Planning to spend even more time at home, many consumers are looking to invest in more expansive outdoor living spaces. Here’s how you can tap into this market with minimal outlay.
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), more and more consumers are looking to create expanded outdoor living rooms for entertaining and simple family gatherings. By helping homeowners create their ideal outdoor environment, landscape contractors can upsell current customers and attract new ones.
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association says the entire “leisure lifestyle” industry, now a $6.2 billion business, is up 5.4% from 2002—and remains one of the hottest trends in America. The concept of “outdoor living” now goes way beyond a simple picnic table and set of folding chairs.
Whether it’s new construction or an existing landscape, there are several easy-to-install, relatively low-cost products that can greatly add to an outdoor living area. And more importantly, they can typically be incorporated into your landscape designs at an above average margin.
Out in sunny California, one landscape supply distributor has been focused on assembling a trendy product offering designed to help its landscape customers reshape and grow their businesses by tapping into the flourishing outdoor living market. In addition to irrigation supplies, Hydro-Scape (hydroscape.com) now offers everything from BBQ grills to fountains to lighting.
“With the way gas prices are, people are staying home more often, so we’re seeing the ‘stay-vacation’ really starting to take form,” says Bill Moores, lighting and outdoor living specialist for Hydro-Scape. A second factor is the soft housing market. More people are opting to reinvest in their existing home rather than invest in a new one.
“As a distributor, we’re trying to offer everything so the landscaper can help the homeowner create his or her backyard paradise,” Moores adds.
HEATIN' THINGS UP
Included in Hydro-Scape’s product offering, Moores says, is everything a landscaper would need to create a complete BBQ island. Hydro-Scape even provides poly gas pipe fusion training. “Some landscapers have the design ability but aren’t sure how to put it all together,” Moores points out. “Our training helps them become certified pretty easily.” Ask your area suppliers what kinds of products and training they have available.
The cost of an outdoor kitchen can vary greatly depending on what the consumer is looking for—and is willing to spend. Basics include a grill and kitchen island, and maybe a sink and refrigerator. Prefabricated kitchen islands like those offered by Hydro-Scape greatly simplify the installation process. Still, many skilled contractors with larger-budget customers are customizing their own, right down to the decorative countertops and flooring.
Perhaps you’ve seen them at popular restaurants such as Macaroni Grill, Paparazzi (Boston) and Little Azio (Atlanta), but wood-burning brick ovens are also making their way onto the residential setting. Since 1981, Renato Ovens Inc. (renatos.com), based in Garland, TX, is helping bring this age-old tradition up to date. Italian-born Renato Riccio, president and founder of the company, says the growing trend toward a more natural, healthy lifestyle has brought about a demand for wood-fired cooking.
Renato has incorporated American electronic ingenuity into his products. By adding temperature controls, safety features and a gas option, Renato’s products—Wood-Coal-Gas-Infra Red Fired Brick Pizza Ovens, Rotisseries and Charbroilers—are adaptable to large restaurants and family kitchens indoors and outdoors alike.
Fire pits and fireplaces, which extend the outdoor season, are equally popular. The Blue Rooster Co., based in Granite Falls, MN
(thebluerooster.com), manufactures a variety of these products. The company says there are a few important considerations to make before selecting an outdoor fireplace: