Home Gardening Sets Records in 2005
by Press Release
April 16, 2006

Record numbers of Americans participated in lawn and garden activities last year, according to National Gardening Association's recently released 2005 National Gardening Survey.

Published by the National Gardening Association (NGA), the largest non-profit organization of home, school and community gardeners in the United States, the survey found that 83%, or 91 million U.S. households, "participated in one or more types of do-it yourself indoor and outdoor lawn and garden activities in 2005."

"This sets a new record," says Bruce Butterfield, who as Research Director at the NGA, has been following gardening trends since 1978. Butterfield says this is a record for both the largest number and the greatest percentage of households participating.

"This was an 11 percent increase from the 82 million people who planted a flower or mowed the grass in 2004," he explains, saying this was also the biggest single-year increase seen in the past five years.

According to the NGA report, this increased participation in gardening is attributed in part to strong sales of new and existing homes the last few years.

Susan McCoy, owner of the Garden Media Group, a Philadelphia-based marketing firm that follows home garden trends as well, says she is not surprised to see such a dramatic increase in gardening, and cites other forces at work.

"More and more people are striving to live healthy lifestyles, and part of that new standard of living is enjoying the outdoors as much as possible," she says. "Gardening is no longer just a hobby. It rapidly is becoming an integral part of our lifestyle."

Today's homeowners are realizing they can extend their "living space" by adding on a deck or a patio at a fraction of the cost of adding on to their existing homes or moving. "People are buying new homes and spending their discretionary income on outdoor projects, not bonus rooms," McCoy says.

Interestingly enough, this may be affecting gardening in other areas. The study reports that total lawn and garden retail sales for do-it-yourself home garden projects saw a slight decline in 2005. L&G sales totaled $35.2 billion in 2005, which was 4% less than it was in 2004 when consumers spent $36.8 billion.

Butterfield explains that this is partially due to the influx of new gardeners last year. "We have seen that new lawn and garden participants tend to spend far less the first year than they do in the later years as their interest level and expertise increases."

However, even though do-it-yourself spending as a whole was down 4%, the study reports that nine out of 16 categories in the lawn and garden industries were up, including:

  • Lawn care retail sales increased 9%, from $8.887 billion to $9.657
  • Flower gardening retail sales were up 10%, from $2.735 billion to $3.003 billion
  • Vegetable gardening sales were up 9%, from $1.058 billion in 2004 to $1.154 in 2005
  • Container gardening sales increased 8%, from $1.116 billion in 2004 to $1.295 billion last year,

Additionally, Butterfield says more opportunities are available than ever before for people to do some form of outdoor project other than traditional gardening activities. These may include building a deck, adding an outdoor kitchen or installing dramatic landscape lighting.

McCoy agrees. "It's not just about gardening anymore, and it certainly is not about the old Latin names of plants. This outdoor living trend is turning everyday homeowners into exterior decorators," says McCoy, who admits she is one of 'them.'

Consumers are truly "decorating" their outdoor space just as they would their indoor space.

They are purchasing new outdoor high-end fabrics that they're matching up with the latest "brand name" flowers and plants. They're using lovely exterior lighting that looks just like fine table lamps, cozy couches that double as beds, and beautiful containers brimming with colorful plants, adding spots of color throughout the yard.

What this means is that outdoor living enthusiasts are doing many creative and innovative things with their outdoor spaces, not just the traditional lawn and garden care of year's past.

"If we can take our 'living' outside today, we do," says McCoy. "Our backyards now serve as playgrounds, family rooms, home offices and havens from our busy lives."

The comprehensive 200-page survey of consumer gardening practices, trends and product sales in the U.S. represents the 35th year the NGA, in association with Harris Interactive, has provided market research information for the lawn, garden and nursery industries. Sixteen specific market segments, ranging from lawn care to water gardening, are included in the 2005 report.

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