Are Millennials Redefining Gardening?
When we think of gardening we often think of large outdoor spaces, lawns and decking, climbers and trees, tools and equipment, patience and manual work. However, maybe it’s time we start to think of gardening a little differently. Maybe it’s time we redefine its meaning to more accurately represent the modern living and housing situation throughout the UK.
Nowadays, over 80% of the UK population are residing in cities and urban areas, with 17% living in flats. With many not having access to private outdoor space and with only 31% of houses for sale offering a garden, traditional gardening may seem unattainable and unrealistic for many. With outdoor spaces becoming smaller and rarer, people (especially a younger generation suffering an unbalanced average house price to earnings ratio of 7.77) are redefining gardening by turning to unconventional methods.
With fewer people being able to afford homes with gardens, or find job opportunities in rural areas, modern-day gardening is evolving. Instead of mowing and raking or weeding and digging, modern-day gardening is less about the outdoors and more about bringing the outside in.
With some brands already starting to cater towards this contemporary concept of gardening, we are seeing products like ‘grow your own kits’ popping up in the likes of popular retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Not On The High Street. ‘Grow your own’ kits are internal solutions to growing herbs and vegetables within your home for those without access to outdoor space or a garden.
This month we attended the Glee garden show at the NEC in Birmingham, where Paul Harris, Director of Vagepod UK, gave a talk about how urban growing is a new and current revolution amongst young people. While showcasing his ‘grow your own’ veggie patch, which self-watered, he described some of the reasons why the ‘grow your own’ revolution is becoming so desirable amongst a millennial population. Harris spoke about how portable ‘grow your own’ solutions like Vagepod’s mean renters are able to invest time and effort into ‘gardening’ without having to leave it behind when they move. With a quarter of households in the UK set to privately rent by 2021, urban gardening solutions such as these are redefining the nature of gardening due to their compact and portable nature whilst also proving to be cost and wastage efficient. ‘Grow your own’ solutions are allowing those who rent or without access to gardens to create neo-traditional gardens on balconies or even inside their own homes.
Indoor wall gardens kits are another example product supporting the shift in a gardening redefinition. Perfect for small balconies and indoor rooms, these unconventional gardens have also proven to better mental health, air quality and productivity and are therefore becoming exceedingly popular with a younger generation living and working in urban areas. These Instagram-able home additions are not only giving those without a garden the chance to create an area of nature, but also to grow and tend to something with minimal effort whilst often leading time-poor lifestyles.
Plant subscriptions companies such as Bloombox Club and Sprout London are other examples of products and services being developed as a result of the ‘gardening shift’. These postal subscription services are allowing customers to regularly and consistently introduce greenery into their homes without having access to the suitable outdoor environments to initially grow in. Whilst also creating Instagram-able interiors, these services are providing a sense of instant gratification, ideal for city dwellers with little spare time and limited outdoor space.
For many millennials and urban dwellers living in flats and in dense city landscapes, this is gardening as they know it. It’s the closest they can get to a personal allotment or private outdoor scenery. These compact interior solutions fit their lifestyle and it’s this that’s redefining gardening.
So, all this got me thinking. Despite two-thirds of the UK population still currently have access to a garden, two-thirds of the world’s population are predicted to live in cities by 2050. So, does this mean more outdoor home brands should start catering towards millennials and city dwellers in consideration of a modern-day gardening shift? Providing indoor growing solutions, subscription-based gratification and interior gardens may just be the way to engage untapped, younger customers. It equally may be the way to secure brand loyalty for later in life, when this generation is ready to move on to more traditional gardening methods when they can (finally) afford their own home with real outdoor garden space.