142%.

That's the increase in demand for professionals to mow and trim lawns during March, according to data released by Thumbtack, an online platform that connects over 10 million customers with local small businesses.

The company says there's been a dramatic drop in activity last month, especially in San Francisco (-61%), San Jose (-60%) and New York (-40%). Worst hit are event services (DJs, caterers, entertainers) and other categories that involve interaction. Overall, projects tied to the events and education industries dropped 73% from the start of the month.

Mowing the lawn on John Deere tractor
Set the best mowing height for the season and the type of grass. The John Deere Company

What's interesting, however, is the rare categories they saw increases in. It's mainly in the home as people tackle the projects they can while social distancing. Americans have stopped hiring local professionals in most areas except one: home improvement. Overall, demand in the home maintenance and systems industry fell a comparatively low 13-14% with some categories seeing big jumps:

  • Outdoor landscaping and design +44%
  • Tree trimming and removal +20%
  • Central air conditioning installation or replacement +33%
  • Concrete installation +8%
  • Fence and gate installation +4%

Home improvement retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's remain open during the lockdowns, and there's other evidence that people are looking to complete home projects while hunkered in their houses. There's this interview with a Pittsburgh Lowe's employee who complained people are buying "gallons and gallons of paint. They’re buying mulch. They’re buying flowers. They’re buying blinds, home decor items and they’re not coming in for essentials." Workers in different parts of the country have complained that Lowe's is still promoting its spring Black Friday sale and driving crowds to its stores.

Research and Markets identified "home and garden" as one of the areas seeing growth amid the outbreak. It's unclear whether any of this is enough to help offset losses expected of these firms.