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Why green thumbs are trending

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Plants and greenery mitigate the urban heat island effect, which is concerning government­s around the world. In Australia’s challengin­g and changing climate, many of our cities are very vulnerable to heat with heatwaves being our deadliest major weather events.

Scaling it down to individual properties, a thoughtful­ly planted garden can help to cool the front and backyards and make them more livable and usable. A well treed neighbourh­ood can negate the heat island effect caused by hard surfaces, known to increase temperatur­es by three to seven degrees. This will also reduce energy bills for households by 15 to 35 per cent.

Habitat creation for urban wildlife is vital. Gardens aren’t just for us, they can be a haven for birds, bees, butterflie­s and other creatures. And at a time when urban habitat is under threat, every backyard can become a biodiversi­ty hot spot when planted with a diverse mix of plants including local indigenous varieties.

Plants improve our air quality both inside and outside the home, and reduce air pollution. The huge interest in indoor plants is due in part to their looks, but also the way they can clean the air in our homes and make it a healthier place for us to spend time.

Plants and gardens also improve our water quality by slowing down the storm water run-off and filtering out many toxins that would otherwise be present in this run off.

Suburbs with lots of healthy trees and parks are more attractive and, in many cases, more desirable, with this being reflected in increased housing prices. Trees enhance property values as they establish and mature. Overseas studies have shown that mature trees add between 10 to 20 per cent to the value of your property. A national survey of real estate agents in 2019 found well kept gardens, from neat lawns to well-maintained beds and courtyards, could add up to 30 per cent to the re-sale value of a home.

Gardening is good for us – on every level. It keeps us physically and mentally active, helps us live longer, helps us manage stress, and leads to mental health and wellbeing too.

An Australian study by Beyond Blue titled ‘Beyond Blue to Green’ showed clear associatio­ns between close proximity to green space and reduced depression, anxiety and other health problems. Dr Mardie Townsend from Deakin University, who contribute­d to the report, said: “People who perceived their neighbourh­oods as ‘very green’ were shown to have up to 1.6 times greater odds of physical and mental health when compared to those who perceive their neighbourh­oods as ‘less green’.”

This is one of countless studies that show gardening is good for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Gardening is so good for us on every level, and it not only saves, us physically, mentally and emotionall­y, it greens, beautifies and enlivens our backyards, and it helps to save our communitie­s, cities, our country and even the world. I may be biased, but I reckon I am right.

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