As the RHS kicks off its first Virtual Chelsea, new research from the organisation shows that nearly six in 10 people (57%) now value their gardens more than previously. More than half (51%) said they will value their garden more after lockdown.
A One Poll Survey to 2000 respondents across the UK commissioned by the UK’s Gardening Charity also found that seven in 10 people (71%) who have outside space say that having a garden, courtyard or balcony has helped their mental health during lockdown. Some 60% of respondents felt that having some outdoor space has helped their physical health during recent times.
Even the smallest gardens have been helping with people’s mental health, with some 59% of people with 10sqm or less of outdoor space saying it helped their mental health.
People with outside space are almost twice more likely to feel very satisfied with life currently compared to those with no outdoor space. Those with an outdoor garden, balcony or courtyard were also twice as likely to feel they do things that are worthwhile all the time.
Monty Don says: “I have written and spoken many times of my own battles with depression and over the years have been much helped by medication, therapy, sun lamps, yoga and, not least, by an astonishingly supportive and long-suffering family. But none of this works without the balm of touching ground, of being nourished by the earth. We garden to nurture our little corner of nature but just as importantly, to nourish our souls and more and more people are tapping into its healing power.
“Plant a seed that becomes a beautiful flower and your life is immeasurably enriched. Simply sit in a garden and listen to the birds and the world is set in a perspective that is empowering. Gardens are fun and beautiful and rewarding – but much more than that, gardens are desperately important and we need them now more than ever for our physical and mental well-being.”
Whilst any size of outside space has been helping people’s mental health, bigger spaces have had a bigger impact on how happy people feel with 26% of people with 100sqm or less of outside space saying they were not very happy or not happy at all, compared to 20% of people with 101sqm or more. Some 67% of people who have no outside space are more likely to want it when they next move house.
Sue Biggs, RHS director general, says: “Following lockdown one of the biggest concerns in the UK is going to be people’s mental health. With our research showing that 70% of people feel their gardens have helped their mental health during this time, the RHS is urging developers, local planners and the Government to value gardens as much as the public do.
“Houses are getting larger, but this must not be to the detriment of gardens and outside space. The Government’s target to build 300,000 homes should now stipulate that they must have either gardens – private or communal – or a balcony. This new research shows that any outside space is a valued resource for our mental and physical health. Now, more than ever, we know we need more outside space at home. The Government has a huge opportunity to make a positive difference to the long-term mental and physical health of our nation.”