59% of landscapers say they currently offer trees and ornamentals as part of their services.
Photo: Adobestock

Each year, Greenhouse Management sister publication Lawn & Landscape publishes its own State of the Industry issue, featuring data and insight from industry professionals to help readers understand where the market currently stands. You can read the 2017 version online now at bit.ly/2HBw1J3

Here are five stats from Lawn & Landscape’s State of the Industry issue that greenhouse growers should know, whether they are already selling to landscapers or are thinking about getting into that market.

1. The industry continues to rebound after the last recession.

Like the greenhouse industry, lawn and landscape professionals were hit hard by the Great Recession and the years of economic discomfort that came with it. The good news is, those days appear be over.

In this year’s report, responders reported a median revenue of $291,000 — up from $256,000 in 2015 and $217,000 in 2014. Additionally, 86% of landscape contractors reported turning a profit in 2016 — up from 84% in 2014 and 78% in 2014. Comparatively, 88% of responders to Greenhouse Management’s State of the Industry report said they turned a profit last year.

“There are so many new office buildings, apartment communities, colleges, universities and distribution centers,” says Steve Christy, president of Massachusetts-based LEI Corporation, told Lawn & Landscape. “All of these [businesses] need to have their landscaping installed when they are built, and they have to have their landscaping maintained and their snow plowed. It’s a great thing.”

Like greenhouse growers, landscapers cite finding and retaining quality labor as their top concern. Photo: Laura Watilo Blake

2. Businesses are offering more services.

According to Lawn & Landscape’s report, 59% of landscaper contractors say they began offering tree and ornamental services in the past year. Additionally, another 8% of responders said they plan to start offering trees and ornamentals in the next 12 months. Comparatively, 6% said they stopped offering trees and ornamentals in the past year.

“The quality of jobs is better,” says Cara Doyle, owner of Summit Hardscaping in Fort Collins, Colorado. “We’re getting to do the jobs we want to do versus when we were in the Recession, we were in survival mode.”

Trees and ornamentals are a small part of many businesses’ service — they accounted for just 4% of gross revenue in 2016 and ranked as the sixth-fastest growing category, according to the report — but interest seems to be growing.

3. They share labor concerns.

While landscapers’ concern for labor dropped slightly — from 45% saying it was a top concern in the 2016 SOI to 42% saying it was a top concern in the 2017 version — it is still the top concern in the industry. 77% said they believe a lack of quality employees hinders their operation’s growth.

Several factors contribute to this concern. Some businesses like Peabody Landscaping in Columbus were shut out of the H-2B visa pool and had to turn to a temporary staffing company to fill needed roles. Others, such as Blades of Green in Edgewater, Maryland, were having problems retaining workers, with Blades of Green being only able to keep on 35% of their staff.

94% of landscapers say they are at least “somewhat confident” in where the industry is headed.
Photo: Laura Watilo Blake

“When you’re running around trying to run your business, it’s hard to find time for hiring,” says Angela Heironimus, HR Manager at Blades of Green.

Others, such as TLC Total Lawncare in Jacksonville, Florida, cited issues finding labor in an area where unemployment is low. Many greenhouse business owners can sympathize with and relate to these concerns.

4. Minimum wage is also top-of-mind.

In Greenhouse Management’s State of the Industry issue — which can be found at bit.ly/2DrBuPS — many growers reported concerns over a potential minimum wage spike and how that would affect their ability to hire labor. Many landscape companies have the same concerns, with 33% of responders considering higher wage costs a major concern in the next three years.

“Last year, it went up about 50 cents an hour, but it will start increasing $1 an hour each time until it hits $15,” says Aaron Stewart, partner and vice president of Stewart Landscape Management in Ripon, California. “So, for us, we have to provide a service that warrants these [wage] increases to cover the labor and remain cognizant of our customer base.”

In the last year, 8% of landscape companies say they have added tree and ornamental offerings to their business.
Photo: Adobestock

5. The industry is optimistic.

Despite those concerns, 94% of landscape responders say they are at least “somewhat confident” that the industry will grow. Additionally, 93% of responders say they are confident that their business will grow.

“We’ve doubled in size this year,” says Suzanne Brosche, owner of Stone Gardening in Dahlonega, Georgia, which is just outside of Atlanta. “Right now, we are about three or four months [booked] out on any new work.”

By comparison, 86% of greenhouse growers said they are at least “somewhat confident” in the direction the industry is headed.

Lawn & Landscape editors Brian Horn, Lauren Rathmell and Megan Smalley contributed to this report.