Researchers gave residents in a deprived part of Manchester a selection of trees, climbers plants, shrubs, bulbs, and bedding plants. Scientists measured the level of stress hormones, cortisol, in their saliva.
Before the experiment, only 24 percent of residents had healthy cortisol levels. One year later, this had more than doubled to 53 percent. Reported stress levels also decreased by six percent, which is similar to the long term impact of eight weekly mindfulness sessions.
The residents also said they felt an increased sense of pride in the area and every single person said their wellbeing improved thanks to the plants, with 40 percent saying they felt more relaxed and 26 percent felt closer to nature. A quarter of the residents even went out and bought more plants.
The authors say the study offers persuasive evidence against the paving over gardens. One in four UK gardens were completely paved over in 2015 – up from one in ten a decade previously. One in three gardens have no plants growing in them at all.
Access to green spaces is vital for our wellbeing. People who spent just two hours in nature a week report better overall health. Exposure to greenery has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and premature death.
Green spaces also improve air quality.
Do you get enough access to nature? Let us know here.
Compiled by Phelokazi Mbude