Future of gardening industry could depend on engaging young parents
Published: 13 February 2019 - Fiona Garcia
It is revealed that 40% of parents aren’t confident planting plants with their children, despite wanting kids to ditch technology and spend more time outside.
A survey by Cumbria garden centre, Hayes Garden World revealed that 86% of parents with children under the age of 18 would like their child to spend more time interacting with nature, with more than a quarter saying they are more interested in technology than nature.
However, a lack of gardening skills amongst parents is hindering this, as 40% explained they don’t plant plants with their children because they don’t feel confident in their abilities. This is despite almost all parents (96%) recognising the positive effect engaging with nature has on their children; also citing an improvement in creativity (89%) and benefitting a child’s mental health (78%).
Hayes Garden World believes there is a real opportunity for garden retailers to engage young parents in order to influence the behaviour of their children and fuel an interest in nature; adding that the future of the industry depends on it.
Dr Elena Touroni, consultant psychologist and clinic director of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, agrees. She said: “Parents will have the greatest influence in whether children will be particularly interested in exploring nature. Despite this, the younger they are, the more interested they are in exploring generally, so younger children will have a natural inclination to be curious and explore the outdoors. The only way this doesn’t happen is if the lifestyle/ attitude of their parents do not facilitate this behaviour. For example, if you go on walks or stay indoors with parents then they’re more likely to do this in the future.”
“Mentally exploring new environments will help children to gain self-confidence and contribute to their emotional and social wellbeing, as they will likely be playing with other children. There is a socialisation angle in that developing an appreciation for the outdoors will help children to be and live in the present moment, developing mindfulness skills and strengthening their interactions with fellow peers.”
Encouragingly, three quarters (75%) of respondents stated that their child is interested in nature but 26% also said their child was more interested in technology. It was found that the average British child spends four hours per week playing on technology (a tablet, mobile phone or computer), whereas they spend just under three hours per week playing outside in the autumn/winter period.
In the warmer months during spring and summer, children play outside almost four times this amount, averaging at nearly 12 hours per week. Hayes Garden World believes planting plants with children is a great way to get them to interact with nature but, while a number of parents have attempted this, a lack of confidence has prevented it becoming a regular activity.
Hayes Garden World head of online development Lyndan Orvis commented: “We have aimed much of our teaching and gardening clubs directly at children over the years, to try and ensure a grassroots interest in planting and gardening. However, the research shows that perhaps we should be offering more adult-focused classes to parents, as 40% of them are not confident enough to plant anything with their children. It is unlikely that parents who have little confidence in planting or gardening are likely to encourage their children to have a go.”
He added: “Gardening is a wonderful way of encouraging children to connect with the world around them. Caring for plants and wildlife can create appreciation for nature as well as an understanding of time and how the ecosystem works.”
“The future of our gardening industry could depend on us trying harder to encourage young parents to get green fingered and give gardening a go.”
Dr Elena Touroni added: “Ultimately, it is all about exposure and familiarity with being outdoors, where this can then become a preference to maintain this or not.”
To help parents encourage their children to spend more interacting with nature, Hayes Garden World has created a children & gardening knowledge hub with tips and tutorials to ensure that children engage with nature on a regular basis. The hub includes videos on exciting plants for kids to grow, tips on outdoor nature activities that can be enjoyed whatever the weather and advice from Hayes Garden World Horticulture Experts on easy gardening activities for parents and children to enjoy together.