New Study Shows How Homeowners Are Investing in Their Yards

The 2017 U.S. Houzz Landscape Trends Study reveals how homeowners have been updating or plan to update their yards, along with how much they are spending and what upgrades are popular.

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The 2017 U.S. Houzz Landscape Trends Study reveals how homeowners have been updating or plan to update their yards, along with how much they are spending and what upgrades are popular.

How much people spend. As with all renovations and home projects, costs can range quite widely. The most common level of spending for an outdoor project is between $1,001 and $5,000, the survey found. A total spend of $1,000 or less is the second most common price level.

A total of 73 percent of minor outdoor projects came in at $5,000 or less. Projects categorized as minor involve smaller-scale work such as mulching, minor planting and painting. In comparison, only 23 percent of projects categorized as complete overhauls — involving work like regrading, terracing and relandscaping — fall into that price range.

Roughly 15 percent of people spent more than $50,000 on their outdoor projects, and many of those projects were complete overhauls.

Both front and back. When it comes to investing in their outdoor spaces, the majority of homeowners (69 percent) with outdoor projects are tackling their backyards. But a sizable percentage — 44 percent — are focusing on their front yards. See related story on how many homeowners are looking to stand out from their neighbors:

Cultivating curb appeal. Of those addressing the front of their homes, nearly half (47 percent) consider updated beds or borders as most important to their home’s curb appeal. Roughly 29 percent are employing shrubs, and nearly as many are including perennials.

Related: 6 Plants Besides Butterfly Bush to Create a Butterfly Garden

Chatting more with the neighbors. While the majority of homeowners are enjoying a similar amount of interactions with their next-door neighbors after the outdoor project as before, a significant slice — 18 percent — say they are interacting more with their neighbors since their outdoor projects were completed.

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Biggest problem areas. The most common challenges being addressed during outdoor projects are drainage and poor use of space. Lack of privacy comes in as the third most common problem area that homeowners are tackling. (See accompanying chart in image carousel.)

Motivations for tackling outdoor projects. Homeowners surveyed say that purchasing a home and wanting to make it their own was the top reason they wanted to address their outdoor spaces. Wanting to address components of the outdoor space that were past their prime came in a close second. A quarter or more of survey respondents say they had wanted to do the project all along and finally had either the time or the money.

How long does it take? When it comes to completing an outdoor improvement project, the planning time varies significantly, depending on how big the project is. Among survey respondents, minor projects involved an average of just over three months of planning and three months of implementation. The biggest projects, which we refer to as complete overhauls, averaged slightly more than six months to plan and just over 5.5 months to implement.

Major projects include substantial updates like paving, putting in new beds, and building or upgrading structures or both. But they don’t reach the level of complete overhauls, which include work like relandscaping and reterracing.

Now we can relax. Two-thirds of homeowners with outdoor projects are using their outdoor spaces for relaxing, the study found. Over half garden, while 40 percent are using outdoor spaces for entertaining.

And we need furniture to do it. All that relaxing requires some comfy furniture, and owners tackling those outdoor projects tend to acquire outdoor lounge furniture for the cause.

Low-maintenance plants are popular. Surprisingly, given all these relaxation lovers, just one in five outdoor renovators is planning to hire professional help to maintain outdoor spaces. No wonder low-maintenance plants are so popular — in fact, they were chosen by 76 percent of owners who have recently completed, are in the midst of or are planning to start an outdoor project in the next three months.

Another interesting trend is that among the 75 percent of homeowners who have an existing lawn, three-quarters have chosen to change it in some way. Back or side lawns are tending to get replanted or enlarged, whereas front lawns are much more likely to be removed.

Structures and sheds get love too. Many homeowners are choosing to work on outdoor structures during their outdoor projects, with 39 percent upgrading patios or terraces and more than a quarter updating their arbors, gazebos, pergolas or trellises.

Related: Sheds Worth the Investment

Owners not pulling the weeds alone. Most homeowners — 73 percent — who completed an outdoor project in 2016 hired a professional. But only 63 percent of those who are planning or in the midst of a project say they will hire one. The Houzz research team attributes the difference to the fact that some people don’t plan to hire a pro, but decide mid-project that they actually do want to hire one. Of those who completed an outdoor project, one-third worked with a landscape architect, one-third with a landscape contractor, and nearly as many hired a stone, paver or concrete specialist.