Among other things, 2020 was a year of discovery. The shelter-in-place orders, combined with the social distancing measures put in place in every state, pushed people to find new ways to spend their time. One such activity is gardening, a hobby that became more popular at the beginning of the pandemic, and it looks like it will continue to be.

A StorageCafe survey revealed not only that people devoted more time to growing a garden during the lockdown period but that many of them plan on maintaining this hobby after the end of the restrictions. The data gathered revealed that 17% of the respondents wish to enjoy gardening post-pandemic, a 2% rise compared to the 15% engaging in this activity while bunkered at home.

The same data set revealed which are the US states where gardening is a preferred pastime, both during and after the lockdown. However, what makes a state well prepared to accommodate its new-found horticulturists?

In addition to the need for suitable land, the act of growing plants or vegetables requires tools, and gardeners need a place to keep them — and maybe also to store the harvest until they’re ready to consume it. Renting a storage unit provides gardeners with the extra space they need. We did further research into the self storage market’s dynamism and the cost of renting a storage unit in order to offer a more in-depth overview of how ready US states are to accommodate gardeners.

Swift changes in popularity of gardening during and after lockdown

The data revealed that the interest shown towards gardening is non-linear, producing significant changes in the rankings when it comes to the most popular states: Some respondents anticipated a loss of interest, while others predicted a increase.

California, Florida and New York were the states where people exercised their green thumb the most during the pandemic restrictions. However, only the respondents from Florida expected a boost in their interest after the lifting of the lockdown. California fell five positions and New York one. Other states with dramatic drops were Maryland (down 5 places) and Illinois (down 4 places).

On the opposite side of the coin, respondents from four other states planned to dedicate more time to gardening after the end of the shelter-in-place orders. Ohio rose six positions, followed closely by Texas, which improved its rankings by five places. North Carolina and Pennsylvania experienced a boost in interest, too, each climbing three positions.

1. Florida

The Sunshine State is the most enthusiastic among those looking to turn gardening into a long-term endeavor. No less than 19% of the survey respondents from Florida plan to have this activity as a hobby in the future, compared to the 16% engaged in it during the lockdown period. The state’s climate is suitable for year-round growing, making things more rewarding for those wishing to plant their own veggies.

Storing tools without cluttering up space at home is also easy since the state has a strong self storage market. No less than ten metros were ranked among the top 100 most active markets for self storage in 2019. People living around Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Cape Coral, Jacksonville, Lakeland, North Port, Naples, Palm Bay and Panama City have no problem finding storage solutions. The monthly cost of renting a unit ranges between $92 in Panama City and $124 in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area.

2. Texas

The second-best ranked state for gardeners is Texas, as data revealed a significant surge in the interest shown towards gardening after lockdown compared to during it. With 19% of the respondents planning on growing a garden, the Lone Star State is likely to see more people getting their hands muddy after all the restrictions are lifted. For comparison, only 12% engaged in this activity during the lockdown.

Texan gardeners can rest easy when it comes to finding a place to store their shovels, too. The metropolitan areas surrounding Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock, Amarillo, El Paso and Brownsville are on the rise in terms of available storage units, offering attractive options to those looking for extra storage space. As for prices, storage units start at $73 in Amarillo and go up to $94 in Austin and San Antonio. Amarillo and El Paso are also ranked among the cheapest metros for self-storage, offering some of the most competitive rates in the whole country.

3. Ohio

Gardening is also an attractive hobby for the citizens of The Buckeye State. Ohio respondents anticipated a rise in their interest in this activity post lockdown. 17% of them are planning to grow a garden after the restrictions are lifted completely, compared to the 11% doing so while they were in place. Unlike Florida and Texas, Ohio only has three growing seasons, as the winters are too harsh to allow many types of gardening.

Looking for a storage unit to house necessary equipment until spring returns is relatively straightforward for those living in or around Cincinnati, Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo and Columbus. These markets are actively investing in new construction. Toledo is also ranked among the nation’s cheapest metros for self-storage, with the average rent costing $73. On the other hand, Cleveland boasts the highest prices in the state at $92.

4. New York

The state demonstrating the fourth-highest level of interest is New York. Residents were keen during the quarantine, with 15% of the survey respondents taking up this activity, and gardening is set to remain a priority after things return to normal for 17% of the people questioned. Those who want to hone their horticultural skills must plan things carefully, as the state has a slightly shorter growing season than many.

In terms of available storage space, three markets from The Empire State are ranked among the most active ones, namely New York-Newark-Jersey City, Albany-Schenectady-Troy, and Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls. However, New York City stands out as the metro with the most significant new storage construction in the entire country. Those looking for a self-storage unit to keep their gardening tools protected and their harvest fresh have to pay between $99 in Albany and $165 in New York City.

5. North Carolina

No less than 17% of the respondents in The Old North State consider that gardening will be an attractive way to fill their time after the lockdown. This number in an increase from 12% gardening while sheltering in place, demonstrating an increased interest in this activity. North Carolina, featuring three growing seasons, offers an encouraging environment for those looking to plant herbs or veggies.

