The concept of the “outdoor living space” has maintained its popularity over the past few years. Some contractors refer to them as “staycations”—helping to influence the way some consumers view this investment.
“We’re telling customers that instead of spending $7,000 or $8,000 to go to Florida for a week, why not spend it in your backyard where you can use it every day,” says Ben Pamplin of Heart of Texas Landscape & Irrigation in Belton, TX. “Plus, it’s an investment in your home.”
Getting the word out. Heart of Texas kicked off its “staycation” initiative at its biggest public showing of the year, a local home and garden show in late-February. In addition to the impressive display and face-to-face interaction, a four-page brochure was created to assist in the educational effort. Heart of Texas also launched a more organized online marketing campaign that aims to capitalize on popular keywords consumers are searching for, such as “outdoor living area”.
Providing options is important when looking to close the deal. Heart of Texas is working on a four-option outdoor living program. For example, the first option might include a seating area with fireplace while the fourth option could be a full-blown kitchen. In between there are amenities such as water features and paver patios which the consumer can choose. Computer-rendered designs allow consumers to see the project come to life in their own backyard, helping to further stimulate their senses.
Heart of Texas has shifted its focus from homebuilders to existing homeowners. “We want to go after that person who already owns a home and is looking for an add-on,” Pamplin says. “The biggest add-on in landscaping right now is extending your living space into your backyard.”
Enhancing existing landscapes. In Kansas, Kevin Payne says homeowners have been looking for things like fire pits and pondless water features. In Pennsylvania, Mike McShane agrees, adding that homeowners have been looking to extend their existing landscaped areas. “They are looking for additional garden areas, and are adding fire pits and outdoor kitchen areas. The in-ground pool market has actually ticked up slightly for us, too. Additionally, privacy plantings and berms, along with masonry stone walls, make a big impact to existing areas.”
Function also motivates. For some landscape contractors, homeowners that are looking for pure function have created another opportunity. “They’re not so much saying ‘ooh I want this fire pit,’ but are looking to extend their living space or maybe save water,” says Rob Diaz of Land Care in Las Vegas. “People who’ve decided to say in their homes are trying to live within their means and create an environment they can stay with.”
In Connecticut, Craig Kopfmann says homeowners are looking for creative solutions to improve their properties and enhance their day-to-day lives. Masonry projects over plantings emerged as a trend when consumers really started showing an interest in entertaining spaces and family-friendly patios.