National Gardening Association conducted its first Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey in 2004. Concerns about global warming, climate change, our carbon footprint, and all things ″green″ have continued to increase since then. Our newly released 2011 Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey includes updated research on attitudes about the importance of maintaining lawns and landscapes in an environmentally friendly way, opinions about how environmentally friendly current lawn and landscape practices are, how knowledgeable homeowners are about how to maintain their lawns and landscapes in an environmentally friendly way, and new research about the market for chemical and organic fertilizers and insect and weed controls.
Clearly the concept of using environmentally friendly gardening practice is important to many. 79 percent of all U.S. households said that it was important to them that residential, commercial, and municipal lawns and landscapes be maintained in an environmentally friendly way. This was, however, a drop from the 89 percent who felt this way three years prior, in 2008.
But a disconnect comes when the numbers of people actually using environmentally friendly gardening practices is tallied. In both 2011 and 2008, only 3 percent of all households said they were extremely knowledgeable about how to maintain their home lawns and landscapes in an environmentally friendly way, and 11 percent said they were very knowledgeable. In 2011, 62 percent of all households said they were somewhat, not very, or not at all knowledgeable about how to maintain the lawn and landscape at their home in an environmentally friendly way, compared to 70 percent in 2008. A representative sample of U.S. households that have a lawn or landscape to maintain were provided with a list of 12 lawn, garden, and landscape practices and asked to check which practices they plan to follow at home this year. While they were not labeled specifically as being ″environmentally friendly,″ all of the practices are recommended methods for creating and maintaining an environmentally friendly lawn and landscape. In 2011, only 2 out of 12 practices were planned to be followed by more than 50 percent of households. Why don't more people use environmentally friendly natural or organic gardening methods? The top reason given, by 33 percent, was simply that they had never thought about gardening this way. Others thought these methods were too expensive (28 percent); not effective enough (12 percent); too much work (11 percent); or too time consuming (9 percent).
It's clear that changes are needed on a number of environmental fronts to reduce the impact of the way we live, including the practices people use to maintain their home lawns and landscapes. NGA's view is that good environmental stewardship begins at home. That's where individuals can have a direct impact. People tell us that environmentally friendly lawns and landscapes are important to them. To help them put these values into practice, NGA is committed to providing gardeners with the practical, ″doable″ information they need to grow and maintain successful gardens and landscapes that enhance and protect the environment. With our comprehensive information about environmentally friendly lawn and landscape practices available in our email newsletters, Website content and school curriculums, our goal is to increase the number of gardeners who are cultivating both plants and a concern for our natural world.