We’ve talked about the ROI of landscape investments yielding up to 20% in the value of your home, but since Earth Day and Arbor Day are approaching, let’s take a moment to appreciate everything a healthy landscape has to offer – including the emotional and physical health benefits.
Health Benefits of a Healthy Landscape
Scientific studies have documented the positive effects healthy plants and other landscape elements have on our immediate environment, including the air we breathe, temperature regulation and your body’s overall health.
Let’s start with air quality. A healthy landscape not only produces oxygen, it captures dust, smoke particles and other pollutants, improving the quality of the air you breathe in multiple ways. Healthy landscapes also makes it easier to spend time outdoors as your lawn, trees and other elements help control the microclimate surrounding your home. For example, an area in direct sunlight can be 15 degree hotter than a shaded area within your landscape. This means your landscape design could mean the difference between enjoying time outside in a pleasant 75 degree temperature and retreating inside to avoid sweltering in 90 degree heat.
By creating a pleasant outdoor environment, you will be more likely to reap the health benefits associated with spending time exposed to natural light and greenspace. People of all ages benefit from increased Vitamin D production, also known as ‘the sunshine vitamin,” when sunlight hits the skin and the liver and kidneys get involved in the creation of the vitamin.
Benefits even extend to indirect sunlight and the view of a healthy landscape. Some experts claim that even looking out the window at nature can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health by reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
If you or a loved one is recovering from an injury or surgery, it also makes sense to make outside time part of your recovery plan. Natural light aids recovery and reduces the need for painkillers, according to University of Pittsburgh researchers, as a 2005 study showed that spinal surgery patients reported less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications if they were exposed to natural light. Another study compared the recoveries of patients whose windows offered a view of trees to a brick wall, and showed that the view of a natural landscape had a positive effect on the recovery process.
Emotional Benefits of a Healthy Landscape
Despite the fact that most Americans spend approximately 90% their time indoors, it’s good for your mind, body and spirit to get outside. In addition to the health benefits listed above, natural light also is a mood booster. Studies showed as little as five minutes of activity in a green space resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood.
Increasing your “green time,” or time spent outside amid plants and trees, can also increase your ability to concentrate. According to a study published by Harvard Medical School, researchers have reported that children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. And while the experts in the Harvard Health Letter are quick to point out that the studies were only conducted with children, the positive effects of spending time outside in green areas are likely to extend to adults as well.
All in all, time spent in a healthy landscape can have a great impact on your mental and physical health.