Could gardening improve YOUR home and lifestyle? Here's some news & research which has previously appeared in Get Results Gardening. Judge for yourself!
Nature So Hot
Every year the Garden Media Group analyse broader societal and fashion trends to predict what might be ahead for the gardening world.
Last year's overarching theme was "Nature's Rx for Mental Wellness" (if they were correct, you should be seeing those trends now). They have recently released their predictions for 2019 under the banner "Rooted Together - Reconnecting with the Natural World", suggesting nature isn't going out of style.
The group predicts a reawakening of concern for the environment on both a global and personal level that will see more people using gardening to address issues like climate change and loss of biodiversity.
There'll also be a greater appreciation of what being in touch with nature can do for personal wellbeing as people start swapping screen time for green time.
This goes beyond the tradition garden. It may be manifested as indoor gardening or volunteering for public garden projects and environmental initiatives.
This also goes hand-in-hand with interest in recycling and Earth-friendly consumer products, including garden products. Insect habitats and native plants will be popular.
Technology will nevertheless a part in this "new environmentalism", with apps, sensors and robotic devices removing some of the labour and guesswork, particularly in larger landscapes and production environments.
Meanwhile, bluish-green mint tones are predicted to be the next big colour trend for plants and accessories along with pale-coloured flowers for night gardens.
Garden Media Group: www.gardenmediagroup.com
Recently released results of a psychological study suggest greener neighborhoods may improve children's brains.
11-year-olds living in urban areas of England were assessed. Even after allowing for socio-economic factors associated with neighbourhoods, more greenspace was correlated with better spatial working memory.
This cognitive function records and processes information about an individual's surroundings and is related to attention control. It's also correlated with academic achievement.
While this study couldn't prove that the environment directly caused the better memory performance, it points the way to further research and another possible benefit of more parks and gardens in cities.
U.S. Millennials Grow Into Gardening
America's annual National Gardening Survey (produced by market research company Garden Research) explores consumer activity and trends for the nation's lawn and garden industry.
The latest report reveals that in 2017, more American households were gardening than ever before, thanks to an increase participation by the under 35 age group.
Said an analyst, "It's a strong sign that they are finally 'in' ".
Across the whole lawn and garden market, retails sales achieved record levels both in total and in average spend per household. The latter increased massively, jumping nearly US$100 to US$503.
Trends include containers and raised beds, indoor plants, employing landscapers instead of DIY and purchasing gardening information in digital form instead of printed books and magazines.
Questions on cannabis were included in the 2018 survey for the first time. 15% of households said they would grow it themselves if it were legal to do so.
Greening the Mind
Greening vacant land in blighted cities could make a significant, yet low-cost contribution to a population's mental health.
Status of participants living near vacant lots in Philadelphia, USA were recorded before and after the lots received different levels of rehabilitation.
People living within a quarter-mile radius of greened spaces averaged a 41.5% reduction in feelings of depression compared to those near lots that remained abandoned. The effect was most pronounced in neighbourhoods below the poverty line.
A basic clean-up of trash without addition of grass and trees had no effect.
Read More: Effect of Greening Vacant Land on Mental Health of Community-Dwelling Adults JAMA Network Open
After commissioning a study into Australian homebuyers' current preferences, garden products company Yates report that desire for outdoor spaces is bigger than conventional real estate wisdom would have us believe.
They say that overall, 39% prioritise these spaces (which include balconies, decks and courtyards), compared to only 12% being most concerned with kitchens.
However, the potential to use outdoor areas for entertaining is important, especially for younger buyers.
16% of all buyers on average are looking for a backyard above all else. There are considerable statewide differences, with South Australians (30%) valuing backyards the most.
The need for "street appeal" also varies, with 9% of Queenslanders considering it the most important factor compared to 15% of Victorians.
Full results of the study don't appear to be publicly available, but you can read more coverage from Yates Australia , Your Investment Property and
Gardens and Health
❏ International Society of Arboriculture, January 2015: Global research suggests forests and green spaces have a positive effect on people's health
An overview of research and the types of collaborations tree experts are involved in with the goal of better public health.
❏ HortTechnology December 2016: Exploring the Benefits of School Gardening for Children in Taiwan and Identifying the Factors Influencing these Benefits
This study identified seven benefits that school gardening children can give children, including an improvement in life skills, relationships and health.
❏ HortTechnology, December 2016: The Influence of Gardening Activities on Self-reported Health Problems, Allergies, and Body Mass Index (Abstract)
Gardening did not affect the incidence of allergies. There were no difference between gardeners and nongardeners in BMI, but gardeners reported more issues like high cholesterol and gallstones. Researchers suggest they may be using gardening as a form of "distraction therapy".
The Profit Motive
You've probably heard it said that good landscaping can help sell your home, and even get you a better price.
It's certainly a widespread belief among renovators and real estate agents, but considering the diverse factors involved in any one property sale, it's a difficult thing to measure accurately in real life.
Nevertheless, there are occasional attempts to apply testing and statistics to investigate this issue. Sometimes the landscaping of individual properties is studied, sometimes wider neighborhood effects.
A number of such studies are covered in the links below. These are drawn from all over the world and some of them are now quite dated. The extent to which comparisons with local markets can be made are therefore arguable, but property bugs may like to investigate these further.
Given the unavoidable limitations of this kind of research, we should probably avoid drawing definite conclusions from such studies. Differing tastes and market conditions specific to Australia may further reduce applicability here.
Compared to the USA, there isn't a lot of high-quality Australian information readily available online, unfortunately.
Nevertheless, here are a few studies from our continent that have some relevance.
A recent study that was actually conducted in Southeast Queensland is worth a closer look by all homeowners in the region.
For residents of increasingly dense suburbs, the road verge may be the only opportunity for enjoyment (if only "borrowed") of a moderately large tree in the vicinity of their home.
While footpath trees are mostly out of their control, homeowners can nevertheless encourage and support local authorities to plant suitable trees in their neighborhoods and maintain them properly.
Street trees could deliver in terms of property values, too. This has been shown in various American studies (see here and here), but one recently conducted in Brisbane has also indicated a connection.
The study was conducted by Lyndal Plant, University of Queensland. An article by the Nursery & Garden Industry Association summarising the results is available here (PDF download).
Besides estimates of house sale price differentials, there are interesting insights into which factors (e.g. species, age and diversity of trees present) were the most significant. If you're short of time, go straight to page three!
For more details, see Property value returns on investment in street trees: a business case for collaborative investment in Brisbane, Australia. (PDF)
Disclaimer: None of the above constitutes financial advice!