The Psychological Benefits of Public Gardens for Urban Residents

Bennett, Ellen
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University of Delaware
Because the urban environment is inherently stressful, urban residents need outlets for stress reduction and restoration. Exposure to nature in a variety of settings has been shown by researchers to reduce stress in humans. Little research, however, has been undertaken to quantify and describe the benefits of visiting public gardens. This research examines the relationship between a visit to an urban, public garden and stress reduction in urban residents. Through an on-site visitor exit survey, visitors to two urban, public gardens were questioned about their perceived stress levels before and after a garden visit. Respondents also were questioned about their reasons for visiting the gardens. The survey results indicate a reduction in stress in urban residents after a garden visit. Furthermore, urban residents identify relaxation, stress reduction, and inspiration as the three most important reasons for visiting the gardens. All three reasons are related to feelings or affects, suggesting that urban residents find the affective rewards of visiting public gardens to be more important than other, more tangible rewards. The results of this research will be useful in public garden administrators’ efforts to obtain funding from both public and private sources. The positive benefits available to the urban community as a result of a garden visit should be emphasized to funding sources as proof of public gardens’ significance to the community. Garden administrators can further use the research results in promoting gardens to the public, thus encouraging increased attendance and membership.
People-plant interactions , Psychology , Sociology , Motivtions , Horticultural therapy