A National Gardening Survey revealed that 71 percent of all U.S. households (an estimated 82 million) participated in one or more types of lawn and garden activities in 2007. The most popular lawn and garden activities in 2007 included lawn care (48% of households), growing indoor houseplants (31% of households), flower gardening (30% of households), and landscaping (27% of households). Retail sales of lawn and garden products to consumers totaled $35.102 billion in 2007.
Interestingly, the number of households that hire professional lawn and landscape services has increased from 22 percent of households, or 23.8 million households, in 2001 to 30 percent of households, or 34.5 million households, in 2006. The amount of money spent on lawn and landscape services has increased from $24.5 billion in 2001 to $44.7 billion in 2006.
Commenting on this trend, the National Gardening Association President Mike Metallo says, “The increased use of lawn and landscape services over the past five years reflects the fact that homeowners appreciate the many benefits of a well-designed and maintained home lawn and landscape but may not have the time or inclination to do this work for themselves.” (GardenResearch.com)
These results indicate a couple things. First, as a nation we invest a lot of time, money and effort into the quality of our lawn and gardens — billions of dollars worth! Secondly, a growing number of us want the appearance of a well nurtured lawn or garden, but we don’t want to take the time and effort to do it ourselves.
(Hmmm. Is there a similar tendency with our spiritual lives? We all want to have a strong, vital faith but we just aren’t willing to invest the time and effort it takes to clear weeds, prepare the soil, plant and fertilize our souls?)
I find this outsourcing trend sad for a couple of reasons. First, its one more symptom of a society living at an unhealthy pace, too busy even to spend a couple hours on a Saturday whistling in the garden or walking behind a mower taking in the smell of fresh cut grass at sunset. Fresh air does a person good, and too many people are already spending too many hours a week indoors staring at a computer or tv screen.
Secondly, and more to the point of this series, we were made from the outdoors and for the outdoors. Playing in the dirt helps us tap into something much deeper about who we are and why we were placed on this earth. So, let’s get our hands dirty and do some soul gardening together.
“I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down” (Proverbs 24:30-31).