5 Ideas to Green Up Your Outdoor Space for a Potential Mood Boost – National

Living in the city can put a damper on your mood. Air pollution, loud sirens and traffic jams are harmful.

However, a recent study has found that living around different birds and trees can significantly improve your mood.

Even if you live in an apartment with a small balcony, there are ways to transform your green space and bring nature to your front door, says Ryan Godfrey, a botanist with World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF) who lives in Toronto.

“Researchers are finding that people get positive health benefits from having nature nearby,” Godfrey said. “For me personally, I live in an apartment. I have a balcony. That’s my access to green space. The way I bring nature nearby is I grow a native plant garden in containers on my balcony. And that attracts birds and insects and all kinds of biodiversity.”

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Click to play video: 'Montreal woman grows banana trees in her garden'

Montreal woman grows banana trees in her garden

A Canadian study, published in Nature last monthfound that living in a city neighborhood with many bird and tree species was associated with higher levels of mental health satisfaction.

The study found that people who lived in areas with a greater variety of birds were 6.64 percent happier. People who lived near a wider variety of tree species also reported 5.36 percent higher rates of good mental health.

And while Urbanization in Canada continues to increasecity ​​dwellers can still create small, nature-friendly spaces that promote mental well-being and contribute to a healthier urban environment.

Even if outdoor space is limited, from a small balcony to a modest backyard, these tips will help you attract birds to your sanctuary.

For city gardens, native plants are an excellent choice.

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“It is certainly possible to grow plants in containers on a balcony. And I recommend growing native plants — species that are specific to your region,” Godfrey said.

Native plants have been around for thousands of years and as a result have developed a “special, complex and deep relationship with insects and birds in their ecosystem,” he said.

And even better, their local adaptation makes them naturally hardy and low-maintenance, Godfrey adds.

Sweet blue Saskatoon berries ripen on the branches of the shrub.

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Examples of region-specific native plants include Saskatoon berries, a sweet-tart fruit common on the prairies; satin flower, found on the west coast; and the ever-popular wild strawberry in Ontario.

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“Some people think, ‘It’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to cost a lot of money. It’s going to stress me out,'” Godfrey said.

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“But creating a native plant garden and embracing the wilderness is a way to de-stress. You’re integrating into the ecosystem, you’re bringing nature closer, and you’re learning about native plants, how they grow, and what kinds of pollinators they attract. And it’s something anyone can get started with.”

If you are short on space, container gardens can be a great solution for your balcony or patio. According to the City of Toronto websiteFor this you can use buckets, barrels, baskets and plastic containers.

Good drainage is essential for happy plants. The website recommends making sure your containers have drainage holes. If necessary, you can easily poke or drill holes yourself. This prevents water from pooling and potentially rotting your plants’ roots.

Container plants also dry out faster than plants in the ground due to increased exposure to sun and wind. Be prepared to water regularly; most plants need daily watering during warm weather.

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The website recommends growing:

  • salad vegetables
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • corn
  • beans
  • carrots
  • herbs such as thyme, oregano and mint

Vertical gardens are an excellent solution for people with limited space.

Use wall-mounted planters, hanging pots, or trellis to create a vibrant, green display. Good plant choices for vertical gardens include herbs like thyme and oregano, vegetables like beans and peas, and ornamental plants like ivy and ferns.

Godfrey said he grows peas on his balcony, where they climb among some of his native grasses and an edible native species, Jerusalem artichokes.

Click to play the video: 'Gardening: Vertical Gardens'

Go Gardening: Vertical Gardens

The City of Toronto website recommends using long, narrow planters for an herb garden with basil, oregano and parsley.

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“Just cut the leaves off the outside of the plant and they will keep growing week after week,” the author said.

Attracting birds to your green space

By creating a bird-friendly environment in your green space, you add life and movement, and contribute to pollination and pest control.

“I’m standing on the sixth floor balcony and I’ve recorded over 15 species of birds landing on the balcony, including a red-tailed hawk that came out and sat on the balcony with me. It was pretty exciting,” Godfrey said.

Native grasses with long seed heads are a favorite of birds. Leaving those seed heads intact creates a natural food source that birds will appreciate, he said.

Click to play video: 'Bird Lovers of Manitoba'

Bird lovers from Manitoba

Birds may also come to eat insects from the plants. By having a variety of plants you create a space that resembles their natural habitat, making it more attractive for them to come and eat.

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“Just by creating a diverse wildlife garden you are already doing that. You are providing shelter, food and space for insects and very often birds will come too,” says Godfrey.

While bird feeders and houses can be another way to attract birds, he said it’s important to remember that regular cleaning is key. Unclean feeders and houses can become breeding grounds for disease and parasites, potentially harming local bird populations.

The City of Toronto advises that some insects are beneficial to your garden. For example, ladybugs are natural predators of aphids and help keep those pesky pests under control. Bees and butterflies play an important role in pollination and ensure the reproduction of many flowering plants.

Tired of the hassle of replacing annuals each season? Consider perennials, Godfrey suggested.

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These plants are a long-term investment in the beauty of your garden. Unlike annuals that need to be replanted every year, perennials return season after season, bursting with vibrant flowers and lush foliage.

Because they can live for several years, they need to be replanted less often, making them particularly suitable for urban areas where garden space is limited or difficult to access.

Click to play the video: 'Get the most out of perennials: garden tips'

Get the most out of perennials: gardening tips

In addition, most native plants are perennials, Godfrey added, suggesting they are better suited to urban gardening.

“Wild strawberries are the ones I recommend,” Godfrey said. “If people have no idea where to start, plant some wild strawberries. You’ll love them. They’re a lot of fun to grow. They kind of send out runners to the plant itself in other containers.”

Katie Dangerfield

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