It seems everyone took up gardening in the last few years. I know I’ve never had more friends or family asking for advice for how to pick the fastest growing indoor plants or how to set up their very own hydroponic garden. Americans are gardening now more than ever, which is truly remarkable. It is gratifying to be able to share the joy and help others experience the sense of accomplishment that comes with harvesting their first crop of vegetables or seeing their first blooms from a plant that they grew from a tiny seed.
I love reviewing the concrete data on the level of attention we’ve been giving to the plant kingdom in 2022. Let’s take a look at some gardening statistics and explore the significant changes that have taken place since the pandemic compelled us to focus more time on our home and garden.
Table of Contents
Gardening Statistics At A Glance:
- Approximately 55% of American households garden, totaling around 71.5 million households and over 185 million people.
- Of those gardeners, 18.3 million are new to the hobby.
- Women are more likely to engage in community gardens.
- American adults spent over $47 billion on gardening supplies, with online sales doubling during the pandemic.
- Gardening is taken up by people from various income levels, with an average yearly spend of $70 to $400 per person.
Gardening Industry and the Economy:
- Over 892,400 people were employed as landscapers or groundskeepers, with the District of Columbia paying the highest median wage.
- The gardening industry is worth $47 billion per year, with potential for greater value.
- Gardening appeals to people across income levels, but industry research sometimes overlooks lower-income and minority gardeners.
- Seeds, bulbs, and live plants were in high demand during the pandemic, while hand tools and lawnmowers are common gardening equipment.
- Gen Z represents 44% of new pandemic gardeners, with a focus on indoor plants and mobile device learning.
- Millennials make up almost a third of all gardeners, with a focus on food gardening and houseplants.
- Gen X represents around 34% of new gardeners, engaging in a mix of ornamental, vegetable, and indoor gardening.
- Baby Boomers are gardening less due to age or living arrangements.
Average Size of a U.S. Garden:
- The average garden size per household is about 12 feet by 8 feet or 600 square feet.
- 91% of gardeners are homeowners.
Time Spent in Gardens:
- Most gardeners spend around 4-5 hours per week in their gardens, with a decline from the height of the pandemic.
- Tending flowers, ornamental plants, and bedded plants is the most common activity.
- Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown, followed by cucumbers and peppers.
- Container gardening increased, especially among apartment dwellers.
Indoor Plant Growth:
- At least 37.6 million U.S. homes contain indoor plants, with half of all gardeners nurturing both indoor and outdoor plants.
- In urban centers, around 11% of growers have some or all of their veggies and herbs growing indoors.
The Popularity of Gardening And The Covid-19 Pandemic
“With more time at home, people looked to their yards as extensions of their houses and safer places to gather. Plants are beautiful; lots of them smell and taste fantastic. In times of stress and uncertainty, tending the growth of something can feel productive.
And gardening is accessible. There’s no need for sprawling yards or expensive equipment; a thriving plant family can grow in raised beds, vertical pallets or terra-cotta pots.” Elizabeth Beal, North Carolina State University
There’s good reasons why the number of new gardeners shot up over the pandemic. The number of gardeners taking up the hobby has never been greater. It’s estimated that 18.3 million people took up gardening over the Pandemic.
The first cause of this is practical. Covid-19 took people out of work in record numbers and had a significant impact of on food insecurity. The United States Department of Agriculture reported in 2021 that families containing out of work adults were almost twice as likely to struggle with grocery bills. The result? They turn to the backyard garden and start growing their own food. Even apartment dwellers turned to growing vegetables and herbs in pots or containers. Even a modest yield from the average garden makes a huge difference if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
We also simply had a lot more time to spend at home. Travel restrictions kept people at home. With less to occupy us many decided to engage in gardening activities that they may have lacked time for in the past. Work from home exploded, with as many as half of all employed people working from home between April and December 2020. We were all simply home more often and had more time to dedicate to our garden space. Lawn and garden supplies suddenly became a hot commodity, and indoor plant stockists struggled to keep up with demand. After all, if you’re stuck in an office all day it pays to make it a beautiful place to be.
