gardening occupational therapy mental health for adults

Gardening Occupational Therapy Mental Health is very helpful. This is due to the fact that gardening is a physical activity that may boost one’s sense of control, selfworth. All of these significant elements could contribute to increased mental well-being.

PowerPACPlus’s Summary

  • Definition of Gardening Occupational Therapy
  • Gardening and growing food in particular yield remarkable benefits.
  • These include improvements in self-esteem, teamwork, social interaction, planning, problem-solving and coping skills, as well as a passion for gardening and community that can last throughout life

Definition of Gardening Occupational Therapy

Gardening occupational therapy is the performance of all activities that involve the care of plants and their environment. It is a versatile therapeutic medium and various aspects of gardening can be assessed and adapted to meet the needs of a wide variety of clients.

Benefits of Gardening Occupational Therapy for Mental Health

Just like outside in the garden, viewing green plants in indoor living spaces can lift your mood and sense of well-being. But the benefits of caring for a living plant, even a single houseplant, transcend green views. Studies show that caring for a plant is particularly valuable for people who are dealing with difficult personal circumstances beyond their control that negatively impact physical and emotional health.

In one study, elderly assisted living residents were given a four-week lesson on houseplant care and given responsibility for a plant. Compared to non-gardening residents, the indoor growers had significantly higher self-assessments of health, happiness and quality of life. The staff also noted that the gardeners required less care from the staff, were more alert and social, and took more responsibility for their actions and choices. 6 Indoor gardening has also been shown to reduce agitation and improve sleep and awareness in dementia patients. 3 The sense of need and control over a plant’s well-being also improves the caretaker’s well-being.

Healing power of gardening, growing and community

When assessing the benefits of gardening, gardeners often note a reduction in stress, tension and anxiety. Research proves that this is more than a feeling. In one study, participants had to complete a psychologically stressful task and then measure cortisol, a hormone the body produces in response to stress. Periods of gardening or reading followed. While both groups showed lower cortisol levels after these activities, the gardening group was significantly lower, indicating greater physical relief from acute stress. They also reported a greater improvement in their mood.

Community gardens hold promise as an effective extension of therapy for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and drug or alcohol addiction, and even for children and adults facing the typical stresses of modern urban life. Working together, gardening and growing food in particular yield remarkable benefits. These include improvements in self-esteem, teamwork, social interaction, planning, problem-solving and coping skills, as well as a passion for gardening and community that can last throughout life.

Growing fruits and vegetables for three months in a therapeutic communal gardening program resulted in a significant decrease in depression and cognitive distortion in patients diagnosed with clinical depression. Those findings were still valid three months after the end of the program. Children at a juvenile rehabilitation center who participated in a gardening program learned to manage their emotions and behavior more effectively and emerged with a much improved opinion of themselves. Most also indicated that they intended to continue gardening after their stay.

healing power of gardening growing and community

Occupational therapy gardening intervention Ideas for adults

  • Gardening as a remedy
  • Gardening as an end


  • Watering a plant, several plants
  • Pick and arrange flowers
  • Carry water and tools
  • Trimming, cutting
  • Watering with a cup, hose, spray bottle
  • Wash harvester
  • Planting
  • Weeding
  • Shoveling ground
  • Composting
  • Potting
  • Paint jars
  • Molding clay pots (models)
  • Collection of small seeds (fine motor)
  • Planning a new garden
  • Leaf blower
  • Demolition
  • Sweeping
  • Fertilization
  • Maintenance, cleaning
  • Organization of tools, toolbox
  • Lifting of various loads
  • Standing, kneeling, crouching
  • Walk on different terrain, levels
  • Put on/off gardening gloves
  • Use of tools
  • Dig holes (uncover and find objects)
  • Grip strength
  • Joint protection
  • Cognition (planning, problem solving, research)
  • Double duty – categorization, recall, seasonal plants, what grows best, etc.
  • Push and drive (a lawnmower)
  • Scents for the flowers
  • Safety, avoid falls, injuries, thorns, etc.
  • Indoor gardening, greenhouse
  • Other occupations in the garden (e.g. painting, eating, cooking)
  • Garden competitions (tallest, biggest, tastiest)
  • Mindfulness, relaxation, stress management
  • Socialization (other clients)
  • Gardening group
  • Shopping for gardening with the client (e.g. buying seeds)
  • Sequencing, following instructions
  • Bonsai, Chia Pets

If you have any ideas or questions please comment below and don’t forget to follow our website to read more interesting articles about garden such as: How does gardening improve mental health?, Horticultural therapy activities for the elderly, garden therapy DIY garden projects yummy recipes crafty goodness 


Gardening can make you feel more peaceful and content. Focusing your attention on the immediate tasks and details of gardening can reduce negative thoughts and feelings and can make you feel better in the moment. Just spending time around plants relieves stress for many people.

Gardens can be relaxing. Just looking at a green space can help us de-stress. They can also give us a sense of accomplishment, increasing self-confidence and self-esteem. When you feel depressed, you feel incapable of anything.

Studies have shown that gardening and horticultural therapy can: Reduce symptoms of anxiety, and depression and improve attention.

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