University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

News Article


By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Did you know that gardening is the number one hobby in America? About 70 million households participate in some type of gardening activity each year from raising vegetables to lawn care or planting flower beds or boxes.

In 1999 the American Nursery and Landscape Association (formerly the American Association of Nurserymen) and P.K. Data, a marketing research and strategic development firm in Georgia, surveyed more than 1,600 households to come up with a profile of the American gardener. Their findings, which will be of particular interest to garden centers, commercial landscapers, and nurseries, were released Sept. 1 as part of the 2000 Grapevine Survey.

Here's what they discovered.

Homeowners are more likely to garden than people who don't own their own home. With 65 percent of the population owning homes (source: National Association of Home Builders), no wonder gardening is surging in popularity! Homeowners spend an average of 8.5 hours each month on lawn care and gardening during summer months, the peak gardening time.

Gardening is especially popular with Baby Boomers although it's gaining interest with Generation X-ers who buy their first homes. Roughly 40 percent of all gardeners have some college education. About 13 percent hold advanced degrees.

Of those people surveyed, 70 percent said that they gardened because they enjoy the outdoors. About 68 percent said it provided good exercise, and 66 percent gardened for relaxation.

Lawn care ranked first in time spent on gardening activities. Annuals and perennials were perceived to be more popular than vegetable gardening. More than 60 percent of the respondents indicated that they planned to start and complete a gardening or landscaping project this year. As a matter of fact, gardeners will carry out more gardening projects in the year 2000 than they will home improvement projects.

The survey also asked about shopping habits of gardeners. While many said that the Internet was a great source of gardening information, the majority felt that despite the convenience of shopping on-line that it was no substitute for visiting a garden center.

They ranked quality of live plants as one of the most important characteristics of a local garden center. Knowledgeable employees and availability of unique items also were important to consumers.

Although many people shop for plants and garden accessories at the "big-box retailers," some felt that these stores are overwhelming, especially when shopping for only a few items. Thus, independent garden centers are regaining popularity for a number of reasons, including the accessibility and navigability of these smaller stores.

Emphasis on the home (and gardening or landscaping) will continue to increase as the population ages over the next 25 years. The home and yard will not only become a sanctuary, but a place to express individuality and interests.

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