Did you know that living in a greener environment can really improve your mental health? There have been studies on this and after spending quite some time in South Florida, I believe it.

I recently chatted with a representative from The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) to discuss how important it is to maintain your living landscape. The company also provided an awesome infographic that highlights many of the points from this interview.

OPEI suggests families do to keep the momentum going even on off-days?

Spending time in a living landscape is important for everyone, according to OPEI. “We encourage everyone to make time to get outside daily. Studies show that you and your family reap a number of health benefits from being outside and in green spaces.”

Living landscapes can minimize stress in both adults and children alike. OPEI shared additional benefits to living landscapes below:

– It promotes physical fitness, healthy kids and good mental health;
– Gets everyone moving.

In places like South Florida, OPEI advises families to get outside early in the day before the day gets really hot. “It’s also important to stay hydrated and drink lots of water and don’t forget that sunscreen!”

Perfect For The Yard
One thing Jeff and I really enjoy seeing are palm trees whenever we drive up to our home or even to the beach. They’re so relaxing! OPEI shared the types of plants that help with mental health and can be kept indoors.

The key to creating the perfect living landscape is to look for plants that fit your climate zone and lifestyle, suggested OPEI. “Studies show having indoor plants, and even looking out windows at green spaces, can help reduce stress levels and promote faster healing in hospital patients. Lots of plants can be kept indoors, too. Talk with your area green house or master gardener about what types of plants are best for you and your lifestyle. Some plants require more attention than others.”

I’ve always found it interesting how being closer to nature can help improve the relationships in our lives. I’ve seen it in my parents whenever they come to visit us; they seem less stressed. We’re slowly trying to convince them to make the move. OPEI shared a couple of tips for families looking to transition from urban areas to greener landscapes.

“Many people believe the only way to get a living landscape is to move to the country,” according to OPEI. “But you can have a living landscape in an urban setting. In fact, it’s key to human health and well-being, as well as to birds, insects, and other wildlife, to have living and growing plants around us — in all settings.”

If you have a yard – even a small one — you want a healthy mix of climate-appropriate, grass, trees, shrubs and flowering plants, noted the OPEI representative. “Have minimal hardscape, wood chips, gravel, and please avoid artificial grass, which does nothing for the environment. Live grass produces oxygen, reduces the greenhouse gas effect by absorbing carbon, and dissipates the urban heat island effect. Your lawn is nature’s air conditioner! Grass can be 31 degrees cooler than asphalt and 20 degrees cooler than bare soil thanks to the process called evapotranspiration. Also, your landscape can provide valuable habitat for birds and wildlife. Remember, nature starts at your backdoor.”

Jeff and I have never done gardening in our home but have been doing a lot of research on the types of plants we’d like to have in our yard. Although we’ve decided on the plants for our backyard oasis, we can’t seem to agree on whether or not we should add flowers to our front yard.

It turns out, your front yard is just as important as your backyard. OPEI discussed the benefits of having plants in your front yard by stating that your front yard sets a tone for guests and expresses who you are.

“One advantage to improving your living landscape in the front yard is higher curb appeal,” according to OPEI. “We know that homes with nicer yards attract higher offers when they are sold.”

And because your yard also shows what you value, said the OPEI representative, a well-maintained yard that includes plants, grass and trees appropriate for the local area, shows that you have made environmentally-conscious and smart decisions about your landscape.

OPEI added: “How you choose to water and irrigate your yard, also reflects your values and choices. Many people find that smart irrigation and careful watering work much better than old sprinkler systems. In fact, grass gets lazy if watered too much, so remember to water wisely.”

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