Is gardening associated with greater happiness of urban residents?

  • February 2020
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Multiple

Ambrose, G., Das, K. Fan, Y., & A. Ramaswami (2020). Is gardening associated with greater happiness of urban residents? A multi-activity, dynamic assessment in the Twin-Cities region, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning, 198.

ABSTRACT: As cities seek to become more livable and environment-friendly, activities like bicycling, walking, and urban gardening (household and community-gardening) are receiving much attention. However, few field studies have measured well-being of urban gardening, particularly during household gardening. Our study develops protocols to measure emotional well-being (EWB) reported during household gardening, comparing it with other leisure and day-to-day activities. We also explore how gardening EWB varies across gardener type (vegetable vs ornamental), demographics, neighborhood type, and companionship during gardening. Using a recently developed app-based Day Reconstruction Method, EWB was measured across 370 participants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, USA, wherein 118 (32%) reported engaging in household gardening. Innovatively, five measures of EWB were computed for each participant for each activity type: average net affect, average happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness). Among all three average EWB measures, gardening is among the top 5 out of 15 activities assessed, and, is not statistically different from biking, walking and eating out. All four of these activities fall behind other leisure/recreation activities, which ranks first. For frequency of experiencing peak happiness, only other leisure/recreation activities were statistically higher than all the remaining (14) activities. Average net affect of gardening was significantly higher for vegetable gardeners (vs ornamental), for low-income gardeners (vs higher income) and for women. Companionship while gardening at home, race/ethnicity and urban versus suburban location showed no significant difference. Livability and equity considerations based on these EWB findings, and their impacts on urban food plans, are discussed.

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News coverage:

Sowing seeds of happiness: Emotional well-being while gardening similar to other popular activities, study finds (Princeton Environmental Institute, May 11) (plus companion infographic)

Want to boost your emotional wellbeing? Take up gardening (Sunday Times Live, May 13)

Download infographic: Well-Being While Gardening at Home by the Numbers

Wellbeing while gardening infographic