Gardening has long been one of the nation’s favourite pastimes but the number of greenfingered Brits has soared in recent years. Along with staples such as Gardener’s World, there are now many more gardening-focused TV shows, radio programmes, podcasts and YouTube videos than ever before.
Could garden therapy also be a valuable addition to the employee benefits offered by businesses?
The benefits of gardening have long been recognised. It’s great for all-round fitness and mental wellbeing, and long-time gardeners are well aware of the calming effect of spending time outdoors. Therapeutic horticulture is a relatively new idea, however, and involves using gardening to help those with mental health problems and even the early stages of dementia. Gardening is an excellent stress reliever, and some business leaders believe it could be just the tonic for stressed out employees.
An increasing number of companies are now recognising the potential of gardens to help maintain employees’ wellbeing. Many companies have staff gardens where employees can get involved in horticulture, or simply enjoy spending time outside the office in a soothing, natural environment. One of the best things about setting up a workplace garden is that it doesn’t require huge amounts of space.
While a large garden might appear more impressive initially, even the smallest of spaces can become an oasis of calm for colleagues needing time out from the working day to recharge their batteries and reconnect with nature. Smaller spaces often require greater creativity, too, meaning they can often be the most interesting gardens of all.
For firms without access to outdoor space on the ground, roof gardens are a great alternative and make the most of an often neglected space. Raised beds or planters are easy to maintain and require very little financial outlay for firms looking to offer a staff garden on a budget.
Of course, it’s not always possible to add an outdoor garden, particularly in built-up city areas. However, indoor gardens have become increasingly popular recently. While these offer a very different environment to traditional gardens, they can have the same calming and uplifting effect on employees and can make it possible to maintain a green space even in the most densely populated areas.
In order to reap the greatest benefits from a staff garden, businesses should encourage employees to get involved. This is far more appealing and will offer more effective garden therapy than simply adding a green space that no one is allowed to touch, no matter how attractive it is.
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