Environmental Horticulture in Colorado
Homeowner gardening activities combined with professional landscape management contributes significantly to the economy of Colorado. According to a study conducted by Colorado State University (Thilmany et al., 2008; http://www.greenco.org/downloadables/GreenCO-ExecSumFinal08.pdf), entitled “The Economic Contribution of Colorado’s Green Industry: A 2008 Update”, Colorado household and business expenditures on garden, landscape and lawn products and services (including linkage industries such as irrigation systems, botanical gardens, lawn and garden equipment and maintenance services) have averaged almost 10% annual growth since 1993, for a 2007 total of $1.8 billion. The $1.8 billion directly contributed to the Colorado economy increases to $3.3 billion when its impact on broader economic activity and employment generation in the Colorado economy is considered. The authors also found that, in 2007, the green industry provided Coloradoans with over 35,000 jobs, an increase of 12,000 jobs since 1994 (tripling in size in less than 15 years), with $1.2 billion in payroll (up $750 million from 1994). The average green industry wage earned in 2007 increased to an average of $35,318 annually, up from $26,159 in 2001. It appears that the green industry has made an almost complete recovery from the drought restrictions and economic downturn in the early 2000s, but it is not yet clear how the industry will weather the current housing downturn. Colorado ranks 22nd of 50 states in its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (Hodges et al., 2011).
The quality of a landscape design and maintenance is a major factor in the home and property values. The average household in Colorado spends over $1,000 annually on landscape care and gardening supplies: (http://www.greenco.org/images/downloadables/GreenCO-ExecSumFinal08.pdf ). Landscaping yields an average of a 109% return on every dollar spent, much more so than other home improvements. (http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu/emphasis-areas/marketing-economics/economic-benefits-of-plants/).
CSU Extension in El Paso County offers education and services to homeowners and gardeners in the following areas: sustainable amenity landscaping, home food production, diagnostic services, and volunteer engagement. Environmental issues that are addressed include:
- Water smart gardening
- Firewise landscaping
- Rain water harvesting
- Home food production
- Gardening for health