Time in the garden can bridge health gap between rich and poor – Exeter study shows

Current trend is to increase development density. Gardens are getting smaller and in most cases can hardly be described as “private”. Most “allotments” are now “community gardens” and do not have the protection that a formal allotment has. EDDC refuses to countenance the creation of a new National Park which would put emphasis on using green space for recreation. EDDC prefers to have a freer hand over development in the AONB (which would become the National Park). – Owl could go on.

Sian de Bell, of Exeter University medical school and the lead author of the study, said: “A growing body of evidence points to the health and wellbeing benefits of access to green or coastal spaces. Our study is one of the largest to date to look at the benefits of gardens and gardening specifically.

Ben Webster, Environment Editor www.thetimes.co.uk

Spending time in the garden is as beneficial for health and wellbeing as living in a wealthy area, a study has found.

Scientists studied the impact of using a garden for relaxing or gardening and found that it could cancel out the health disadvantage of living in a poor area.

The study also found that people with access to a private garden had higher psychological wellbeing than those who did not. It concluded that private gardens were “a potential health resource” that could not necessarily be matched by having access to a park or public green space.

The team analysed data from nearly 8,000 people collected by Natural England between 2009 and 2016 and found that those who spent time in the garden were significantly more likely to report general good health and greater physical activity levels than those who did not.

Among those who regularly used their garden, 71 per cent reported high wellbeing compared with 61 per cent who did not use their garden. A similar difference in wellbeing was found between the highest and lowest income groups.

The Royal Horticultural Society, which contributed to the study, said that the results showed the need to ensure that developers provide private gardens when building estates. About 26 per cent of new homes do not have gardens, up from 18 per cent in 1996, and the average garden has been getting smaller, according to previous research.

Sian de Bell, of Exeter University medical school and the lead author of the study, said: “A growing body of evidence points to the health and wellbeing benefits of access to green or coastal spaces. Our study is one of the largest to date to look at the benefits of gardens and gardening specifically.

“Our findings suggest that whilst being able to access an outdoor space such as a garden or yard is important, using that space is what really leads to benefits for health and wellbeing.”

Dr Mathew White, a co-author also from Exeter University, said: “If you live in a poor area, you can at least use your garden to give you the same level of health you would have if you lived in a rich area and did not use your garden. People in richer areas are generally healthier but if they don’t use their garden, their health is the same as people who live in poorer areas who do use their garden.”

Professor Alistair Griffiths, director of science at the Royal Horticultural Society and co-author of the paper in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, said: “This work adds to the increasing body of scientific evidence on the health benefits of gardens and gardening. As the Covid crisis has demonstrated, there’s an urgent need to include the provision of private gardens in the planning process to better support the UK’s preventative health agenda and the wellbeing of our nation.”

Marian Spain, the interim chief executive of Natural England, said that the benefits of spending time in back gardens or other green spaces could not be overestimated “and this research shines a light on the impact this has on people’s health and wellbeing”.