Research & Evidence

We have collected studies of therapeutic gardening into a Research Index  which can be used to find evidence to support your therapeutic gardening work and funding applications.  As further research studies into the benefits of gardening come to our attention we will list them in the Research Index and highlight some of them on this page. 

Research Digest
A new feature highlighting research in the field of therapeutic gardening.

Benefits of a gardening project for people with dementia in nursing homes
Abstract Gardening and garden-related activities can be a fun way of getting nursing home residents more physically active and engaged. For residents with dementia, they can provide opportunities to be involved, express themselves and interact with others. Gardening can also be a way of getting all members of the nursing home community involved in a common project. This article describes a gardening project undertaken at two nursing homes in Scotland, where it was found to have numerous benefits for all involved.
 McClellan J (2018) Benefits of a gardening project for people with dementia in nursing homes. Nursing Times [online]; 114: 2, 38-40
Jeanette McClellan is a retired nurse helping to deliver on the Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland in residential care settings.

In July 2016, a visit to the Trellis office from Maxel Ng of the National Parks Board , Singapore and currently a member of the Visiting Staff at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, brought us news of studies being carried out there, including The Effects of Horticultural Therapy on Asian Elderly’s Mental Health . So far the results are significantly positive - we’ll link to the full research paper, when it’s published. Singapore has adopted a strategic approach to therapeutic gardening, with direct government investment in gardening projects across the country, see the wealth of gardening and greenspace in Singapore’s culture at

Gardening and well being

Therapeutic Gardening: theory and evidence
A summary of the main studies relevant to gardening therapy Word | pdf

Trellis Annual Conference 11th March 2016 : Dr Rachel Bragg, Development Coordinator, Care Farming UK, delivered an animated and enlightening overview of therapeutic gardening, its place within green care and evidence of how it supports health and wellbeing. To open the presentation please right click on the link and select 'open in new window' . This is the accompanying research paper.  

AIPH International Green City Conference: Growing Green & Healthy Places
Sir Richard Thompson KCVO, DM, President of the Royal College of Physicians in his conference paper  Why and How Green Environments are Better for Your Health    (please right click on the link and select  'open in new window') at the AIPH International Green City Conference,  1st April 2014

Gardens and health: Implications for policy and practice
A useful new publication, 2016,  making the case for increased use of gardening in health services, and rounding up some good research references about the health benefits of gardens and gardening.

Forward to Nature: Why a Walk in the Woods Could Calm ADHD, Make Your Family Happier and Deliver Your Kid to Harvard. Research shows getting kids in nature can increase intelligence, creativity, and well-being, as well as solving a host of other psychological and physical illnessess.

Longitudinal study of older people in Sweden highlighting the importance of non sport based physical activity in cardio vascular health.
The importance of non-exercise physical activity for cardiovascular health and longevity, Ekblom-Bak, E. et al.,Br J Sports Med: 28th October 2013

Green spaces deliver lasting mental health benefits. Analysing data that followed people over a five year period, the research has found that moving to a greener area not only improves people’s mental health, but that the effect continues long after they have moved. Article:.

Healing gardens and cognitive behavioral units in the management of Alzheimer's disease patients: the Nancy experience.

Healing gardens: recommendations and criteria for design.

What Is the Evidence to Support the Use of Therapeutic Gardens for the Elderly?.


Physical Activity and the Prevention of Depression: A Systematic Review of Prospective Studies
George Mammen and  Guy Faulkner, PhD shows evidence that any level of physical activity including low levels (e.g., walking or  gardening  <150 minutes/weeks), can prevent future depression. From a population health perspective, promoting physical activity  may serve as a valuable mental health promotion strategy in reducing the risk of developing depression. Published in the
American Journal of Preventive Medicine Volume 45, Issue 5 , Pages 649-657, November 2013

The Growing Healthy Older People in Wales (GHOP) research programme reveals that allotment and community gardening reduces stress, boosts self-esteem and enhances feelings of happiness and well-being, particularly for women see the report at[web].pdf

ecotherapy benefits for mental health and wellbeing
Mind (the mental health support charity in England and Wales) recently released Feel Better Outside, Feel Better Inside - a report showing the many benefits of ecotherapy for mental wellbeing. Ecotherapy involves activities such as gardening, food growing and conservation work in natural environments. The report demonstrates that ecotherapy improves mental health, boosts self-esteem, helps people with mental health problems return to work, improves physical health and reduces social isolation. It also calculates the savings to the public purse from engaging people in ecotherapy activities.see report at  
also see Mind's report Ecominds effects on mental wellbeing: an evaluation for mind at

Allotment gardening and health: a comparative survey among allotment gardeners and their
neighbors without an allotment,  van den Berg et al. Environmental Health 2010,

Di Blackmore PhD postgraduate student at the University of Stirling gives an update on her research into the health effects of therapeutic gardening.

The main application of the research will be to raise awareness and convince service managers, funders and policy makers in organisations such as national government, local authorities, health and environmental agencies, of the value delivered by such projects.

Green space and Health

Ground-breaking research into the impacts of greenspace, blue space and urban environments on individual and population health was reported at the GreenHealth conference in Edinburgh in March. The conference, organised by greenspace scotland on behalf of the GreenHealth research partnership heard from speakers including Prof George Morris, Prof Richard Mitchell of Glasgow University, Prof Catharine Ward Thompson of the OPENspace Research Centre and Prof David Miller of the James Hutton Institute. In the final session delegates proposed key recommendations for policy, practice and further research. The recommendations, together with the presentations are now available at greenspace scotland


Trellis Research Group

The principal aim of the Trellis research group is to conduct research to build an evidence base that demonstrates the benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture initiatives in Scotland.


In support of these aims, the group intends to:

  1. Review the available sources of research and evidence in the social and therapeutic horticulture field, classifying the methods, tools and results formulations for use by the Trellis network of projects (e.g. suitability; skills, qualifications and/or training necessary; etc.)
  2. Sponsor research studies using qualified practitioners and volunteer projects to further develop the Scottish evidence base.
  3. Publish research study results in professional journals and other related media of good standing worldwide.
  4. Build a reference base of good practice, consistent standards and information sources to share across the Trellis network (e.g. via the website and other publications.)
  5. Monitor the policy development of national government, local authorities, health and environmental agencies to ensure continued alignment of the evidence base.
  6. Work closely with similar groups to exchange findings worldwide.


Fiona Thackeray Anne Jepson


Aims and Objectives June 2008 Agenda June 2008 Minutes June 2008 Briefing Paper (AJ) June 2008 Briefing Paper (FT)

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