Discover the seven outdoor living trends that will rule American backyards this summer.
Blushing tulips brighten sidewalks. Charbroiled dinners sizzle on patio grills. Signs of spring are popping up all over the neighborhood. Are you ready to cater to homeowners looking to relax on a deck or till a vegetable garden once warm weather hits?
This year, retailers will notice an increase in demand for outdoor-living products that promote healthy living, both for the homeowner and for the planet, according to the Garden Media Group’s annual garden trends report for 2015.
“Brands that help consumers make positive environmental, personal and community impacts will pull ahead,” according to a synopsis of the report.
Other outdoor living trends making headlines include an increased interest in cooking outdoors, learning how to garden without the need for soil and transforming yards into relaxing getaways with nature-inspired pools and uncommonly shaped decks. And kids’ playsets are growing in both popularity and size.
The report also highlights a shift in the typical buyer of gardening and outdoor supplies.
The millennial generation, currently aged 18-35, now make up a quarter of the population. Millennial men in particular are spending $100 more per person on plants than the average consumer. And young people, as well as America’s growing Hispanic population, particularly enjoy growing fruits and vegetables to share with family and friends.
1. Outdoor Cooking and Dining
Cooking and dining outdoors remains popular in 2015. From growing bite-sized tomatoes in container gardens on apartment patios to hosting elaborate outdoor dinner parties in sprawling backyards, expect to help consumers find ways to take their meal prep outdoors this spring.
“The popularity of smokers continues to rise, but charcoal and grills remain king of the backyard. More specifically, propane grills at accessible prices are the foundation for a lot of outdoor cooking and entertainment,” Phil Landry, category manager for Wayfair, explained to Industry Edge.
In addition to smokers and grills, consider stocking outdoor stone ovens and fire pits for food enthusiasts who enjoy baking rustic pizzas and homemade breads. For the kids, keep a supply of telescoping cooking wands on hand.
National Hardware Show® exhibitor Nostalgic Images offers The Original Pocket Roaster, which extends to 32 inches, so children can roast hot dogs or marshmallows over a backyard fire pit from a safe distance.
Grill stones can help even the most savvy grill masters take their cooking skills to a new level. The Island Grillstone perfectly sears everything on the grill — from meat kebabs to fresh vegetables — without worrying that the food will fall through the grill grate.
And don’t forget to feature small add-on supplies, such as wood chips, meat rubs, novelty barbecue sauces and cooking tools, near the checkout.
This spring, Lokhandwala LLC will debut its new indoor/outdoor EZ-Roll Holder at the National Hardware Show®.
“Its unique design allows the user to attach a paper-towel roll in a car, RV, boat, campsite, virtually anywhere, without having to use any tools or drill holes,” says Ghazanfer Hussain, owner of Lokhandwala LLC. “It’s perfect for families with young kids and [and anyone who] loves the outdoors.”
2. Tranquil Backyard Sanctuaries
Spring is a time to reconnect with nature, so why not help consumers transform their green spaces into a relaxing oasis?
The desire for “gardentainment” products is expected to increase in 2015, according to Garden Media Group’s report. Homeowners looking to remodel their yards might consider in-ground water features, such as ornamental ponds, wishing wells, fountains or lap pools.
Additional zen-inducing items to stock this spring include supplies for fairy gardens and rock gardens as well whimsical sculptures and artistic decor to hang on fences and adorn patio tables.
But nothing invites relaxation like comfortable outdoor seating. Portable hammocks, two-person swings and table/chair sets encourage consumers to spend even more time with Mother Nature.
Rick Baalmann, owner of Rick’s Ace Hardware & Garden (5 stores, Missouri and Illinois) as well as Terra, in St. Louis, says customers will be revitalizing their outdoor seating spaces with colorful pillows to freshen the look of last year’s patio furniture.
“We also see a growing demand for outdoor area rugs with a cool pattern to accessorize the area,” Baalmann adds.
3. New Types of Gardening
For some, digging in the soil and nourishing plants is what makes spring the favorite season.
Last fall, GE Capital conducted a survey of attendees at the annual Green Industry & Equipment (GIE) Expo, in Louisville, Kentucky. All 176 respondents felt lawn and garden sales would see an increase in 2015, with 22 percent predicting an estimated growth of 15 percent or more.
Rick Pontz, founder of the The Lawn & Garden Performance Group LLC, says consumers are seeking gardening products and methods that are sensitive to the environment and protect the planet. One growing trend is hydroponics, which means plants are grown without the use of soil. Instead, roots are suspended in nutrient-rich water.