Finding a self storage unit for keeping tools without cluttering the home is easy too, as the state is well-provisioned from a storage perspective. Six metros are experiencing a boost in new construction, namely Charlotte, Greensboro, Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Raleigh and Durham. The cost of renting a unit ranges from $78 in Myrtle Beach to $93 in Virginia Beach. Myrtle Beach is also one of the cheapest markets for self-storage nationwide.

6. California

California is the first state in our top 10 to experience a drop in the respondents’ desire to continue gardening following the lockdown. Even so, The Golden State is the sixth-most popular when it comes to the percentage of respondents planning to work the soil. 17% of them got engaged in this activity at the beginning of the pandemic, and 15% of them want to turn it into a long-term habit. The opportunities for year-round gardening make things more rewarding, which might incentivize people to invest more in the hobby.

Finding a place to store tools shouldn’t be an issue and the availability of storage is increasing. The state has eight metros highly active in terms of new storage facility completions: Los Angeles, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco and Madera. As for the pricing of a self-storage unit, rent starts at $89 in Madera and goes as high as $186 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area.

7. Pennsylvania

Respondents from the Keystone State indicated a boost in their intention to continue gardening post lockdown. 11% took up this hobby during the early months of the pandemic, and 14% plan to set time aside for the activity in the long run. Two to three gardening seasons, depending on location, make Pennsylvania convenient for those looking to plant veggies or herbs.

Planters, shovels, watering cans and all the other tools can be stored safely in a self-storage unit off-season. The state has four markets rated among the top 100 most active ones. People living in Pike County, which is included in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, along with those living around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, and Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, can take their pick from a range of newly finished units. In terms of price, rental rates range from $86 in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metro to $165 in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area.

8. Arizona

Arizona respondents are consistent in their desire to devote time to gardening. 13% of the respondents were interested in this activity both during and after the end of the shelter-in-place orders. The Grand Canyon State has a harsh climate that allows for only two gardening seasons, leading to an increased need for additional storage space in between seasons.

Only one market is listed among those leading new construction in 2019. Still, it’s the second most active market in the entire country. Americans living in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area benefit from over 2.3 million square feet of new storage space available for rent. Combine those with the 1.1 million square feet built in 2018 and the 1.3 million square footage delivered in 2017, and the options are bountiful. The average cost of renting a storage unit remains the same as in 2019, $103.

9. Maryland

Maryland is another state to experience a decrease in the interest shown towards gardening during and after the lockdown while remaining among those where the hobby is most popular. 14% of the survey respondents revealed they engaged in gardening and houseplant care while bunkered at home, while only 11% plan to continue this activity. Three growing seasons offer favorable conditions for those looking to master the intricacies of plant care, and the storage market is on the rise in three of the Old Line State’s main metros.

Residents of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, together with those living around Baltimore-Columbia-Towson and the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area, benefit from plenty of newly constructed storage spaces. Renting a unit costs $116 around Camden, $121 near Baltimore, and $135 in the Arlington area.

10. Illinois

The last state in our list of those where gardening is most popular is Illinois. While respondents forecasted a decrease in interest following the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions, keeping a garden remains an attractive activity. 11% of those answering the survey plan to set time aside for this activity, decreasing from the 14% who exercised their horticultural skills during the lockdown. The growing season in the Prairie State varies considerable from north to south, but there are many rewards on offer for anyone with a green thumb.

The most active Illinois market in terms of new storage construction is the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area. Another dynamic region is the one surrounding St. Louis, which crosses the borders of Missouri to extend into the Land of Lincoln. Renting a storage unit costs between $89 in the St. Louis metro and $96 around Chicago.

Gardener attending to plants
StorageCafe data reveals that Americans spend an average of 88 minutes each day gardening. The dynamic storage market in each of the states brings an extra degree of comfort in their lives, as gardening gear from shovels to bags of fertilizer take up space, space that can be otherwise saved by investing in a self storage unit. The only question that remains is how many of the respondents wishing to grow a garden after all the restrictions are lifted follow up on their plans.

gardening tools

  • This research was conducted by StorageCafe, an online listings portal dedicated to the self storage sector. StorageCafe currently features nearly 25,000 self storage facilities – or 300,000 units – all across the U.S.
  • This report’s data is drawn from a StorageCafe survey conducted between May 14 and May 25, 2020, on the and websites, sister divisions of StorageCafe. A total of 1,060 people aged 18 and over took the survey.
  • Market data is drawn from StorageCafe research that analyzed 383 U.S. metropolitan areas in terms of rentable square footage delivered in 2019. That research was based on data about more than 28,000 facilities available in Yardi Matrix out of an estimated stock of over 50,000 at a national level.

About the author: With a background in communication studies, Teodora Demian began writing for the StorageCafe team eager to uncover the secrets of real estate. She has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Public Relations and Advertising. She is a passionate writer, researcher, and marketing specialist.


Francis Chantree is a writer and editor for Yardi, focusing on real estate and lifestyle content. He is a former programmer and researcher who exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he can be found gardening and reading.

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