Amid all the disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, one thing has become undeniably clear: The lawn care and landscaping industry has been thriving. As people cut down on restaurant visits and social events and many started working from their homes, the demand to make those homes a more pleasant place to spend long periods of time grew, and kept growing. We checked out several major industry news sources for predictions on the year ahead.
1. Continued growth: After several years of growth averaging 4.2% annually, multiple sources report that growth increasing to 4.5% year over year for the next five years. Many of the challenges—and opportunities—facing the lawn care/landscaping sector will arise from this steadily rising demand.
2. Staycation destinations: Within the industry, the strongest segment was design-and-build/construction. Homeowners decided to move forward with major projects they’d been postponing, such as larger patios, outdoor dining spaces, and even outdoor kitchens. Many pool builders are already booked into 2023. The most popular items included heat lamps and fire pits that allow families to spend time outdoors in cooler weather. People are increasingly thinking of their yards as extensions of their homes. Contractors may find themselves thinking about expanding into landscape maintenance. Lawn care and landscaping operators might consider exchanging referrals with local contractors.
3. Supply chain issues: Lawn professionals have not escaped these problems that are currently plaguing virtually every part of the economy. Planning far into the future sometimes interferes with cash flow, and even foresight can’t help you if products simply aren’t available.
The one element you have control of is communication with your customers. They know that conditions aren’t normal and may be grappling with similar problems in their own professions. If you don’t overpromise and are clear about what you don’t know, customers will appreciate your honesty. After all, those other providers they could switch to are all facing the same obstacles.
You may find that your customers are more accommodating to evolving circumstances than you might expect. Facing ever-increasing labor and materials costs, several landscapers report doubling or even tripling their prices with no slowdown in the stream of new customer sign-ups. That group just wanted the work done and were willing to pay top dollar for it.
4. Planting native species: The growing body of research into the benefits of focusing on native plants is finally beginning to reach the general public. People who are already vaguely familiar with the history of kudzu are hearing horror stories about Asian carp and murder hornets.
To prepare yourself to answer questions and offer suggestions, a lawn professional’s best bet is to learn as much as possible about the native plants that might be appropriate for people’s yards. Facts to consider include the hardiness of each species; its requirements for soil, shade, and water; its mature height; and whether it flowers (and if so, when and in what colors).
This is just a quick overview of some of the major trends identified by organizations that track the lawn care industry. For more information, check out the publications that we cited in our sources below. And we at Graham would love to hear from you about the trends you’re observing as the year goes on.