The effects of gardening participation on body and mind
There’s surprising benefits to all this extra time spent in the garden.
There’s no doubt that time in the garden has real, measurable benefits. Scientists have found that gardening reduces anxiety and helps prevent and soothe dementia. It promotes a sense of well being that translates to better mental health.
It’s also great for us physically. Most gardening tasks are gentle but repetitive and provide excellent exercise for all ages. Even the microbes in the soil are known to help the brain release feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. There’s also evidence to suggest it can help improve recovery after surgery too.
Other research shows that indoor gardeners don’t miss out. Just being in the same space as living green plants eases physical and mental distress. Studies have demonstrated also that simple garden tasks create a powerful sense of accomplishment that boosts creativity and productivity. And indoor plants scrub the air and help us breathe easier too.
Gardening Statistics: Who are Axiom and the National Gardening Survey?
If you’re running a business supplying gardening goods, it pays to know your customers! Across the gardening industry folks turn to market research to find out what’s going on across gardening in the United States.
Some of these researchers are industry bodies. The National Gardening Association releases a National Gardening Survey each year that’s chock full of great gardening insights that makes for very interesting reading. Other information within the industry includes research by Scotts Miracle-gro. Organizations like Garden Center magazine also conducts their own research each year. These industry statistics help sellers pick the right products for their customers.
Others sources are more impartial. Axiom Marketing conducts many different surveys across a number of industries. And as far as impartial sources go it’s hard to go past the US Census Departments regular releases about the state of the material and garden retail sector.
It’s heavy going and often for industry eyes only. But I’ve had a look at taken out the most interesting statistics in the US to share.
How Many Households or People garden?
Those industry reports show that around 55% of American households garden. That’s about 71.5 million households, or over 185 million people well over half of the country. Of those gardeners 18.3 million are brand new to the hobby.
Statistics show that the gardening population is thickest below the Mason Dixon, with a third of gardeners in the South.
Home Gardeners By Gender
- 52% of men nationally garden as a hobby
- 47% of women garden
- Women are most likely to engage in community gardens.
- Men who took up gardening in 2020 were most likely to continue gardening in 2021 and beyond
- Most gardeners are married, with 71% or so sharing their garden with a spouse.
- Urban women report the greatest uptick in relaxation and stress relief as a result of gardening
How much is spent on gardening and houseplants in the United States?
American adults spent over $47 billion dollars on gardening supplies. Since 2019 online sales doubled over the Pandemic. Unsurprisingly physical stores sell building material and garden retail in shops only saw a modest increase of 9% more sales.
Gardening as a hobby is taken up by people from a wide range of incomes. The average amount varies a bit depending on how you count it. Spread out to every participant, gardening households spent $70 or so per person per year. But once you correct for big spenders and penny pinchers the amount spent per person is closer to $400, give or take. Other figures put it at a more modest yearly spend of $125, down from a 2020 high of $155.
Information about Gardening Industry and the Economy
Gardeners And Employment Statistics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics over 892 400 people were employed as landscapers or groundskeepers. The District of Columbia paid its landscapers the best, as their gardeners earn a median wage around $ 22.49 an hour, or $ 46 780 a year.
Other people working in the industry sold goods in independent garden centers, plant shops or seed stores. There were 67 000 working in the industry in this way.
This doesn’t include those raising seedlings or garden plants. The BLS counts them with farm workers along side those growing food crops. It also doesn’t include “off the books” employment that can be as benign as getting a teenager to mow your lawn. The real number of people employed to work in gardening is likely much higher than the official numbers.
How big is the market for gardening?
The industry is currently worth $47 billion dollars a year. But there’s a lot of folks being ignored in those numbers, so it’s likely to be worth much more in practice.
Across the board Americans are spending more at their local gardening supply store or online. But it’s a welcoming and accessible hobby and as many lower income people participate as rich ones. This doesn’t always shows up when market research firms or fertilizer companies organize the research. So we see a lot of research that suggests white, high income men make up the bulk of home gardeners.
