Approximately 55% of American households engage in some type of gardening, including food gardens and ornamental gardens. Around 35% of American households grow their own food, including fruits and vegetables.
During the pandemic, gardening in the United States increased for a variety of reasons. By some estimates, as many as 42% of Americans increased their gardening activities during the pandemic years.
Read on for more information about trends in gardening in the U.S.
Gardening is a Hobby on the Rise
People started gardening more during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. In many cases, people had more time at home to spend in the garden due to the lack of a commute, job loss, or fewer available social activities.
According to some studies, the main reasons people started gardening during the pandemic was to improve mental health (reported by 49% of gardeners) or to have a safe family activity (35% of gardeners).
Others started gardening as a way to save money and ensure their own food supply when supply chain issues and job loss were threatening food security.
Whatever the reason, gardening has taken off as an American activity. Some estimate that online garden spending doubled during the pandemic.
More than half of gardeners reported that they hoped to keep up their level of gardening even when the pandemic has ended.
Demographics of American Gardeners
The largest increase in gardening activity was among millennials, who increased spending on gardening activities by around 65% during the pandemic. Millennials make up for around 29% of gardeners and that percentage seems to be increasing.
Gen Z also increased its participation in gardening activities by a significant amount.
Gardening spending rates for older generations increased as well, but not as steeply as for the younger generations.
By some estimates, there were 18.3 million new gardeners in 2021.
The benefits of community gardens were made clear during the pandemic as well. Many urban dwellers who do not have space to garden at their home rely on urban gardens as places to engage in gardening activities.
During the pandemic, urban gardens worked hard to make gardening a safe outdoor activity to bring the community together and increase the mental health of participants.
In addition, community gardens grow healthy food for their neighborhoods. It has been shown that adults who garden consume more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t.
Similar data shows that children who participate in gardening activities are more willing to try fruits and vegetables at home.
Benefits of Gardening
Did you know that gardening makes you happier? Gardening has been shown to contribute to a variety of positive health outcomes, including reducing stress and anxiety, increasing life satisfaction, improving heart health, and increasing vitality.
There could be a variety of factors that make gardening such a healthy activity, including the physical exertion involved, the exposure to sunlight, and the sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency when growing your own food.
There are financial benefits as well. By some estimates, American vegetable gardens may yield several hundred thousands of dollars of vegetables on average. Gardening is a fairly inexpensive activity after you have purchased the initial equipment, making it a good way for families to save money.
In addition, many gardeners report that they like being in control of what they eat. Gardening for yourself means you know exactly what you are getting and how it has been grown and treated. Many gardeners report that fresh produce from your own garden tastes better.
Undoubtedly there is an environmental benefit as well. Growing your own garden means less transportation of food. Studies have also reported an increase in composting activity among American gardeners, as more and more gardeners see the benefits of adding household compost.
How to Grow a Garden
Studies report that approximately 20% of Americans were planning to grow a garden during the pandemic. If you are in that group–planning to grow a garden but not yet started–here are some tips.
You don’t have to grow an epic garden from the outset. You may start with just a few pots on your deck or windowsill. Start with an herb garden and get used to keeping track of watering and sunlight (and then enjoy the benefits of your labors!).
If you want to garden outdoors, start with one small patch or one raised bed and see how it goes.
Choose Appropriate Plants
The most common vegetables grown in U.S. vegetable gardens in recent years are tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers. You can find starter plants of these at garden stores or gardening centers.
Make sure you choose plants that are appropriate for the amount of sunlight your garden receives.
You can also start with flowers if you want, just to get accustomed to the practice of gardening.
Use Good Soil
If you are using pots, make sure you buy fresh potting soil and start with that every time. You can mix compost into the soil if you have compost available.
If you live in a city with contaminated dirt, you may want to consider using a raised garden bed with fresh dirt that you purchase, rather than growing vegetables in contaminated dirt. This does not matter with ornamental gardens, though you may want to add fertilizer or compost to give the plants as many nutrients as possible.
Learn how to Water
If you are growing in pots, make sure they have good drainage so the roots don’t sit in too much water. If the soil is dry around an inch down, that would be the time to water.
If your plants are looking wilted or dry, that would also be a good time to water. You will get the hang of it if you watch your plants for signs they need water but don’t over water them.
Since the pandemic, gardening has certainly been on the rise as an activity in the U.S. Most gardeners intend to continue their participation in gardening into the future, though it is impossible to tell whether the increase in gardening is here to stay.
With increased concern about the environment, the need for good mental health, and the threat of inflation, gardening may continue to be an enjoyable and profitable activity for years to come.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.