Summer vacation is a tradition honored just about everywhere in the world, and most readers will agree that we’re all the better for it. Even the most diligent among us understand that the value of taking our eyes off the books for a couple of months, which gives us time to reconnect with our families, spend time with our friends, and for millions of children around the world — play outside.

Many of us have been led to believe that summer vacation originates with kids needing time off to help their parents till the fields at a time when society was far more agrarian. This is patently false. Education wasn’t always mandatory, and children living in more urban or affluent areas would not show up during the hotter months of the year. When schooling became more standardized in America and around the world in the 19th century, the practice just stuck.

But enjoying the summer isn’t just for children. Americans of every age make a tradition out of taking time off — and spending time outside to enjoy the warmer weather. And while traveling is certainly a staple, Americans are also known to have plenty of fun right where we live. And that’s what we’re studying today.

This research takes a close look at America’s outdoor habits. We’re talking about pool parties, lemonade stands, and old fashioned cookouts. Is America having as much fun outside as it used to? Are ambitious children still making a quick dollar by selling refreshing beverages to their neighbors?

The data we found is pretty surprising. Let’s take a look.

Pricey Plants

Before we look at America’s outdoor habits, we focus on how homeowners are tending to their property. Having a neatly-kept lawn can make or break a household (more on that later), so professional help has become a pretty common expense.

Our research shows that Nevada, Missouri, California, Connecticut, and Colorado spend the most on landscaping on average per year. With 80 million Americans owning lawns on average, it is considered the most irrigated “crop” in the country.

Wet and Wild

For many of us, it’s hard to imagine our childhood without a summer pool party. And while you could call the pool party an American tradition, it’s easy to understand that parts of the country are better locations than others — or so you would think.

Conventional wisdom may have us believe that places like California or Florida would be the pool party capitols of America. Our research shows that neither the Golden State nor the Sunshine State are in the top five. Unsurprisingly, Hawaii makes the list, but Kentucky and South Carolina tied for first place.

But, there is hope for Florida and California — both of which have been known for throwing the best (and largest) pool parties in the world, according to several entertainment journalists.

Childhood Play

Children have a lot of free time on their hands during the summer months — for obvious reasons. And with temperatures higher pretty much everywhere, there is a pretty dire need to cool down during the day. This is probably why a substantial majority of children — over 67 percent — take time to play with sprinklers, according to our research.

Our data further shows that children are taking advantage of the time off, with only just over 10 percent starting their own lemonade stands. This isn’t to say that it’s total anarchy out there — most parents are supervising their children when they go swimming. This is objectively a good thing, considering that drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death in children aged between 1 and four years old.

Taste the Meat, Not the Heat

Grilling out is without a doubt an American tradition as time-honored as apple pie and baseball. The diction can vary depending on which part of the country you’re in, with the word “barbeque” carrying a decidedly different meaning in places like New York than it does in places like North Carolina.

But, the grilling menu isn’t the only thing that changes depending on where you are. As it turns out, the method for preparing the food changes as well. As you can see from this graph, preferences for charcoal or propane are pretty regional. 

Lawn Gnomes

For some of us, they’re adorable and endearing. For the rest of us, they’re a bit creepy. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that garden gnomes add a unique character to a lawn. And, they’ve been around for a while. The decoration originated with German cultures as far back as the 1600s and often depicted spiritual or religious imagery.

Today, lawn decorations come in all shapes and sizes. While some lawns are more minimalist, others are far from it. Our research shows Kentucky residents leading the pack with the highest amount of garden ornaments on average.

Fence Yourself In

With Americans taking as much care of their backyards as they do, as our research is showing, it makes sense that homeowners want to keep the area fenced in. But our data shows that the reason for fences isn’t so much to keep people out — but rather to keep others in.

Almost half of our respondents use yard fences to keep their pets from running away. Only three percent list living in a high crime area as a reason for fencing.

Fence installation isn’t cheap either. On average, it can cost almost $2,400.

Conclusion

Spending time outdoors is quite literally a breath of fresh air for most homeowners — particularly during the summer months. Considering this, it’s easy to see why Americans put as much time and resources as they do into maintaining their outdoor property.

But, keeping this part of your property maintained doesn’t have to take up that much of your time. It’s easier now than it ever has been. Visit lawnstarter.com to see just how easy this process can be.

Methodology

All participants were screened using a two-pronged approach: (1) description of selection criteria with a requirement for self-acknowledgment and acceptance, and (2) directly asking each participant to confirm each criterion, namely having a yard “yard” The term “yard” was defined as “a piece of ground adjoining a building or house.” A total of 1,065 attempts were made to take the online study, with 50 eliminated for: (1) not having a ‘yard,’ (2) failing captcha, (3) not completing the survey, or (4) a mixture of these. Additionally, 13 response sets were eliminated for having duplicate IP addresses, for a total of 63 eliminations, yielding a completion rate of 94.08%, and a final n = 1,002. This study employed an online survey using a convenience sampling methodology via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, with a subsequent posteriori exploratory, correlational data analysis methodology employed after completion of data scrubbing via Microsoft Excel and data visualization via Tableau.

Want to use our study?

Please feel free! All that we ask is that you include a link back to this page so readers can learn more about the study.

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