Here’s the dirt: Gardening is good for you. Tuning  in to nature, whether indoors or out, can help you  de-stress and make you feel, well, grounded.

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Why You Should Do It

The physical benefits of gardening are pretty straightforward—moving, bending, digging and lifting can keep your body limber, says Daryl Beyers, NYBG Gardening Certificate Program Coordinator at The New York Botanical Garden. But unlike running on a treadmill or swimming laps, this is an activity where the fruits of your labor are often more immediately tangible and satisfying. “It’s easy to get lost in gardening. Before you know it, you’ve worked out…and made your backyard prettier.” 

Gardening is also a great mind-expanding hobby. “Connecting with nature establishes a holistic union, joining our mental health with our physical health as both interact with the earth and our environment,” explains Beyers. Plus, growing herbs or any food crop furthers the connection between gardener and garden. “There’s something about growing a plant and then eating it that completes the circle—it fosters an appreciation of the time and effort that go into growing something for sustenance or for the pleasure of it,” says Beyers.

How to Make It Happen

The best way to fit gardening into your schedule is to avoid simple mistakes. “Read a book on gardening skills to familiarize yourself with the basics. It will save you time in the long run and heartbreak in the short term.” Beyers suggests The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch and magazines such as Horticulture and Garden Design. You can also search for tips online or even take a class.

Other great resources for learning are garden clubs, blogs and organizations. Gardeners love to share advice, successes and failures, and experts are often invited to give talks. 

For those who find their days too busy, Beyers suggests a little after-hours gardening—a hiking headlamp can help illuminate the situation. Another plus: Evenings are cooler.

And remember, you don’t need an outdoor space to enjoy the green benefits—just a few basics. “If there’s soil or potting mix, plants and air, it’s a garden!” 

What You’ll Need

Gardening breaks down into two main categories: on the ground and in containers, whether indoors or out. 

Gardening on the ground

  • garden spade
  • trug (a flexible plastic bucket with handles)
  • rake
  • garden shears
  • hand pruners
  • trowel
  • compost
  • mulch

For slightly more advanced gardening

  • organic fertilizers
  • edging shovel
  • scuffle hoe
  • small garden saw

Gardening in containers

  • pots
  • potting mix
  • watering can
  • emulsion fertilizers
  • hand pruners 
  • trowel 

For indoor plants 

  • pot saucers
  • water meter

Backyard-free gardening

You can grow a garden on your balcony or on a free wall inside your house. All you need is potting mix, seeds or plants, containers and a trellis for any climbing plants.