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The Science Is In: Plants Make Life Better

This picture of the Countryside Nursery in Aurora, Oregon doesn't just show the beauty of trees – it shows an important part of Oregon's GDP!

April is an earthy month to be sure – not only is it National Garden Month, but there's also Earth Day and Arbor Day!

Plants and trees and nature’s bounty are definitely on our minds in the spring, but the truth is that the practice of growing things is good to think about all year long. Here are a few of the ways that growing plants and having them present makes life better.

Good for Your Health

According to Michelle Ratcliffe, PhD and Farm to Family Expert, "Research shows that planting something cultivates positive youth development. There are over 20 developmental assets associated with social and emotional development cited in the literature including sense of place, patience, responsibility, self-efficacy and teamwork."

Kids aren’t the only ones who can benefit from planting things though. Indoor plants provide a cost-effective way to remove pollutants from the air and help return oxygen to it. Having them around also reduces stress, accelerates recovery from illness and promotes healing.

If you’re outside hoeing a row or doing moderate to heavy yard work, you’re also getting the benefits of a cardio workout and if you grow plants you can eat, your body will benefit from the nutrients contained within fresh produce. The only plants that aren’t so good for your health? Ones like poison ivy.

Good for the Local Economy

You might not know it, but a big chunk of Oregon’s economy relies on plants. According to the 2014 USDA Census of Horticultural Specialties, Oregon is one of the top three nursery production states in the country and is the nation’s #1 producer in several categories:

Acres in Nursery Production — #1 with 61,099 acres in nursery production, plus an additional 41,000 acres in Christmas tree production.

  • Coniferous evergreens — #1 with $129 million in sales (23% of U.S.
  • market)
  • Deciduous shade trees — #1 with $114 million in sales (20% of U.S.
  • market)
  • Deciduous flowering trees — #1 with $50 million in sales (13% of U.S.
  • market)
  • Cut Christmas trees — #1 with $127 million in sales (35% of U.S. market)

Because over 75% of Oregon’s nursery sales come from outside the state, it’s an important traded sector for the economy. According to the Oregon Employment Department, Oregon had more than 9,000 nursery and floriculture jobs in 2015 with a payroll exceeding $265 million.

Mark Bigej, COO of Al's Garden Center and President of Oregon Association of Nurseries, describes the Oregon’s unique approach and advantages: "It doesn't get any greener than Oregon's nursery industry. We are one of the best in the world. Its a perfect combination of Oregon's unique climate of cool winters and not-too-hot summers married with the passion and skill of Oregon's nursery men and women."

Good for The Planet

Planting a variety of plants in your yard helps support biodiversity and maintain the viability of ecosystems threatened by urban and suburban development. For different kinds of critters, different kinds of plants provide food and shelter.

The roots of plants support subterranean ecosystems rich in microorganisms and earthworms that produce the soil we depend on. They also filter water, which helps keep fertilizers and other chemicals out of waterways. In fact, a single large tree can capture and filter up to 36,500 gallons of water per year and a mature tree can absorb roughly 36% of the rainfall it comes in contact with.

Plants also help filter air. They catch airborne particulates and pollutants including visible smog, plus they absorb gases and odors, remove carbon dioxide and help cool the air in urban area during times of intense heat.

Whether you’re most concerned about the air, the water or the animals, planting trees, shrubs, flowers, vines, vegetables, grasses and other plants that can thrive in your particular climate is an impactful way to help take care of our natural resources.

Good for Your Pockets

No matter who you are, plants are good for your pockets.

Homeowners can see a big boost in the perceived value of their property by improving curb appeal with strategic landscaping. One study showed that for every $1 invested in plants, property values increase an average of $1.09.

Business owners can also benefit from plants. Not only are potential customers are willing to travel further to shop in retail districts containing trees, they rate stores with trees outside them more highly in visual quality and property maintenance. They also regard the product quality, product value and merchant responsiveness more favorably.

Both homeowners and businesses can benefit financially from another perk that plants provide: reduced energy costs. Trees’ shade will help buildings stay cool in the summer by reducing the reflected heat that bounces off of paved surfaces and buildings, and in the winter trees trap heat to provide insulation.

Ready to let more plants into your life? Find a Garden Center or Specialty Nursery in Oregon or if you’re not quite ready for a planting project, visit one of Oregon’s lovely public gardens.

Northwest Honda Dealers know when you plant something with your family, you give your kids two of the greatest gifts - roots and wings. Make memories that grow a lifetime. Plant flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs. Don't have space to plant? You can always grow in your window sill or vertically on a wall. And it is always worth visiting one of the many extraordinary public gardens in Oregon and Washington.

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