God has a green thumb. Planting flowers and vegetables is more than a spring ritual — gardening benefits the planet and your soul in several important ways.

Gardening benefits more than the appearance of your yard.

Some people love planting gardens and flower beds; others tolerate it as an annual rite of spring. But love it or hate it, gardening benefits more than the appearance of your backyard.

Believe it or not, gardening was once considered to be a patriotic duty.

During WWI and WWII, citizens of the U.S. and other countries were encouraged to grow gardens to assist with food production. These residential food plots came to be known as “victory gardens.”

By 1943, there were 18 million victory gardens in the U.S. and they were credited with helping the Allied Forces win the war.

Residential gardening benefits the earth.

We all have a part to play in caring for creation. Although most of us want to get involved, we struggle to find ways to make a meaningful difference when it comes to problems like climate change.

Obviously, your little tomato garden won’t save the planet by itself. But it’s a step in the right direction because there are several ways that gardening benefits the earth:

1. Cleaner air.

Plants are nature’s air filters. In addition to absorbing CO2, the vegetables and flowers you plant in your home gardens filter air pollutants and inject fresh, clean air into the world.

2. Reduced erosion.

Plants and mulch reduce wind and water erosion by holding soil in place. Erosion pumps sediment into storm drains and streams.  And sediment contains bacteria and other substances that can kill aquatic life, raise water temperatures and damage water quality.

3. Lower energy use.

The right environmental landscaping strategy can reduce the amount of energy it takes to heat and cool your house. According to some estimates, intentional landscaping and a well-positioned tree can reduce home energy costs for heating and cooling by as much as 25 percent.

4. More sustainable food production.

One of the most important gardening benefits relates to sustainability. Organic vegetable gardens are sustainable food systems because they are healthy for your body, society and the planet. Every food item you grow takes money away from industrial food systems that prioritize profit over God’s creation and your physical health.

Gardening benefits your soul, too.

The book of Genesis proves that God has a green thumb.

But whether you have a green thumb or not, gardening benefits your soul and helps you live a more intentional spiritual lifestyle. Here’s how …

5. Less stress.

Gardening is a proven stress reliever. In fact, research shows that gardening is more effective in reducing stress than reading and other leisure activities.

6. Closer relationship with creation.

Most of us work in jobs that limit our exposure to nature. Gardening benefits our souls by calling us away from our cubicles and electronic screens to get our hands dirty and experience direct contact with God’s creation.

7. Greater simplicity.

The most important way gardening benefits your soul is that it forces you to step away from your hectic schedule and experience a slower pace of life. Very few things compare to the elegant simplicity of planting a seed or seedling and nurturing it to full maturity.

Gardening is an opportunity to connect with the vibrancy and beauty of God’s creation. It’s good for the planet and good for your pocketbook.

But even more importantly, it’s good for your soul.