NEW YORK — While officials spent the last year telling people to stay indoors, it appears the outdoors may have saved America’s sanity. A new study finds three-quarters of American homeowners say their outdoor space was crucial to their mental health during COVID-19.
The poll of 2,000 homeowners with some sort of outdoor space analyzed how people have been finding solace during the pandemic. Results show respondents are spending 14 hours a week outside – an increase of three hours over pre-pandemic days. Seventy-three percent of homeowners said spending more time outdoors has been therapeutic for them. Seven in 10 added improving their spaces has become a new hobby of theirs.
Americans are kicking their outdoor spaces up a notch
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of lawn care company TruGreen, researchers reveal half of the poll have invested in new plants and garden updates, as well as new outdoor seating over the past year. Sixty-nine percent also agree that the exterior of a home has become more important due to COVID.
From these items to lawn maintenance products, equipment, and professional maintenance, respondents have spent an average of $1,910.99 on their outdoor spaces during the pandemic. Specifically, the average homeowner has invested $414.67 on new outdoor furniture and $377.49 on outdoor entertaining equipment like barbeque grills. Four in 10 have also purchased a fire pit or outdoor fireplace and new lawn care products.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents even purchased a playground for their children and 19 percent have invested in a new pool. Just over six in 10 respondents admit they’ve been “keeping up with the Joneses;” using their neighbor’s outdoor space as inspiration for their own.
The survey also finds 61 percent of homeowners said the pandemic has brought their neighborhoods closer together. All of these updates seem to have paid off for over half the poll, as 55 percent said they feel like they have the best space on their block.
“After a year indoors, there appears to be newfound appreciation for what the outdoors can offer, with 67 percent of respondents agreeing that they used to take their outdoor space for granted,” says Marc Mayer, TruGreen’s Director of Technical Operations, in a statement. “But this past year has also challenged Americans to creatively utilize their outdoor spaces as a little reprieve from the indoors, while also staying safe through proper social distancing measures.”
Having an escape is critical during uncertain times
Half of the respondents shared they’ve hosted socially distanced get-togethers with friends and family during COVID. Another 47 percent said their kids have maintained a sense of normalcy by still having a place for recess time while remote learning.
Forty-six percent of the survey have also frequently stepped outside to find some peace and quiet for themselves. In particular, respondents are using the great outdoors as a home gym (43%), an office (31%), and even a pop-up movie theater (20%).
One respondent shared they hosted a small wedding ceremony for their neighbor. Another has turned their yard into a driving range to work on their golf swing. Other homeowners tell researchers they’ve been sitting outdoors in a rocking chair to decompress after long days, reading a good book, and even taking time to watch deer and other wildlife pass by. With these new memories and activities, it’s no wonder 57 percent of respondents agreed they plan to use their outdoor space even more once the pandemic ends.
“Though the pandemic is still at play, Americans plan to make even more use of their outdoor space as temperatures continue to warm, and summer right around the corner – with 69 percent of respondents in agreement,” Mayer adds. “But with summer fun and warm weather come pests. Ants and mosquitoes ranked as some of the top pain points that respondents anticipate facing this year. Instead of stressing over annoying pests, using a professional can help take things off your plate so that you can truly enjoy your outdoor space to the fullest.”