It’s terribly British to complain about the weather; too much rain, too hot, too cold, we’re all guilty of it. However, our temperate climate with cool, wet winters and warm, damp summers, provides some of the very best growing conditions for plants.
The UK is home to some of the most glorious gardens in the world. From Kew Gardens in London to Stourhead in Wiltshire, you can journey through centuries of landscaping and admire impressive displays of topiary. Not only do we hobby garden in our own outdoor spaces, but we frequent public gardens and visit private gardens through the National Garden Scheme. As well as visiting gardens around the country, you can take advantage of a lockdown-inspired initiative and virtually visit gardens too.
It’s no secret that Brits love to garden and we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting gardening statistics, facts and figures regarding garden activities across the UK.
Approximately 87% of British homes have gardens, equalling around 23 million outdoor spaces. This isn’t spread evenly throughout the country as numbers are less in densely populated cities where flat living is more common.
1 in 8 British households has no access to a private or shared garden, rising to 1 in 5 in London. Ethnic minorities make up the majority of householders with no garden, with black people more than four times as likely as white people to have no outdoor space at home. Source: ONS
UK garden size statistics
From the long, narrow gardens that stretch out behind neat rows of Victorian terraced houses to today’s cramped new-build developments with minuscule gardens, there is a huge variation in UK garden sizes.
The median UK garden size is 188 square metres but this varies considerably depending on where in the country you live. In central London, a garden might be an average of 16 square metres whereas Scotland is home to gardens of over 700 square metres in size. Source: ONS.
If you dream of owning a home with a large outdoor space, Poole in Dorset ranks top in the UK, with an average garden size of 490 square metres. This is followed by Dundee (249sqm), Cambridge (235sqm), Slough (229sqm) and Bournemouth (215sqm). Source: Property Wire.
Brighton is bottom of the list when it comes to small gardens, with an average garden size of just 23 square metres. Source Statista.
For new housing developments, the size of the garden is determined by the local council but is generally calculated by multiplying the depth from the house to the rear boundary by the width of the garden.
How much do we spend on our gardens?
During the lockdowns of 2020, many people turned to their gardens as a place of sanctuary and took time extending their living spaces into the garden. Home offices, garden houses, gazebos, children’s play areas and outdoor kitchens grew in popularity. Many people took the opportunity to landscape their gardens and grow their own produce and once-neglected areas were given a new lease of life as staying home became the new normal.
The gardening industry boasts some incredible statistics. A whopping £18.6bn was spent on UK gardens in 2021. The average total spend per adult with a garden was £690. £241 of this was spent on renovations, closely followed by accessories (£180), tools (£140) and garden toys (109) Source: Statista.
In 2020, the average weekly household spend on garden goods, plants and tools was £2.83. This was highest in the 65-74 year age group, with an average spend of £3.80 per week and lowest in the under 30s with an average of £1.70 per week.
Types of garden
With people spending more time at home, many homes and gardens have undergone extensive makeovers in the past couple of years. Spurred on by lockdown and social media trends, having a beautiful, functional outdoor space is a big priority for many people.
Research by Foxtons found that an attractive garden can add as much as 20% to the value of a home and with over 60% of buyers requiring a garden, according to Rightmove, they’re a key element in a house sale.
There are many different types of gardens; landscaped, laid to lawn, artificially turfed or courtyard-style paved. Terraced and raised-bed style gardens are growing in popularity, particularly in new-build housing areas where gardens are often sloping or unconventionally shaped.
There are no official figures for the number of British homes that have artificial turf, but it’s estimated that 8 million square metres of fake grass are sold in the UK each year (that’s around 2000 acres). There are signs that this trend is slowing however after environmental concerns and petitions to ban the sale of artificial grass altogether.
Wild gardens are growing in popularity where people want to be surrounded by plants and wildlife and there’s a definite swing towards sustainable gardens, whether it’s using recycled products for garden paths or upcycling old greenhouses.
How many people garden?
When it comes to gardening demographics around 27 million people enjoy gardening in the UK, with 57% of gardeners being female.
How do we use our gardens?
Bringing the indoors out is a trend that looks to continue well into 2022. Outdoor kitchens have seen a huge surge in popularity, despite our often inclement weather, with integrated ovens, sinks and even fridges gracing gardens around the country.
The University of Surrey conducted a garden use and wellbeing survey during the first Covid lockdown to find out how people used their gardens. Frequent garden visits were shown to boost wellbeing, with a strong link between the amount of nature in the garden and people’s happiness.
