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The Future of Landscaping

Recently I had an enlightening conversation with a PR agent and the head of a major landscape company about the future of the landscaping industry. Over the last 5 years, we have seen a major increase in project size and cost when it comes to outdoor renovations and the landscape trade had boomed because of it. Unfortunately it looks like rougher waters ahead however.

Now my editor cringes every time I talk about the generational gap between Millennials, Generation X, and the Baby Boomers. Unfortunately for her, these three demographics are changing the face of landscaping as we move into a new period for our backyards.

As a landscaping customer, Baby Boomers are significantly more conservative in their spending on outdoor renovations. While they love gardening, they are doing small to medium projects in the yard in an attempt to save a little cash. The idea of spending a hundred thousand on a backyard renovation seems preposterous to most of them. Instead, Boomers will do a deck or a patio one year, maybe a screened in gazebo the next, and continue to stage their renovation over a long period. This renovation method is perfect for developing a long-term customer and many landscape companies have done just that. Unfortunately, this demographic is largely done buying new houses.

Generation X has been the landscape company dream. They are pushing average outdoor renovation ticket prices higher and higher. This group of homeowners is even taking equity out of their homes to spend more outside on things like salt-water pools and luxury cabanas. Companies that build outdoor kitchens are showing record growth as more of Generation X builds their dream backyard space. It has become commonplace for homeowners to be willing to spend more than $200,000 on a backyard renovations. The big issue however is that Gen X is only going to do this once. They hire a company, spend a lot of money and will never see that company again. Going back to a home over several years just isn’t happening anymore the way it did with the Boomers, putting the longevity of these landscaping companies in question as more businesses will now compete for a shrinking market.

So who are the next customers? Well it’s not the Millennials. To date, the newest group of homebuyers would rather build a garden out of hay-bales or patio furniture out of shipping pallets than hire a company to do the work. This is partially because they don’t have deep pockets, but also because the Millennial Generation is all about the ‘experience’. They want to do it themselves and success is measured by how they feel afterwards and less on the quality of the product. They want to grow vegetables, have bees and chickens and save the world through daisies as an alternative to a lawn. Millennials care about the environment more so then their own bank accounts, willing to put the needs of the planet ahead of their own!

Now of course I am making some huge generalizations and that there are a lot of grey areas but think about what I’ve said. We all know people in each category that fit the description. I even know where I fit in the mix. While I am personally holding out to see if this is in fact the direction things will go, the smart landscape companies should start investing in Monarch butterfly starter kits now and focus on the environment and how outdoor renovations impact the world that we live in.


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