Gardening has received a major boost from the COVID-19 pandemic •

The green industry has seen a surge in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as people have turned to gardening and landscaping during quarantine. A new study of the University of Georgia shows that if nurseries and greenhouses don’t continue to thrive as they did in 2020, some people who have taken up gardening will continue to grow plants as a lifelong hobby.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many consumers and businesses do business. Regarding green industry, many households have started gardening and/or have purchased more green industry products. As the pandemic winds down and households begin to return to normal, green industry companies need to understand this new normal,” the study authors explained.

“Using a national online household survey, we assessed which households were most likely to stay in the market after entering the height of the pandemic.”

Among more than 4,200 survey respondents, around one in three people started gardening in 2020 because they were more at home. Many of these individuals have also installed new lawns or undertaken other outdoor renovation and landscaping projects.

“You had low interest rates, so you had a lot of people refinancing, which gave them money to invest in their homes,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Benjamin Campbell. “You had people at home who were looking for something to do, alone or with their children. This has led to a huge demand for plants.

Almost half of respondents said they would not plan to garden in the future, even if they had done so in 2020. In contrast, one in ten participants who gardened in 2020 said they planned to continue.

The survey results suggest that millennials and younger people were more likely to have started gardening during the pandemic, but also more likely to report that they would not continue gardening when states return to normal.

“We’ve seen a lot of younger consumers coming into the market because of the pandemic and because they had to stay home,” Professor Campbell said. “Plants have been shown to help with many different things related to people’s psyches. Gardening has not only given people something to do, but it has also given them a little more happiness.

The results of the analysis show that food insecurity has motivated some people to take up gardening so that they can grow their own food. Many study participants said they planned to garden in the future because they were concerned about food shortages.

The study is published in the journal HortTechnology.

By Chrissy Sexon, Personal editor

Terri S. Tomasini