The YouGov HTA survey found that gardens are primarily used as a place to relax, followed by growing trees and plants, feeding or watching wildlife, entertaining, growing own food, as a space for pets, for children to play and for exercise.
How old are British gardeners?
42% of people in the UK enjoy gardening in their spare time, with the over 55s (51.4%) being the most likely to garden. This is closely followed by 45-54 year-olds (41.1%), 35-44 year-olds (37.2%), 25-34 year-olds (35.2%) and lastly, and not surprisingly, 16-24 year-olds (31.2%). Source: Statista.
Time spent gardening
With the average working week totalling 36.5 hours, it’s not surprising that the over 55s are the age group most likely to garden. However, the average gardener spends 2 hours a week tending to the plants, weeding, mowing the lawn, cutting hedges and generally maintaining their outdoor space. People are less likely to spend time gardening in the cooler months, no one wants frozen fingers, so much of this gardening time will occur in the spring, summer and early autumn.
Research undertaken by BillyOh found that the average Brit spends 15 hours a year mowing the lawn, 13 hours weeding, 8 hours painting sheds and fences, 45 hours watering plants, 9 hours trimming hedges and 4 hours jetwashing patios. I’m not sure about you, but I definitely feel as though I’ve spent 13 hours weeding my garden already this year.
Most popular garden trends
Lockdown has undoubtedly had an impact on the way we use our gardens. With everyone staying home, gardeners had more time than ever to landscape, plant and tend to their outdoor patches.
A 2021 Statista garden trends survey listed the most popular garden trends as follows:
- Having a vegetable patch 28%
- Have garden gnomes (!) 15%
- Have Instagram-friendly fire pits 12%
- Have outdoor sofas 11%
- Have summer houses 11%
- Have a hot tub 5%
- Have exercise equipment 5%
- Have outdoor rugs 5%
Interestingly, people have been embracing the good life and growing their own produce ranks highly in terms of popular garden trends. I’m not sure about the gnomes, but social media trends have played a large part in our furniture choices and expenditure.
Garden crime statistics
According to the Crime Prevention website, on average, 1 in 7 gardens will experience a garden theft each year. From expensive bikes in the shed to pricey pizza ovens, ornamental fish and even prized trees, gardens can be easy pickings for opportunist thieves.
There are a few ways that you can improve security in your garden, from making sure gates are locked to installing security lights and locking away garden tools, simple actions can make a big difference.
You might not consider gardening to be a particularly risky pastime, but The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), states that around 300,000 people are hurt seriously enough in their gardens to need to go to hospital every year, 110,000 of these are children.
The most common accident to occur in a garden is a fall. People who garden are most likely to suffer cuts, followed by falls and being struck by objects. Garden machinery poses a risk, with lawnmowers unsurprisingly causing the most accidents.
As well as gardening mishaps, common muscular-skeletal injuries resulting from overdoing it in the garden include neck and back pain, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and pre-patellar bursitis.
You can help to minimise injuries by warming up before you garden, taking care not to lift more than you can manage or strain yourself by trying to pull up plants, and think about your position, if it feels awkward, it’s probably not a good idea!
Always wear gloves when gardening and, when you’re using power tools or an electric lawnmower, make sure that your power supply has a safety cutout. Try building some functional exercises like squats and push presses into your daily routine to help strengthen your body and protect yourself from injury.
The benefits of gardening
Not only does tending to the plants help to boost our overall well-being, gardening is an active pastime, burning around 300 calories per hour (the same as running or swimming for 30 minutes).
84% of British adults believe that gardening improves their overall health and well-being. Source: YouGov for HTA 2020. Being outside in the fresh air increases our exposure to the sun, helping us produce immune-boosting vitamin D. Gardening also improves cardiovascular health, increases flexibility and strength, eases stress and provides a wonderful sensory experience.
Gardening is beneficial for children too, from spending more time outside, to learning about how to grow vegetables and recognise different insects, it aids sensory development and equips them with lifelong skills. My children love planting seeds and watching the young seedlings emerge and are always so excited to pick and eat fresh produce. Nothing tastes better than fruit and vegetables you’ve grown by yourself.
It’s enormously rewarding to grow a beautiful garden and it brings so much pleasure. From watching trees and flowers bloom to growing delicious produce from seed, it’s easy to see why gardening is one of our most loved pastimes.