Can front gardens improve mental health?

A research project in collaboration with the University of Sheffield has found that green front gardens reduce both psychological and physiological stress

Green space makes us feel better, in so many different ways. As a nation, we're becoming aware of the impact nature and green spaces have on our physical and mental well-being but it's not all rosy in our front gardens. They're disappearing at an alarming rate - more than 4.5 million of them contain no plants at all, and a quarter of front gardens are now totally paved over.

Despite multiple studies that show the positive effects of green spaces, very little work as been done on front gardens – until now. Dr Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui, (the first RHS Wellbeing Fellow) researched the therapeutic effects of front gardens during her PhD at the University of Sheffield.

An appetite for green space

You only have to look at the popularity of nature play groups or the success of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening to see that there is a huge appetite for all kinds of interaction with plants and the natural world, and we see it as an important part of our children's education.

During the difficult COVID lockdowns, many of us have found a new sense of appreciation for our gardens and local green spaces. We're still very much a nation of gardeners – RHS membership has increased by more than 100,000 over the past five years.

In the last few years, Lauriane has asked the nation about their gardens, gardening, and well-being, with responses going on to form part of our Campaign to Green Great Britain and Lauriane’s wider research project.

Thank you to everybody who took the time to respond to Lauriane's questionnaires. Her research findings are passing through the scientific peer-review process for publication. 

Current publications include: 

  • Chalmin-Pui LS, Roe J, Griffiths A, Smyth N, Heaton T, Clayden A, Cameron R. (2021). “It made me feel brighter in myself” – The health and well-being impacts of a residential front garden horticultural intervention. Landscape and Urban Planning, 205
  • Chalmin-Pui LS, Griffiths A, Roe J, Cameron RWF. (2019) Bringing fronts back: a research agenda to investigate the health and well-being impacts of front gardens. Challenges, 10 (37)

Hear an update from Dr Chalmin-Pui on the project: (item starts at 09:18)

How can I help?

Whether you have a tiny windowsill to transform with a pot or you’re working on a bigger project – anyone can make a transformation, no matter what size.

To get involved, simply start transforming a grey space in your community or at home with plants. It could be your own front garden, an empty concrete corner, an ugly alleyway or a boring stretch of tarmac that would benefit from new planting. Or it could be a green space that you improve for wildlife by adding more nectar and pollen-rich plants. We have plenty of ideas to inspire you

Start greening your outdoor space now!

See also

PhD details

Do front garden landscapes influence health and well-being?
Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui1, Ross Cameron1, Jenny Roe2, Alistair Griffiths3 and Paul Alexander3
1 University of Sheffield
2 University of Virginia
3 Royal Horticultural Society


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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.