Nursery industry shifts as fewer U.S. households plant gardens

Nursery industry shifts as fewer U.S. households plant gardens

EUGENE, Ore. - Busy lifestyles full of digital distractions lived in giant homes on smaller lots: those are just some of the reasons gardening is in a slump nationwide.

According to a survey conducted last fall by the Garden Writers Association, over the past 3 years the number of households engaged in vegetable and fruit growing has held at a constant 53 to 54 percent of households with a yard or garden.

The number of U.S. households reporting they have either a lawn or garden "decreased from the historic 74 percent to 52 percent of the population," according to the study. The study did not say over how long a time period the percentage dropped.

Gina Gartley, marketing manager at Johnson Bros. Nursery in Coburg, said busy lifestyles are part of it, and the recession hurt overall gardening.

But she said the bigger reason Americans are gardening less is the trend of putting bigger homes on smaller lots, leaving no room for gardens.

The garden industry is shifting tactics to market toward that population, promoting container gardening, thornless raspberry bushes in pots that don't get bigger than 3 feet high, mini-blue berry bushes and color bowls of flowers people can take care of on their patios or apartment balconies.