Throughout the pandemic, I've watched people reconnect and get to know how to care for and appreciate their yards and landscapes. We all like our lawns and landscapes to be aesthetically pleasing and pretty, but they also can be purposeful.
Research shows simply spending time in nature, which can start in your backyard, is good for reducing stress, boosting heart health, boosting Vitamin D levels, and enhancing memory. Thanks to the family yard, the health and well-being benefits of being outside are just a few steps away.
Although the pandemic has been awful for a lot of people, for those who have been able to get outdoors and take some stewardship of their space, it has been a meaningful time.
Kris Kiser, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute president and CEO, defines this trend as “backyarding.” He says the term refers to the trend to move many indoor activities, from working in an office or classroom to dining and recreation, to the outdoors. Over the past year, backyards and other managed landscapes became a haven for social gatherings, celebrating milestones/holidays, working, studying, playing, exercising, and relaxing.
There are almost limitless possibilities for creativity as homeowners seek to expand and enjoy their yards.
In 2020, home improvements, particularly those in the backyard, skyrocketed, as did the demand for outdoor power equipment. All the things that help people use the outdoors got into real demand. According to OPEI data, shipments of outdoor power equipment increased 16% in 2020. To put is simply, 2020 was a monster year for outdoor power equipment and related landscaping materials.
As of this writing, numbers are already solid this spring, as homeowners continue showing interest in making backyard investments. In addition, on the commercial side, landscapers are moving ahead with equipment purchases they may have held back on last year.
Kiser and the OPEI board have recently reflected on this notion and believe that there has been a real reconnection of understanding of the importance of outdoor space. They believe the notion is here to stay.
For landscape professionals, this boom in backyard improvements can be an equal benefit. Remember, from the homeowners’ perspective, you’re the experts. When they try and select plants and put in something that needs full sun into a shaded area, it’s you they call to make it right.
Let your customers or potential customers know that you are there to help. You have the labor, the materials, and the knowledge to execute their vision. It doesn't matter what they have, it can be an acre, half acre, quarter acre, a patio, a roof deck, whatever space they have that is outdoors can be configured or modified and pay dividends. I think if landscape contractors do that with homeowners, that space can be tailored to be beautiful and aesthetic, but also purposeful.