More than two thirds of unpaid carers are managing their stress levels by gardening, according to a new survey by Carers Trust, the UKs largest charity for unpaid carers.

A quarter of carers surveyed also said they had specifically taken up gardening because of their unpaid caring role, giving them much needed downtime.

The snapshot survey was carried out by Carers Trust to mark National Garden and Health Week, which runs from 18 to 24 August.

The therapeutic qualities of spending time in the great outdoors, visiting gardens and gardening, have long been known. 

Unpaid carers who look after their gardens said they found that it helps to reduce their stress levels and has a calming effect, with respondents reporting it was a form of therapy, for the social aspect and by sharing their love of plants and gardens.

Juliana, 65, from Suffolk, who cares for her husband, said: “My garden is where I can be myself, away from the carer role. Through being a carer these last few years, my love of gardening has expanded 100%. I don’t often go out now, just locally to post a letter or to the local shop, so my garden is a place I go to.

“Being able to just pop out into the garden to plant a few new plants or deadhead blooms, or pull a few weeds is such a release from the demands of the role. It brings me such deep joy to smell a rose and scented petunias. We sit out in the garden in the early evening, after all the day’s needs have been met. My husband loves to watch the birds on the bird table and being surrounded by a variety of plants and small trees, it gives such a lovely peaceful energy.”

Giles Meyer, CEO of Carers Trust, said: “Being a carer is one of the toughest jobs there is, and our survey results show that finding space for relaxation and calming time out in a garden is vitally important for a carer’s own mental and physical health, whilst meeting the demands of their challenging caring roles. 

“As a key beneficiary of the National Garden Scheme, Carers Trust receives annual funding which allows us to provide vital advice, information and respite care for carers across the UK.”

Carers Trust’s research has been released to coincide with its largest funder, the National Garden Scheme’s annual Gardens and Health Week, held between 18–24 August. 

The National Garden Scheme’s campaign highlights the positive impact of visiting gardens on mental wellbeing and encourages people to visit a private garden as an act of self-care. 

The National Garden Scheme open private gardens for charity and has been supporting Carers Trust since 1996 – having donated over £3.9m in that time to help the charity support carers and raise the profile of carers’ issues. In 2018, the National Garden Scheme donated £400,000 to Carers Trust.

Richmond Carers Centre – case study about therapeutic gardening

It started off as a 10-week project to help carers with their gardening skills, but three years on, the group, now fondly known as The Gardening Gang, is still going strong.

Their mission – a small, derelict plot of garden at the rear of their local carers centre in Richmond. Full of clay soil, broken bricks and a quirky cast off from Hampton Court Palace, the group, who were already keen gardeners, hadn’t anticipated that it would turn into a regular retreat where they could not only learn and develop new techniques, but also form some firm friendships, while giving them some time away from their regular caring role.

“You learn so much from attending the group and there is also the feel-good factor and the sense of achievement in seeing the garden growing and changing,” said Barry, who has been attending the group since its inception.

The group is led by local gardener Jude, who has been volunteering her time once a month for the past three years.
She said: “It is not just pure gardening. They learn and bring other skills and have developed other techniques.”

The group of carers were given a plot of land at the back of the service and have transformed what was once a derelict plot into a sanctuary away from caring.

Further information

To visit a garden or to find out more about the scheme visit Carers.org.

Note to editors:

For more information, please contact Lynsey Mellows, 07824 539481 lmellows@carers.org or Svetlana Kirov, 07824 595 786 skirov@carers.org 

  1. Carers Trust is a major charity for, with and about carers. We work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.  www.carers.org  
  2. We do this with a UK wide network of quality assured independent partners and through the provision of grants to help carers get the extra help they need to live their own lives. With locally based Network Partners we are able to support carers in their homes through the provision of replacement care, and in the community with information, advice, emotional support, hands on practical help and access to much needed breaks. We offer specialist services for carers of people of all ages and conditions and a range of individual tailored support and group activities. 
  3. Our vision is that unpaid carers count and can access the help they need to live their lives.