A panel of landscape experts met on Oct. 21 to discuss industry trends and challenges during the GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky. Here are four trends that emerged from the discussion that you may come across in your business.

1. Small Spaces

David Snodgrass of Dennis’ 7 Dees in Oregon said he’s seeing more row homes built, so the need for small-space landscaping with container gardening and smaller versions of plants is necessary. “That seems to be really hot and not slowing down at all,” he said.

Photo: Botanical Decorators

Photo: Botanical Decorators

2. Water management

Across the country, dealing with water is a major issue, whether it’s lack thereof or excessive water due to heavy rains. Michael Hupf of Lifescape Colorado says they rely on snow melt for water, and although it hasn’t rained since June, they are doing OK because they had a good snow melt this year. Nevertheless, they’re installing a lot of meadows instead of just turf because of water shortage concerns. “It’s affecting us and I don’t see that going away,” he said.

Paul Fields of Lambert’s in Dallas said rains come in big events in their area. “We get a lot at once and the ground doesn’t absorb [the rain], so we’ve been trying to figure out ways to work with this,” he said. The company harvests the rainwater in an above-ground cistern to develop their own compost, a move that’s in keeping with their 100 percent organic philosophy.

millennium-park-chicago

Millennium Park in Chicago. Photo: Jeffrey L. Bruce LLC

3. Natural stone vs. manmade material

Hupf said he believes markets are different and depend on what materials are available. His local materials aren’t as durable, so manufactured materials are often used.

Snodgrass said where he is in the Pacific Northwest, they’re also not doing as much natural stone but more paver stone. “Our process is to listen to the customer and their lifestyle and we’ll coach them along,” he said. “That’s what makes every landscape a good one is the influence someone has on us.”

PHOTO: Grindstone Hardscapes and Graczyk Lawn & Landscape

Photo: Grindstone Hardscapes and Graczyk Lawn & Landscape

4. Generational differences

Michael Hatcher of Michael Hatcher & Associates, Inc., in Mississippi said he sees the baby boomers investing in yards for their grandkids. While millennials may be looking for something different, Hatcher said he believes they’ll eventually transgress through periods of life where they’ll want yards for their kids, too.

Fields said while there’s been a lot of promotion of urban living, it’s not really happening in the long-term. He said studies show once millennials hit 10 years out of college, many want to live in a traditional suburban neighborhood with a large lot with room for kids to play. “I think we’ll always continue to see suburbs grow,” he said.

Aging Beautifully with Maintenance in Mind

Photo: Kevin O’Brien