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Backyarding – the trend to use the backyard for everything from tele-working and working out to relaxing and recreating – has a different purpose for each of us. Identifying your backyard’s role in your family’s health and happiness is the key to cultivating a purposeful outdoor space that is customized to your needs.
“How do you a create a more purposeful outdoor space? First, you need to identify what type of ‘backyarder’ you are,” explains Kris Kiser, President & CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and the TurfMutt Foundation. “Then, you can get to work in your yard with that idea in mind.”
Here are just a few of the backyarding personality types. Which one(s) are you?
Your yard makes neighbors green with envy. You know how to maintain a healthy living landscape all year long, and you have the latest outdoor power equipment to make even big jobs easier. You put the right plant in the right place, so your green space is always thriving.
• Outdoor athlete
Forget basement workouts – you have an outdoor gym and exercise space that makes the neighborhood running club want to pit stop at your house. Your yard is the ideal place to stay active and inspire others to work out, too.
• Work From Home Pro
Your work from home means nature is your background, and there’s no lag on the living landscape. The birds, squirrels and, yes, the dog your co-workers see on conference calls are all real. All you need is strong wi-fi, your nicest sweatpants, and a jacket for chilly morning meetings, and you’re ready for work.
• Nature Lover
You know that nature starts at your own backdoor, and understand pollinator support and plant choice. You prefer to spend your free time in the urban habitat of your living landscape, watching the birds, bats, butterflies and other wildlife that count on your yard for food and shelter.
• Kid Zone Creator
You know the safest place for young kids is in your own backyard, and you work hard to create an outdoor fun zone they will never want to leave. A flat area of sturdy turfgrass to play sports and pitch a tent? Check. Treehouse? Check. Zipline strung safely between backyard trees? Check. An elevated garden where they can help grow family meals? Check. Natural playscapes, like a patch of sand bordered by rocks and log stump seating? Check. “Fun” is your middle name, and you are winning at this game.
• Pet Pamperer
Your focus is on Fido – no one knows your yard better – and you take cues from your four-legged friends about how to purpose your backyard. You’ve planted appropriate turfgrass that can stand up to pet play, and you’ve used soft foliage to create a natural barricade between “off limits” areas and the rest of the lawn. Trees and shrubs are strategically planted for shade, and you’ve even set up a shallow water feature to help your pup cool off on hot days. Planting with purpose for you means keeping toxic plants out of the picture. (For a complete list, visit ASPCA’s list of non-toxic and toxic plants.)
• Entertainer Extraordinaire
Your backyard was the neighborhood hot spot long before the pandemic made that trend posh. Family milestones, birthdays, graduations, reunions, socially distanced BBQs – your yard is *the* place to gather. Your yard is set up for success with patio furniture, fire pit, yard games, plenty of outdoor seating, string lights, and maybe even an outdoor kitchen.
• Zen Master
Your yard provides you and your family a place to be still and de-stress. Whether it’s coffee in the morning or yoga in the afternoon, You know that spending time outside is good for your health and well-being, and thanks to your yard these benefits are only steps away.
Whether you enjoy working, playing, or getting married in your own backyard, a recent survey shows more Americans than ever say that precious outdoor space is vital of late.
More than three quarters of Americans who have a yard (76%) say the family yard space is one of the most important parts of their home, according to a new poll commissioned by the TurfMutt Foundation and conducted online by The Harris Poll.
Nearly three quarters of Americans overall (72%) say a spacious yard would be at the top of their wish list if they were looking for a new home. That desire reflects a cultural shift in how Americans view their yards. Even more so, they’re willing to invest in their yards, and are using them more for everyday activities, including as work-from-home office space.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation. “They’ve discovered that ‘backyarding’ is a better way to live and there’s no turning back. They are also willing to hire professionals and invest money into yard improvements.”
People are enjoying extra time outside, too. Nearly a quarter of Americans who have a yard (24%) are spending more time in their yards now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
And they are really enjoying the extra time outside. Over 3 in 5 Americans who have a yard (63%) say they have enjoyed doing more activities in their yard since the pandemic began. Younger adults (68% age 18-54 vs. 52% age 65+) and parents of kids under 18 (73% vs. 58% who are not parents of kids under 18) are more apt to feel this way.
Who’s spending all that time outside?
• Older millennials - 32% of adults ages 35-44 who have a yard are the spending more time in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic.
• Parents - 30% of those with a yard who are parents of kids under 18 are spending more time out in their yard now compared to pre-pandemic and are more likely than those without kids under 18 to say they are doing so (21%).
How Americans use their yard has likely changed. For one, the outdoor office trend is here to stay with many Americans using their yards as makeshift offices for their jobs.
• Nearly 2 in 5 Americans who have a yard (58%) say they have spent time doing work for their job in their yard during the pandemic.
• Men are more likely to use their yards while doing work for their jobs, with 63% of men compared to 53% of women with yards saying they worked outdoors in their yard during the pandemic.
• Among those with a yard, parents of kids under 18 are also more likely (71%) than their counterparts without kids under 18 (52%) to have used the yard to get work done during the pandemic.
The yard has also become a place to de-stress, with more than two thirds of Americans who have a yard (69%) saying doing yard work, such as mowing, trimming or planting, is one of the ways they like to de-stress these days. This is especially true among parents of kids under 18 as they are more likely than their counterparts without kids under 18 to cite this (76% vs. 65%).
A vast majority of Americans who have a yard (84%) plan to invest in their yard in 2022, including:
• 67% say they’ll purchase plants/trees/flowers/vegetables to plant themselves
• 39% report they will purchase items to maintain or improve their grassy areas
• 23 % say they will install or update hardscaping themselves.
And the outlook looks bright for the landscaping industry. About a third (33%) of those with a yard plan to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping in 2022. Other yard improvements planned for 2022 include installing a fence (19%) or a shed (15%) and adding a swimming pool (10%). Among those with a yard:
• Adults ages 18-44 are more likely than those ages 45+ to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by hiring a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping, 43% compared to 26% of those age 45+.
• Nearly a third of those ages 18-44 (31%) will install or update hardscaping themselves, 27% will install a fence, 21% will install a shed and 18% plan to put in a swimming pool.
• Parents of kids under 18 (73%) are more likely than their counterparts (63%) to say they plan to invest in their yard in 2022 by purchasing plants, trees, flowers, or vegetables to plant themselves. Parents of kids under 18 are also more likely than those without kids under 18 to purchase items to maintain or improve grassy areas on the lawn (44% vs. 36%), and more likely to hire a professional to do landscaping or hardscaping (47% vs. 26%).
Given the unprecedented return to the outdoors, the available outdoor power equipment also has kept in step with products for every need and individual scenario, says the TurfMutt Foundation, and powered in a variety of ways including battery/electric, gasoline, propane, solar and hybrids.
“What we are seeing with Americans is greater reliance on the backyard as an extension of the home. It’s not just a place that looks pretty – it’s a place to live and do daily activities such as working, dining and relaxing,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the TurfMutt Foundation.
TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” TurfMutt is an official USGBC® Education Partner and part of their global LEARNING LAB. TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2017, the TurfMutt animated video series won the coveted Cynopsis Kids Imagination Award for Best Interstitial Series. TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat is featured in the 2017-2020Wildlife Habitat Council calendars. More information is available at www.TurfMutt.com.