Trends to Watch for in 2009: Stay Ahead of the Curve to Increase Your Landscaping Business
Cozy cocoons, rooftop gardens, organic treatments and other trends are driving new business for landscapers. Find out what industry niche may be your next sales expansion tool.
By: Dennis McCafferty, June 2009
In this economy, any edge will help a landscaping business. The best way to maintain an edge is to stay on top of developing trends that could expand your customer offerings, thus increasing sales opportunities. Here are five trends to watch in 2009:
1. Water conservation. As a cost‐saving and environmentally sound practice, many landscapers are exploring the latest ways to help customers save water in the landscape. Nan Sterman, owner of Encinitas, Calif.‐based Plant Soup Inc., promotes plants that use little water such as Toyon, Mediterranean native rosemary and Mexican native agaves. Sterman uses drip irrigation, which is a more targeted method of watering. “This is critical as more and more states find themselves facing drought situations,” Sterman says. “All of Southern California is facing a huge water crisis. It’s important to figure out how long and how often one needs to irrigate, but few landscapers in the past have taken the time to figure it out.”
2. Cocooning. Private, secure and even cozy spaces are now growing in demand among families seeking quality time with friends and loved ones at home. This is leading to a number of landscapers establishing “cocoon” design niches, with raised planter/seat walls, built‐in water features and privacy arbors/fencing, says J. Mark White, owner of Arlington, Va.‐based GardenWise Inc. Colorful plantings are also often part of the package, as well as elegant stone terraces. “With the current economic situation, these intimate spaces give homeowners a private, verdant sanctuary in their own backyard,” says White, who regularly appears on HGTV’s Curb Appeal.
3. Organic products. Greater awareness about the use of chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides has lead customers to ask for organic alternatives. This has created a niche for landscapers such as Michael Cioffi, who oversees the lawn maintenance and organics division of Allendale, N.J.‐based Borst Landscape and Design. The division is 12 years old, and has established a thriving line of privately labeled organic landscape products. Nitrogen sources, for example, are cultivated from items such as feathermeal, blood meal, bonemeal and kelp. “Sensible lawn care can be achieved by taking the time to find the least toxic solution to problems,” Cioffi says. “An organic approach to lawn care works in concert with nature’s own system of checks and balances. It’s also a great way to help build a healthy, sustainable lawn.” Among other practices, Cioffi stresses the need to use proper seed blends and vary plantings in landscapes, as biodiversity provides balance; to sharpen mower blades every day and cut grass no closer than 3 inches to provide shade and discourage weed growth; and to water longer but less frequently to allow for greater water penetration.
4. Rooftop designs. Landscapers are finding new markets in cities and heavily developed areas these days, thanks to surging interest in rooftop projects. These designs help retain heat and capture water for reuse. “We’re seeing an increase in demand for this kind of eco‐friendly landscaping in both the residential and commercial markets,” says John Vlay, president and CEO of San Jose, Calif.‐based Jensen Corporate Holdings, a provider of landscape construction and maintenance services for commercial, public and residential properties. “We see more corporate campuses, college buildings and high‐end residencies that want to install these.”
5. “Two‐for‐one” materials. Some businesses within the construction industries are expanding their customer service offerings by finding new, non‐traditional uses of materials for landscaping. Dave Brassard, who owns Temple, N.H.‐based RE Marble and Granite, is using unused pieces for kitchen countertops and bathroom jobs, and ‘repurposing’ them for lawn projects. “Several customers have asked us to do projects where they wanted stepping stone pavers made from granite,” Brassard says. “We cut the granite from old countertops that were part of a renovation project, and treated them with a product that both brought out a nice color in the stone and sealed it to prevent winter damage. The finished product is really strong.”
O’Grady Communications, LLC [email protected] Phone: 650‐321‐6919
Jensen Corporate Holdings, Inc.
1983 Concourse Drive San Jose, California 95131 ph 408.446.1118 fx 408.446.4881 www.jensencorp.com