The Daily Telegraph
More plants in the front garden helps make us happier
ADDING just a few plants to a bare front garden can lower stress levels as much as two months of mindfulness sessions and help people feel happier, research suggests.
Ornamental plants such as juniper, azalea, clematis, lavender, daffodil bulbs and petunias were introduced into small bare front yards in deprived streets in Salford, Greater Manchester.
The study, by the Royal Horticultural Society and the universities of Sheffield, Westminster and Virginia in the US, then measured the stress levels of residents taking part in the scheme.
Some 42 residents with 38 gardens were involved in the study, with one group receiving their plants a year later to act as a control group.
Residents could each receive one tree, one shrub, one climber and enough smaller plants, bulbs and bedding plants to fill two containers.
The containers were “self watering”, but residents were encouraged to take part in gardening their plot.
The team measured residents’ cortisol – the stress response hormone – and found only 24 per cent of residents had healthy cortisol patterns before the plants went in, but over the following year this increased to 53 per cent.
More than half said the garden helped them feel happier while it helped two fifths relax. Just over a quarter said the plants got them closer to nature.