Leaning into sustainable landscaping

April 10, 2022
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In recent years, we’ve noticed a considerable shift in the landscaping industry and the types of landscape projects homeowners request. Fresh demand for more natural, more biodiverse, and more sustainable landscapes has transcended traditional styles of yards past. If you’re in the landscaping business, you’re already experiencing the changes underway. And for you greenhouse and nursery growers out there, it’s time to zero in on the types of plants your landscaper customers need.

2022 stands to be another bumper year for landscapers and ornamental growers. According to a recent Axiom Marketing survey, today’s new homeowners look at landscaping as high-priority home improvement projects—and they’re ready to spend. And with sustainability-minded Millennials accounting for 38% of all U.S. home purchases, it pays to be prepared with the plants they want.

It’s important to remember that evolving consumer preferences don’t always mean changing the plants you grow. Sometimes it can be as simple as seeing your existing stock through a new lens and helping your customers do the same. As landscaping trends lean into sustainability, these insights into in-demand plants can help you—and your wholesale or retail customers—be prepared for sales:

Native plants continue their upward trek on the list of homeowner wants and needs this year. Consumers have grown more aware of the beauty and benefits of native plants, but they’ve also grown more sophisticated in what they’re looking for. Offering North American natives isn’t necessarily enough. Consumers digging deeper want plants native to the region around their future planting site. When you offer locally grown natives and nativars that are adapted to local conditions, that's a big bonus in these consumers’ eyes.

Water-conserving plants reflect a more informed approach to conserving natural resources—and cutting water bills, too. Succulents and other drought-tolerant plants still skyrocket in popularity. But consumers in areas with plentiful precipitation learn hard lessons: Xeriscape plants don’t often thrive in landscapes that get lots of rain. These landscaping consumers seek plants that need little or no supplemental irrigation—at their homes, not somewhere else. Reframing water conservation to fit your climate, wherever that may be, can help you gain devoted customers.

Rain garden plants that help sequester stormwater serve a dual purpose: They look beautiful all season and they bolster sustainability while they do. New homeowners who believe every effort to help the environment counts, no matter the size, want rainfall to recharge aquifers, not fill storm sewer drains. When your landscaping services or plant inventories highlight versatile rain garden plants and plantings that can handle downpours—and the drier spells that follow—you bump yourself up their sustainable source list.

Biodiversity-promoting plants run the gamut from color plants that attract bees and birds to trees that support diverse beneficial insect life. Pollinator garden popularity hasn’t faded but expect probing questions: This informed generation of landscaping customers understand that all echinaceas and milkweeds aren’t created equal when it comes to supplying nectar, pollen, and shelter for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Take time to understand and convey which plants promote biodiversity best and why; you’ll find yourself ahead of the game.

Plant types and benefits drive much of the demand in sustainable landscapes and purpose-driven plantings. But finished plant materials aren’t the only sustainability measures that homeowners have in mind. They’re looking at you, your growing media, your fertilizers, your pest programs, and your growing practices as well. Take advantage of this interest to let your customers and the public know where you stand. You can help them grow environmentally friendly landscapes and do it more sustainably.

At ICL, we’re committed to making an impact for a sustainable future—and we want to help you and your customers do the same. From your growing operation or landscaping services to homeowners’ sustainable gardens and yards, our people and our products can help you succeed. So give us a call or send us an email. Let's chat about what you and your customers want and need.