“Hydroponics is continuing its upward trend, driven by many factors, including the decriminalization of marijuana,” Pontz explains. “As more states and counties open up the ability to ‘grow your own,’ more people will need seeds, plants and other growing products.”
Pontz says retailers who want to boost their bottom lines this spring should also offer colorful supplies aimed at all types of gardeners. For children, this might include brightly patterned pots to plant flowers in; for sports lovers, watering cans printed with team logos will hit the mark.
“Interior decorating techniques and color schemes are being extended to the outdoor patio and living areas as entertainment moves freely between indoors and outdoors,” Pontz notes.
4. Ornate Decks and Patios
As more and more homeowners make outdoor spaces part of their everyday living areas, it’s no surprise that the demand for unique deck and patio designs is on the rise, according to a 2015 Outdoor Living Forecast compiled by Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing.
Trex predicts that many decks in 2015 will sport multiple tiers, curved features and built-in pergolas and walls to define various areas. The company also expects an increase in built-in seating, complete with outdoor throw pillows, weather-resistant cushions and functional storage space below the seats. Complementary outdoor lighting fixtures, portable heaters, ornamental post caps and decorative balusters that coordinate with a home’s interior design will also be big this year.
5. Play Areas for Kids and Pets
While selling food-prep and relaxation products to the grown-ups, don’t forget fun for the little ones, children and pets alike.
Leslie Gillock, vice president and director of Insights for Wray Ward, says backyard play structures will remain popular in 2015.
“Swing sets aren’t going away. They continue to be the most budget-friendly option for backyard playsets,” she says. “Wooden playsets have expanded this market and elevated price points over the years.”
Expect to see designs that go beyond the classic swings-and-slide combos. Playsets now feature everything from ropes and zip lines to climbing walls and lookout towers.
And for homeowners whose kids are of the furry variety, the catio (rhymes with patio) is making a debut in the yards of cat lovers.
“This has morphed from a do-it-yourself fad to a real cottage industry, with some home renovators specifically promoting their experience in developing elaborate catios. Seattle’s Catio Spaces is a professional design/build company offering enclosures in nine different styles ranging from Feng Shui to Shabby Chic,” Gillock says.
6. Nature-Inspired Lawns and Pools
With the coming of spring, homeowners across the nation want their outdoor space to be attractive and inviting — and not too much work!
Keith Williams is a partner at Nievera Williams Design, a landscape architecture firm in Florida. An American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Award of Honor winner, Williams says retailers should focus on offering homeowner products that create a sustainable, low-maintenance outdoor space.
“We like to not only use drought-tolerant, wind-tolerant and low-maintenance plant materials, but we like to incorporate sustainable hardscape materials, such as composite woods and turf stabilizers, that limit the need or use of stone for driveways and terraces,” Williams says.
Economical lighting options are also top of mind for many property owners. “Landscape lighting has also become sustainable with a variety of LED fixtures in lighting pools, fountains and landscapes. Pool lighting that includes LED coloring that changes, as well as LED strip lighting, have taken on new technology and provide amazing effects,” he says.
Williams also says that swimming-pool makeovers are trending toward a nature-inspired style, with seamless transitions between nearby hardscapes, such as lawns or terraces. And pool owners are looking to resurface pool walls with stone, coral or travertine in lieu of traditional pool finishes.
Global Industry Analysts Inc.’s Outdoor Appliances and Power Tools: A Global Strategic Business Report says that retailers will see an increase in sales of outdoor appliances and power tools used for gardening and lawn maintenance, to the tune of 118 million units by 2020.
The report says this upswing in sales is due to consumers’ focus on going green and taking on more DIY projects, especially in the yard.
“Growth in the market is also driven by factors such as rise in new housing starts, increasing number of single family homes, rebound in home remodeling activity, and consumer enthusiasm for outdoor living,” according to a PR Rocket press release regarding the GIA report.
“Consumer desire for outdoor living is gaining strength supported by lifestyle upgrades in both developing and developed markets worldwide. Increased indulgence in backyard cooking and garden parties are benefiting demand for lawn and landscaping power tools.”
As healthy living, spending time outdoors and enjoying the pleasures of home become more trendy, offering consumers ways to enhance their personal outdoor spaces is key. Help your customers take outdoor living to a whole new level in 2015.