Polling Americans on their Outdoor Spaces This Summer
During the absolute year that was 2020, most of us became excruciatingly familiar with three things in particular: pajamas, video-conferencing, and the inside of our own homes. Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or a single-family home, chances are you spent much more time there—both indoors and out—than expected when 2020 began.
That got us thinking: How has the pandemic changed Americans' relationship with the great outdoors? Has an unprecedented amount of time pent up inside made us more interested in what nature has to offer?
To find out the answers to these questions and more, we surveyed over 900 people from across America, including at least 30 respondents per state.
We asked how the pandemic changed their perceptions of the outdoors and how likely they are to create or improve an outdoor living space this spring. We also asked respondents why they might want such a space, which outdoor elements are most important, and, of course, how plants play a role.
Read on to see what we found!
Growing Closer to the Outdoors
While not exactly solitary confinement, last year's pandemic-related precautions were enough to make most of us go stir-crazy from lazing around our homes. So much so, that Americans began to seek refuge outside.
According to our survey, 62% of Americans say they spend more time outside on their own property as a direct result of the pandemic. Considering the surge in frequency of safer, socially-distanced outdoor hangouts over the past year, this isn't surprising. And despite relaxing restrictions, outdoor gatherings remain the hangout of choice this spring. As proof, a whopping 3 in 4 respondents plan to host outdoor gatherings in 2021 the same amount or more than in 2020.
But Americans aren't satisfied inviting guests to just any backyard bash. We discovered that 72% would rather invest in their home than spend money on lavish vacations this summer. Putting their money where their mouths are, 44% will spend between $101 and $1,000 to spruce up their outdoor living spaces. Another 1 in 4 will spend between $1,001 and $5,000 crafting truly enchanting outdoor experiences.
Why? They probably stopped to smell their roses—or lack-thereof—and realized that a beautiful backyard retreat is one kind of paradise that doesn't require airline miles or a rental car. But where are people most excited about having a personal backyard oasis?
When asked to rate how likely they are to create or update their outdoor living space on a scale from 1 to 5, the national average response was 3.2—ranslating to a positive sentiment overall. Of course, some states were more enthused than others.
The top states for improving outdoor spaces include Maine (3.75), Mississippi (3.75), and Alaska (3.74), while Kentucky (2.44), Delaware (2.58), and Georgia (2.6) held up the rear as the states least likely to improve their outdoor living spaces.
A Look at Outdoor Spaces in 2021
According to our results, the most common locale for outdoor living spaces is the backyard, where privacy and space are most likely to abound. Front yards take a close second, however, winning over 1 in 4 respondents. About one third of respondents prefer transitional spaces between the indoors and out—like a balcony (23%), deck (7%), or porch (5%).
We also found that community type played into the location of respondents' outdoor spaces. Suburbanites were more likely to use their backyard (47%) than urbanites or ruralites, while urbanites were more likely to use their balcony (26%) than those in other community types.
Barbecuing, entertaining friends, and summer fun are the top three uses for an outdoor living space—an indication that Americans are desperate to spend time with other human beings again. It follows that the top outdoor renovations are putting in a pool (16%) and installing an outdoor grill/kitchen (13%). Hopefully, we'll all get invited to neighborhood pool parties and cookouts this summer!
Whatever the reason for having outdoor spaces, 23% of respondents agreed that living decor such as flowers, plants, and greenery are the most important outdoor features. So, we wanted to know more about how Americans plan to use plants in their outdoor spaces this spring!
Americans are going all out with colorful blooms, as nearly half of respondents plan to incorporate them into their green spaces. There's also strong interest in edible plants, with 16% of respondents pledging to plant tasty fruits and veggies. There's just something about harvesting your own crops that makes a space feel more rejuvenating!
While 32% of respondents will use plant life as an emerald canvas for decor and another 30% are after dazzling pops of color, plants can serve other more practical purposes. We found that 1 in 4 are picking plants that offer the most privacy. A smaller group of 9% look to flora that provide the most shade for a much-needed respite from the sun.
If you're wondering how much work it might take to craft a space like this, we have the answer for that, too! Americans expect to spend two to three days per week in the garden, with 22% of respondents choosing each frequency. But the way we see it, more gardening equals more fun, so we fully understand the 5% who plan to spend every single day tending to their gardens this spring.
Gardening brings so much vibrance and life to any outdoor space, whether it's just a few potted plants on an apartment balcony or a lush field of botanicals in a rural dreamscape. And it's clear that we all need some fresh air and leafy escapes after the year it's been
Maybe it's time you put down your smartphone, pick up some gardening supplies, and plant something nice in your garden this spring!