consumers are increasingly aware of food-borne illnesses, food contamination, and the additives and preservatives found in processed food. This, coupled with interest in organic gardening, has increased the availability of organic produce.

Working out(side) - Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 300 calories for women, and almost 400 calories for men. Mowing the grass mimics a vigorous walk. Planting requires bending and stretching, just like an exercise class, and people with physical limitations can take advantage of devices designed to help. An Illinois Extension webinar on March 9 focuses on such adaptive tools. More information is available at

A thing of beauty - A well-tended garden enhances any setting of any size, and provides a pleasurable vista, and trees and shrubs provide color and shade, as well as shelter for birds and wildlife. More information about small gardening is available at

Garden to learn - Gardening helps individuals learn by doing while building knowledge, gardening expertise and problem-solving skills. Gardeners find that the more they learn, the more they want to know.

Garden to earn - The love of plants can lead to anything from a job at a local garden center to owning a landscape business. Gardeners also can sell their products at local farmers markets or craft shows, and landscaping projects can increase property values by up to 15%.

Sharing knowledge, broadening horizons - Gardeners love to share their gardens and their knowledge, thus expanding their social circle. Even during a pandemic, meetups with other gardeners can take place in socially distanced environments or online, and provides a way to gather information, ask questions and get involved.

Tapping into creativity - For many, gardening is an outlet for inspiration and artistic expression. Attention to design can produce everything from the serene, contemplative mood of a Japanese garden to the romantic feel of an English cottage.

Gardening to win - For people with a competitive streak, gardening is a way to show off their skills. County and state fairs provide opportunities for adults and children to show off their skills growing giant pumpkins, beautiful bountiful beans or the perfect zinnia.

Benefits to emotional health - Gardens play an important part in wellbeing. A garden might serve as a tranquil retreat or private escape from the demands of everyday life. A healthy harvest provides a sense of achievement and feelings of success. Gardening builds confidence and self-esteem.

Grow lasting memories - Gardening can be shared with the next generation. They are the gardeners of tomorrow, and memories of past gardens and gardeners help build these memories as they recall tasting the sweetness of a cherry tomato picked right from their loved one’s garden. Find ideas about cultivating the next generation of gardeners at

For more information about the National Gardening Survey, visit

SOURCE: Martha A. Smith, Horticulture Educator, Illinois Extension
WRITER: Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension
ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for the University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and communities to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

PHOTO ACCESS: The photo in this article is available to download for media use.