Consumer trends are shaping up to be incredibly positive for the green industry. At the same time, the dynamic characteristics of today’s gardeners are creating both tremendous challenges and opportunities for the business ready to meet them where they’re at.

According to the 2016 Garden Trends Report by Garden Media Group, millions of people are, and as the title of the report goes, “Syncing with Nature.” People want to reconnect with Mother Nature while utilizing their connection to the cyber world to enhance, personalize and share the experience. The young and the not-so-young are together embracing technology and nature in their own ways.

We know time is money, but did you know time is also becoming an endangered resource? Today, people have a desire to get as much out of life as they can. They want to earn more, have more, see more, learn more, and do more. We can’t control our time on Earth and priorities are changing. How work is defined is changing. All of this is ultimately causing more and more people to view gardening as a chore, yet feelings towards nature is different. Hiking is fun. Keeping my yard beautiful is not.

Here are some things to pay attention to heading into spring 2016:

Landscape investing

  • Investing in landscaping can return between 100 and 1,000 percent of the investment in added value to a property. From small to extremely large investments, it’s always a good idea to make a home look inviting and ensure curb appeal when selling. The landscaping industry is growing with the housing market in North America and more people understand (with the help of HGTV) that it’s worth it to landscape.

The outdoors is great once again

  • People have a desire to get outside and be with nature. This goes for hiking, camping, running, etc. – and gardening. People understand that we won’t live as long if we ONLY watch Netflix in our free time. We can achieve balance by getting outside, breathing fresh air, and enjoying the great outdoors.
  • The new living room is the outdoor space. Landscapers see higher investments in personalized outdoor rooms that facilitate both entertaining and relaxing with the family. This space is a reflection of personal style, as well as an extension of the interior design.

Plants improve our lives

  • Gardening benefits our health, both physically and mentally. Plants can help hospital patients recover and heal. Digging in soil can boost our immune system and gardening can relieve stress better than reading and other relaxing leisure activities.
  • People care more about where their food comes from and what the ingredients are compared to previous years. This growing trend is generating interest in cooking, enjoying very high quality food, and growing food at home. Edible gardening is increasingly popular, especially with the infamous 19-35 year old Millennials.

Sustainability

  • Global warming is an accepted phenomenon by many in 2016. There’s a realization that we need to be part of the solution. For gardening, this means installing drip irrigation, capturing rain water, mulching, and designing for water efficiency. Xeriscaping is a sustainable design trend for water conservation landscaping.
  • Technology aids sustainability as well. Skydrop is an automatically controlled sprinkler system manager that uses hyper-local weather data from the cloud to determine how much and when to water the lawn or garden for maximum efficiency.

Function and purpose

  • The hottest trend in plants right now is supporting the endangered honey bee and pollinator populations. People are asking garden centers which plants will help the cause so they can participate and feel good about their purchase.
  • Many plant purchasers look for their plant to provide more than beauty for a month or two each year. Can I eat it? Does it provide food for bees and butterflies? Is this plant native to my area? These are common questions entry level gardeners are asking before they choose their plants.

Everyone has a smartphone

  • Rather than spend countless hours learning how to care for our plants, we have a device at the ready to connect us with our networks and resources. Social networks like GrowIt! and Plants Map further hone in on the connected gardener and plant lover.
  • Don’t forget the boomers, because they spend the most on technology and are all over social media. They know how to take a great photo (with their phone) and post it to their favorite social network. They’re also gardeners that spend a lot to support our industry.
  • Plant brands and garden retailers are taking their messaging where the consumers are, which is online, on their phones. Engagement is happening on social channels. Consumers are sharing their plants and gardens with their networks and asking their sources for advice. The smartphone is everything today.

Plants to match

  • If you pay attention to new plant characteristics, you’ll notice that the majority of releases offer more than unique beauty. Heat and drought tolerance, cold-hardiness, disease resistance, longer lasting blooms, compact size, re-blooming flowers, self-cleaning flowers, and earlier blooming traits will appear again and again. The goal is less maintenance and greater ease of success for the modern plant buyer, who sees plant care as a barrier to success.
  • Value is the name of the game. The average garden center customer simply doesn’t know much about gardening, but understands the value of a beautiful yard. Plants that meet this desire plus the other criteria mentioned above will bring the most value this year.

Happy growing,

Kevin

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