People plan to enlist power equipment for spring lawn, garden chores

Men rate brand preference over price
As winter turns to spring, millions of Americans are making plans to put more power in their outdoor lawn and garden work.Power equipment and tools, that is. According to a new Home Depot consumer survey, almost half (45 percent) of all homeowners plan to invest in new outdoor power equipment or gardening tools this season.

Among male respondents, 29 percent hope to upgrade the equipment in their garden sheds and the majority will choose brand name even over price when making their purchase decision.

“There is a groundswell of consumer demand for high-quality lawn equipment,” said Craig Menear, Home Depot’s senior vice president of merchandising for hardlines. “The typical garden shed contains four times more equipment today than it did 20 years ago. In some cases, it rivals the inventory of a commercial landscaper.”

Popularity of new and better tools is indicated in the survey findings. One in 10 male respondents and 20 percent of truck owners agreed that when it comes to outdoor power equipment, “if it’s new, I’ve got to have it.” In fact, 46 percent of men (compared with 22 percent of women) report they either will buy a mower, trimmer, blower, edger, pressure washer, air-compressor or generator this year.

Among all power equipment, a mower is the most sought-after item. Thirteen percent of homeowners are planning to buy a new mower, either walk-behind or riding. That represents 8.3 million new mowers that people are currently saying they will buy this season.
Men more brand conscious
Contrary to popular belief, men appear to be more concerned with brand names than price tags, at least when it comes to their lawn equipment. Forty-three percent of male respondents cited “a brand I trust” as the most important factor when purchasing new lawn and garden equipment, followed by price at 38 percent.

Women, on the other hand, stated that price, at 44 percent, was their first consideration when making a purchase decision, followed by brand at 39 percent.

Next most important on everyone’s list is getting equipment that can be easily maintained (34 percent of all respondents) and that gets the job done quicker (27 percent).

Less mowing, more time enjoying
The survey results indicate many Americans will spend less time on lawn and garden pursuits this season. The percentage of homeowners planning to spend less than two hours a week has increased 50 percent since 2002 (from 18 percent to 28 percent). During this same period, the number of die-hard purists – those who say they will spend more than eight hours a week on lawn and garden activities – has dropped (from 15 percent to 10 percent).

These changes bode well for high-performance lawn equipment, including riding tractors, self-propelled mowers and gas-powered blowers and trimmers. Manufacturers, such as John Deere, Toro, Murray and Honda, are now offering mowers with more horsepower and features such as self-propulsion, combined mulching and bagging systems, and cruise control, all of which have led to reductions in time spent cutting the grass.

“Advances in outdoor power equipment trim hours off the time it takes to maintain a yard,” said Menear. As an example, Menear offers the all-new Toro TimeCutter Z mower, a residential riding mower with a zero turning radius. The rear wheels of this unit operate independently, which makes it easier to mow around trees, flowerbeds and other obstacles.

“Twenty-five years ago, a typical riding mower came with a 5-horsepower engine. Today, Home Depot offers a John Deere tractor with a 25-horsepower automatic transmission engine and cruise control,” he said.

Chores we deplore, let Mikey do it
When it comes to actual types of work, there is widespread agreement: No one likes to do the weeding. Both men and women, older and younger, people all agree that weeding is their least favorite lawn and garden activity.
Among those who least like weeding and have children at home, nearly half (44 percent) say they pay their children on average $11.10 per week to do it. But if you are a kid negotiating over that salary, the survey indicates you are much better off negotiating with dad than with mom. On average, dads pay a third more than moms.

For men, the next biggest chore after weeding is sweeping up. One in five men (21 percent) cannot stand cleaning or sweeping their driveways, patios, and walkways. For women, the second-biggest pain is spreading fertilizer and chemicals. One in four women (26 percent) cite this activity as their least favorite, after weeding.

All aboard the new John Deere
For most men, a cruise on the high seas or courtside seats at college basketball finals take a backseat to a new John Deere lawn tractor. Thirty-seven percent of male survey respondents would rather win the revered green and yellow riding mower than a Caribbean cruise (34 percent), new bedroom furniture (13 percent) or tickets to the NCAA basketball finals (7 percent).

Women, also, appear to be enthralled with John Deere. One in four (24 percent) would choose a new John Deere riding mower, compared to 33 percent who would opt for the cruise and 27 percent who prefer new bedroom furniture.

For those with yards over half an acre, a Caribbean cruise hardly even compares to a new John Deere. These homeowners are almost twice as likely to choose the new riding mower over the trip (45 percent versus 25 percent). Truck owners also side heavily with choosing the mower over the vacation (43 percent chose the John Deere compared to 30 percent who chose the trip).

Yard of the Month Club
The majority (42 percent) of all respondents in the Home Depot poll believes a well-kept lawn indicates that a person is hardworking. Women feel especially strong about this, with 51 percent judging this to be true compared with 32 percent of men. Southerners, in particular, are more likely to believe that a well-kept lawn is a reflection of good values.

“Regardless of where you live, there’s a good chance you’ll be investing in outdoor lawn equipment this spring,” said Menear.

Founded in 1978, The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer and the second largest retailer in the United States, with fiscal 2003 sales of $64.8 billion. The company employs approximately 300,000 associates and has 1,730 stores in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, eight Canadian provinces, and Mexico.

From February 21 to February 24, 2004, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates conducted 606 telephone interviews nationally. All interviews were conducted by random-digit dialing (RDD). Potential survey participants were screened to determine whether they were homeowners and whether they had a lawn as part of their property. All survey respondents are at least 18 years or older. All participants own and live in their own house and have a lawn. The overall margin of error for this study is +/- 3.98 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Margins for subgroups are slightly higher.