How to Make a Smart Garden

Liven up a drab balcony or dreary home office with this delightful planter design and you’ll reap the benefits of being surrounded by beautiful plants.

| July 2019


Years ago I left a dramatic and hated job to begin a new life working out of my home office. While it might seem terrifying to some, it was a miracle for me—it allowed me to step away from the pain and drama of a closed-in, unhealthy environment and transform my office into something healthier. While I spend a lot of time writing in front of my computer inside, I have built a lovely view of the trees and sky. When I am able, I work outside on my balcony or patio—I try to surround myself with plants and life. It does more than make me happy; it helps me breathe and think. Having a close connection to plants while you are working, particularly in a home office, can mean the difference between a positive working environment and a horrid one. That’s why I planted this smart garden, and one like it can do the same for you.

Plants Sharpen Your Brain

Scientific American ran an article discussing the power of plants on the brain based on a study done by the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Researchers demonstrated that when a working office setting has plants, it boosts the office workers ability to maintain attention. Additionally, there was a study done at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, showing that students demonstrated 70 percent greater attentiveness when their class-rooms contained plants. These results are based on a specific concept: attention restoration theory. Rachel and Stephen Kaplan developed the conceptual idea for the theory, and according to attention restoration theory, people can pay attention and have a greater capacity to pay attention to work if that person has had longer exposure to plants or nature. In other words, you can pay attention more when you have an emotional or physical connection with nature.

Combine this scientific information with what we already know about plants and oxygen; that, as part of their breathing process, plants output oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide. having plants in a living wall sharpens our attention, produces fresh oxygen, and also offsets chemicals and purifies air, as demonstrated by the study done by the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) and the national Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Plants can make a positive difference for our work environments.

Working at Home

The number of telecommuters or at-home workers is increasing worldwide. According to a poll conducted by Reuters, nearly “one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle east, Latin America, and Asia, tele-commute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day.” While working conditions within an office can be high-pressure or uncomfortable, when workers are able to telecommute, they can take control of their working environment in a unique way.

At-home workers have more freedom to manage family and home because they are able to work the personal hours that make them feel better and in control. Are you a night owl? no problem; working at home enables you to pull more night hours. Are you an early bird? no problem; get up at 4:00 a.m. and jump online to send a few emails. Telecommuting and working at home is also more sustainable because telecommuting reduces carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone levels by at least 25 percent. If 40 percent of the US population would work at home half of the time, it would be like taking 9 million cars permanently off the road.

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