About a year ago, home design website Houzz surveyed its members about their outdoor landscaping projects. This included recently completed projects, in-progress projects, and upcoming projects. The 2016 survey showed many similar trends to the 2015 survey. It's a safe bet to assume last year's results can give us some idea of the outdoor projects homeowners might be starting in 2017.
1) Water Conscious Renovations
A high percentage of homeowners cited drainage problems as a major reason for their renovations. 40% of respondents in the south and 27% to 35% in other regions listed drainage as their top challenge. That could include excess surface water, high underground water tables, runoff leading to erosion, or other water-related issues. In contrast, 46% of homeowners in western states consider drought/water shortage their biggest challenge.
In keeping with these nation-wide concerns about water, it's little wonder that the number of homeowners upgrading their water management systems is going up. Fully 40% of homeowners surveyed were updating their sprinkler or irrigation systems (compared to 29% the previous year). 18% planned to start harvesting rainwater, most of them using a rain barrel system.
2) Creating Privacy
Nation-wide, lack of privacy was listed #2 on the Top Challenges Addressed During Outdoor Projects. None of the survey questions directly asked how homeowners were increasing privacy, but we can take some guesses.
The survey found more homeowners are planting perennials, shrubs, trees, and other plants than in previous years. Low-maintenance and flowering plants are the most popular, and I think we can assume some of these plantings are also used to screen the yard from prying eyes. 34% of respondents also talked about installing a fence or property border, so hardscaping plays a role in increasing privacy as well.
3) Pets and Children
Quite a large number of renovators are keeping children or grandchildren in mind when updating their outdoor spaces. Fully 33% planned to make kid-related updates. Those included spaces to run and play, planting edible landscape plants, adding a fence around the yard, avoiding toxic plants, and installing a play structure.
Even more survey respondents, 42%, were making pet-related updates. For both dogs and cats, creating space to run and play topped the list. Toxin-free plants, fenced off areas, paths for exploring, and providing shelter were also top concerns.
4) Making It Comfortable
Survey results indicate homeowners prioritize style, comfort, and beauty in a landscape that is, above all, low-maintenance. After finishing their landscape project, they want to focus on enjoying the space rather than maintaining it.
Another top concern is creating an outdoor living space that the entire family can enjoy on a regular basis and which makes entertaining easy. More than half the homeowners renovating outdoor spaces include outdoor furniture in the design, and 75% included outdoor comfort features like fire pits, seating, hammock, and storage.
5) Landscape Pros Needed
The good news for landscape professionals is that people planning renovations aren't focused exclusively on DIY projects. Fully 52% of survey respondents hired a landscaping professional to help with their projects. The five professionals most in-demand were landscape contractors/gardeners, landscape architects or designers, paving specialists, deck and patio specialists, and fencing and gate specialists.
If your business can help homeowners address drainage problems, water conservation, and privacy you should be in a good place for the upcoming year. Catering to pet- and child-friendly yards, as well helping homeowners create a comfortable, low-maintenance space, will also help you stand out as a landscape professional. And as you support your customers, remember that we're here to support you with professional quality lawn equipment and a promise to always service what we sell.