Springtime is the time of year when people start to head outdoors to meet in cafes, beer gardens and leisure facilities. This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has had a huge impact on people's springtime behavior. Hochschule Geisenheim University has been studying the importance of gardens and green spaces during this time, conducting a survey of 495 people at the end of May, from all population groups, proportionately according to age, gender, income and region.
How has the general life satisfaction of the participants been affected by the huge restrictions in economic, public and private life? Participants with their own garden - 53 percent of the sample - are on average more satisfied with their life. On a scale from 0 to 10, this group rated themselves 7.4, as opposed to 6.3 for people without a garden. "This difference could also be affected by the generally higher income of garden owners," noted Prof. Kai Sparke and Dr. Mira Lehberger from the Professorship for Horticultural Economics, authors of the study. "However we can recognize that current use, not only of private gardens, but also of public green spaces, has a positive influence on life satisfaction."
75 percent of garden owners say that the garden is important or very important, with over half of this group confirming that their garden is more important to them this year than last year. For people without their own garden, public green spaces fill the gap, and 60 percent say that parks or city forests are currently important or very important. Here too, over half of this group rate the importance higher this year than last year.
When asked for personal descriptions of the importance of their own garden, "freedom" is by far the most frequently mentioned term, followed by "recuperation" and "relaxation", which the other participants also chose for public green spaces. "It was therefore appropriate and important that, during the contact restriction, green spaces remained open, so that people could benefit from their positive physical and mental effects," stated Sparke und Lehberger.
On average, participants spend around ten hours per week outdoors for relaxation and sport. garden owners, though, almost double their time outdoors, counting an additional eight hours for work in their gardens, which average around 360 square meters. 75 percent of people with gardens say that the good weather in the spring was their incentive to spend time outdoors, but 58 percent cited the restrictions in other leisure activities, and 55 percent, the contact restrictions. "The private garden could thus be even more important as a future value component on the house market," speculated the Geisenheim horticultural economists.
Garden owners generally increased their time outdoors this year, expecially for working in their gardens. "This shows a certain amount of added 'Corona productivity', as well as a recuperative effect," added Sparke. " New planting, building and maintenance measures not only have an economic value but also an ecological significance, so that gardening in Corona times could also mean an increase in sustainability."
About the authors:
Prof. Kai Sparke and Dr. Mira Lehberger work in the Professorship for Horticultural Economics at Hochschule Geisenheim University and their research focuses on people's behavior in regard to gardens and garden products.
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