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Over the Garden Fence

Gardening grew in 2020

Everyone recognizes that 2020 has been quite a unique year. Travel has been limited or off the table, school or work may have been moved to home, and since spring, holidays have been celebrated in different ways. One big stress reliever in all of this may just have been the backyard garden and the home landscape.

A recent “Gardening Insights” marketing survey bears out what Extension has seen this entire growing season – a whole bunch of us got into (or more into) gardening in 2020. And, it looks like that trend may continue into 2021.

According to the survey, gardeners spent 42 percent more time gardening in 2020, with only 9 percent claiming less time to garden. Part of this renewed interest in gardening also is due to time at home. With more people working from home and without a commute, the time could be invested in the yard or garden.

Who is gardening?

One great finding was that younger gardeners really embraced growing in their yards this year and plan to continue in 2021. In fact, 71.72 percent of respondents ages 19 to 28 said they spent more time gardening in 2020, and the age group 29 to 39 reported a 75.84 percent increase.

Where are gardens?

Not surprising, where there is land, there is more gardening going on. Just a little over 90 percent answering the survey came from single family homes. The remainder came from condominiums (5.2%) apartments (2.73%) and even renters took some of the action (0.87%).

What is being grown?

When asked about types of gardening, growing flowers was the most popular activity with 72.86 percent of respondents. Which makes sense – if you are going to be spending more time at home and in the yard, you want it to look good! More than half of the respondents checked that they grew vegetables, and about one in three did container gardening. It is easy to reason this one out too. It likely is due to concerns of food safety or shopping, availability of favorite vegetables, or the desire to grow vegetables naturally or organically.

Why was gardening chosen?

The top reason was “a beautiful outdoor space,” with the choices of “like growing things,” “enjoy my own vegetables and fruit,” and “something to do” all being popular as well.

So how did these 2020 gardeners do? About 82 percent felt successful in their gardening efforts. The remaining 18 percent felt they should have been more successful. This could be because some may have been first-time gardeners, or others may have taken on the challenge of a new type of gardening or a new crop.

What is expected for 2021?

More good news is that 86 percent plan to garden the same amount or more in 2021, and another nearly 10 percent are considering it. Remember those younger gardeners? They are among the largest groups planning to return in 2021, with 94 percent of both age groups 19-28 and 29-39.

What resources were tapped?

When it came to where gardeners got their gardening information, the survey asked for their top three apps. The answers were diverse, with no single app getting even 10 percent. However, Facebook and Google reached 9.4 percent and 8.9 percent, respectfully. The remaining apps all were less than 5 percent, with a high of 4 percent for YouTube and a low of 0.3 percent. Sadly, University resources did not even make the list, though they likely were in those web searches and social media hits.

If you plan to vegetable garden in 2021, winter is a good time to start planning. Here are a few University of Illinois Extension horticulture resources that may help:

About the author: Richard Hentschel’s expertise extends across several subject areas with specialties in lawn care, fruit tree production, woody ornamentals, and home and community gardening. During his 45-year career in horticulture and agriculture, Hentschel became a well-known and respected expert for commercial and homeowner audiences, industry organizations, and media. He retired from University of Illinois Extension in April 2022 with nearly 30 years of service as a Horticulture Specialist and Educator in northern Illinois.