Earth Day

— Written By and last updated by

April 22 was Earth Day, and was a great opportunity to remind us that plants are good for the Earth, and good for us. Plants benefit society in many ways.

Horticulture positively affects people’s lives where they live, work, shop and play, according to a new report from the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH). Consumer and society engagement through plants permeates all aspects of our lives:

Where We Live:

  • A 25-foot tree reduces annual heating and cooling costs for typical homes by 8-12%
  • ¼ of American homes grow berries, veggies, or fruit trees
  • Our homes represent 25% of our personal wealth. Well landscaped homes are more valuable.
  • Improvements to your landscape pays off! The return on investment for landscape upgrades is 109%

Where We Work:

  • Green roofs provide beauty and moderate rooftop temperatures, reducing heat loads and lowering energy costs.
  • Plants in the workplace reduce employee sick time by 14% and improve work productivity and speed.
  • Upkeep and preservation of urban green habitats creates new jobs, boots local economies, and adds to community prosperity.
  • Horticulture creates 2 million jobs across a diverse array of businesses.

Where We Shop

  • Stores with landscaped areas have expanded sales resulting from longer shopping occasions and can charge more due to higher perceived quality.

Where We Play

  • America’s public gardens are key tourist destinations and contribute $2.3 billion in community tourism spending.
  • Did you know that more people in the U.S. visit gardens each year than visit Disneyland and Disney World combined? Garden tourism encompasses not only visits to botanical gardens but also arboreta, historic estates, zoological gardens, city parks, flower shows, garden centers and increasingly tours of private home gardens as well.
  • There are 4 million miles of US roadways. Street trees preserve paved surfaces. Shaded roads save up to 60% of repaving costs. Trees also improve driver safety and result in few traffic accidents.
  • Trails and greenways increase property values and make adjacent homes sell faster.
  • Parks provide cities and citizens significant value. For example, in Philadelphia, parks generate $23 million in city revenue, $16 million is municipal cost savings and $1.1 billion in cost savings for citizens.
    • Interested in visiting a park or garden near you? NC has quite a few extraordinary sites. Try:
  • San-Lee Park is a 177+ acre park, located at 572 Pumping Station Road, that offers hiking trails, a mountain bike trail, a Nature Center, playground, picnic facilities, campgrounds and two stocked lakes for fishing. Paddle boat rentals are available seasonally. Approximately 4 miles of hiking trails offer a true nature experience at San-Lee Park. The trails wind along the two lakes and through the woods, offering great fishing spots, access to an array of wildflowers, and many great views. The Nature Trails are open year round during park operational hours at no cost. During April the park is open Monday-Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., then from May-August the hours are Monday-Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Sandhills Horticultural Gardens. These are gardens and natural areas located on the campus of Sandhills Community College at 555 Lindbergh Pl, Pinehurst, NC 28374 They are open to the public daily without charge.
  • The JC Raulston Arboretum is a nationally acclaimed garden with one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants adapted for landscape use in the Southeast. Plants especially adapted to Piedmont North Carolina conditions are collected and evaluated in an effort to find superior plants for use in southern landscapes. The arboretum is located at 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC 27606-1446 in west Raleigh near the NC State Fairgrounds, 2 miles west of the NC State University’s main campus. It is directly across the street from Capitol City Lumber Company.
  • Cape Fear Botanical Garden Cape Fear Botanical Garden is a nonprofit botanical garden located at 536 North Eastern Boulevard, Fayetteville, NC 28301. It is open to the public daily; an admission fee is charged.
  • The North Carolina Botanical Garden is a botanical garden operated by the UNC at Chapel Hill. It is a “conservation garden” with a mission to inspire understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants and to advance a sustainable relationship between people and nature. The primary goal of the Garden is to research, catalog, and promote the native plant species of North Carolina. The garden is located at 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517. Admission is free to the public.
  • Sarah P. Duke Gardens has 55 acres of specialized gardens in the heart of Duke University, with a host of educational programming for all ages. Admission is free, but there is a fee for parking. The garden is open from 8 a.m. to dusk 365 days a year. The  address is 420 Anderson St., Durham, NC, 27708.

Minda Daughtry is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.