The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of people’s lives. Lockdown measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have been more stringent for those aged over 70, at highest risk for the disease. Here, we examine whether home garden usage is associated with self-reported mental and physical wellbeing in older adults, during COVID-19 lockdown in Scotland. This study analysed data from 171 individuals (mean age 84±0.5 years) from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, who completed an online survey approximately two months after lockdown commenced (May/June, 2020), and reported having access to a home garden. The survey also included items on garden activities (gardening, relaxing), frequency of garden usage, and measures of self-rated physical health, emotional and mental health, anxiety regarding COVID-19, and sleep quality. Ordinal regression models were adjusted for sex, living alone, education, occupational social class, anxiety and depressive symptoms, body mass index, and history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Neither gardening nor relaxing in the garden were associated with health outcomes. However, higher frequency of garden usage during lockdown was associated with better self-rated physical health (P=0.005), emotional and mental health (P=0.04), sleep quality (P=0.03), and a composite health score (P=0.001), after adjusting for covariates. None of the garden measures were associated with perceived change in physical health, mental and emotional health, or sleep quality, from pre-lockdown levels. The results of the current study provide support for positive health benefits of spending time in a garden—though associations may be bidirectional—and suggest that domestic gardens could be a potential health resource during the COVID-19 pandemic.


© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Corley, J., Okely, J., Taylor, A., Page, D., Welstead, M., Skarabela, B., Redmond, P., Cox, S. & Russ, T. 2021, 'Home garden use during COVID-19: Associations with physical and mental wellbeing in older adults', Journal of Environmental Psychology, 73, article no: 101545. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101545

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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