Once you start looking at other sources, like social scientists, the picture starts to change. Their research suggests that a lot of people are gardening in ways that don’t always show up to big industry research bodies. For example, lower income people are more likely to work in community gardens than people making a lot of money. Women of color make up the bulk of community gardeners and reap the rewards of low cost foods.
What Equipment do Gardeners Own?
The big seller over the Pandemic years has been seeds, bulbs and live plants. After all, you only need to buy equipment once but seeds must be purchased each year. Some sellers struggled to keep up with demand.
Small scale gardeners tend to stick to hand tools like shovels, rakes and trowels. Homeowners with larger patches usually have some kind of lawn mower, weed trimmer or the like.
Gardener Demographics: What Age Groups are Driving Gardening Trends?
The year of your birth and the people that share it are what social scientists and marketing experts call your demographic. The differences that show between the different age groups in 2019 and 2022 gardening statistics are really revealing.
Gen Z are completely bonkers for indoor plants. They represent a substantial 44% of the new pandemic gardeners. They soak up gardening tips from social media or garden websites and extensively document their journeys. A quarter exclusively use their mobile devices to learn how to grow.
Millennials got the plant craze rolling with a fondness for succulents and cacti long before the world changed. They make up almost a third of all gardeners. They have a big focus on food gardening, as well as other consumable herbs that are only legal in certain jurisdictions. They also notoriously love houseplants, with 70% of Millennials considering themselves ‘plant parents’.
Interestingly while Millennials took to gardening in droves they are also most likely to leave the hobby. Over half may not grow again now that pandemic restrictions are easing and the day to day grind of the average household returns to normal
Gen X are maturing and settling down and it shows in their gardening. This grungy gang is close to their Millennial kin at around 34% of new gardeners. These mature adults are growing an even mix of ornamental plants like flowers, veggie patches and indoor plants.
You may be surprised that the aging Baby Boomers are gardening less than they were a few years ago. They’re actually down around 10% or so, depending on the source. While we might see gardening as a hobby for the older set, there’s good reasons why they’re slowing down.
Many are aging out of the hobby and are no longer physically able. Others are opting for streamlined apartments or other living arrangements that don’t really have the space for a huge garden.
What is the Average size of a U.S garden?
91% of gardeners are homeowners . This gives them a lot more space to work with. Peek over the average fence and you’ll find a garden 12 feet by 8 feet square or thereabouts per household.
Average is a funny word – half of gardens are bigger than average, with many substantially so. If you even out all the land used for gardening and share the land equally that results in an average garden is 600 square feet or so.
How Much Time Do Gardeners Spend in Their Vegetable Gardens or Yards?
The larger the garden the more time spent. Most gardeners are spending around 4-5 hours a week in their plot. That’s actually down from the height of the pandemic when folks had up to 2 hours a day to spend outside. Tending flowers, ornamental plants and bedded plants is the most common activity, followed by vegetable gardening.
What kind of vegetables do American gardeners grow?
Americans love growing veggies! Veggie patches are common and container gardening increased as apartment dwellers turned more time at home into unprecedented bounty.
The humble tomato is the most popular vegetable grown by gardeners in the United States. It’s a great option because it’s not a lot of input for some very delectable results. It can be found in 86% of home vegetable gardens. Cucumbers and peppers were also popular.
How Many American Gardeners are Growing Indoor plants?
It’s estimated that at least 37.6 million U.S. homes contain at least one indoor plant. It’s one of the easiest and most accessible forms of growing so it’s no surprise half of all gardeners nurture both indoors and out.
Folks growing food indoors changes a lot depending on where you are. In urban centers like New York many gardeners just lack the space to spread out. Upwards of 11% of growers in these areas have some or all of their veggies and herbs growing indoors.
I’ve often struggled to find a silver lining in the chaos of the last few years. The increase in popularity of gardening is one of the clearest ones. The fact that I’ve found that over half of all American households are spending time in the garden is one of them. Planting seeds and nurturing them is a hopeful act. It’s heartening to go into 2023 with so many fellow gardeners embracing that hope.