An ice-bound February is a good time to do some research and get an idea as to what your customers are liable to ask for in the coming year. After all, many of your future customers are spending their weeknights and weekends parked in front of the tube as they wait for warmer days ahead – and there’s no telling what sort of ideas HGTV is putting into their heads.
The American Society of Landscape Architects recently released an “informal” study that jibbed completely with comments made in last month’s issue of Total Landscape Care by landscape designer and DIY Network host Ahmed Hassan. According to the ASLA survey, the concept of the backyard as an “outdoor room” is steadily gaining steam among consumers. As Hassan noted, this concept is an extension of the idea of a yard as living space. That means homeowners will look for landscapers who have definite ideas on making outdoor spaces comfortable and convenient for entertaining and relaxation. The concept of the outdoor room means adding features like kitchens and bars to outdoor areas, usually combined with relaxing features like fire pits and outdoor fireplaces.
It’s perhaps a little strange but another trend, toward environmentally friendly landscapes with native plants and more efficient irrigation management systems, seems to be at odds with the outdoor room movement. But the ASLA study suggests savvy landscapers will try to combine the two, perhaps by adding rain gardens, koi ponds, pools or other green solutions beyond the boundaries of the outdoor living space – perhaps as the natural viewing space for those seated around the fireplace or working in the outdoor kitchen.
With recent spikes in heating and fuel costs, it’s no surprise that many customers will be looking for more efficient ways to stretch their landscaping dollars in the coming year. Smart landscapers will respond to these demands by considering new options for managing storm water runoff and maximizing the potential for easing irrigation costs. The use of recycled materials in landscaping, as well as energy-efficient lighting, green roofs and use of indigenous plant species, can satisfy a homeowner’s demands for more eco-friendly living spaces while maintaining that crucial connection with nature that is so important to homeowners.
It’s clear as we settle into 2007 that homeowners are looking to use and enjoy their outdoor spaces more than ever before. And more than ever, thanks to television shows highlighting landscape design, homeowners are awash in a sea of exciting new ideas and concepts to choose from. Arming yourself with new design ideas can place you at the forefront of your local landscape design scene and help ensure the success and profitability of your landscape company as this industry grows and matures.