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Gardening got a major boost from the COVID-19 pandemic

The green industry experienced a spike in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people turned to gardening and landscaping during quarantine. A new study from the University of Georgia shows that while plant nurseries and greenhouses may not continue to boom as they did in 2020, some people who took up gardening will continue to raise plants as a lifelong hobby. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way many consumers and businesses transacted business. Concerning the green industry, many households began gardening and/or purchased more green industry products. As the pandemic ends and households begin to return to normal, green industry firms need to understand this new normal,” explained the study authors. 

“Using an online national survey of households, we assessed which households were more likely to remain in the market after entering during the height of the pandemic.”

Among more than 4,200 survey respondents, about one out of every three people began gardening in 2020 because they were home more. Many of these individuals also put in new grass lawns or tackled other outdoor renovations 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 study lead author Professor Benjamin Campbell. “You had people at home looking for something to do, whether by themselves or with their kids. That led to a huge demand for plants.”

Nearly half of the respondents said they did not plan to garden in the future, even if they had in 2020. On the other hand, one in ten participants who had gardened in 2020 said they planned to keep it up going forward.

The survey results suggest that millennials and younger individuals were more likely to have started gardening during the pandemic, yet also more likely to report that they would not continue to garden as states returned to normal.

“We saw a lot of younger consumers come into the market because of the pandemic and because they were having to stay home,” said Professor Campbell. “Plants have been shown to help with a lot of different things related to people’s psyche. Gardening not only gave people something to do, but it also gave them a little bit more happiness.”

The results of the analysis show that food insecurity motivated some people to pick up gardening so they could grow their own food. Many of the 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 Sexton, Staff Writer

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