The $30 billion US outdoor living market will benefit from a number of key trends in 2020. From smart and robotic technology making landscape maintenance more convenient, to rising interest in organic gardening driving live plant and consumables sales, to environmental and climate concerns bolstering demand for hardscaping, native plants, and watering products that can reduce a landscape’s water requirements – consumer preferences are increasingly being addressed by manufacturer innovations, leading to higher-value sales and driving consumer upgrade purchases.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to have a short-term impact on sales as the economic outlook is downgraded and nonessential businesses – such as barbecue and specialty stores – are forced to close. Nevertheless, other retail channels – such as mass merchandisers and home improvement stores – continue to see solid traffic. And as consumers spend more time at home in self-isolation, they may take the opportunity to invest in creating cozier outdoor spaces.
By 2024 – when a vaccine will likely be available – the outdoor living market is expected to largely renormalize. In the interim, trends are not expected to change significantly. Following are 4 outdoor living products that a new Freedonia Group analysis predicts will see fast growth.
- Smart DIY Irrigation System Controllers
Sales of smart controllers for DIY irrigation systems are forecast to grow at a robust double-digit rate in 2020, supported by:
- increasing installation of DIY irrigation systems
- rising homeownership rates among millennials, who embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and presence of smart technology throughout the home
While basic irrigation controllers – which regulate watering schedules solely based on time – are used in the vast majority of home irrigation systems, smart controllers are rapidly expanding their market share. Smart controllers allow consumers to:
- personalize watering regimens based on their needs, location, weather, and other customizable options
- make watering more efficient based on weather and soil conditions
- operate their controllers remotely
Companies outside of the irrigation industry – such as Rachio and Skydrop – began to launch low-cost, Wi-Fi-enabled irrigation controllers in about 2014, marketing these devices directly to consumers as simple to use and install. As consumer interest in smart home solutions continued to rise, these firms developed value-added versions of their products based on increasingly sophisticated technologies.
For more info on DIY irrigation system controllers and other lawn and garden watering products, see The Freedonia Group’s Lawn & Garden Watering Products.
- Wooden Outdoor Sheds
As outdoor living means bringing indoor comforts outdoors, consumers often use outdoor structures to create an indoor feel outside. According to a recent Freedonia Group study, for example, landscaping structures like arches, arbors, trellises, and pergolas are expected to see good growth in 2020 as a result of their ability to provide shade and boost outdoor area aesthetics. In addition, value-added versions of these structures – such as smart pergolas with automated louvers – continue to come to market.
In particular, wooden outdoor sheds will benefit, as consumers continue to reinvent these structures for novel uses – such as pool houses, she-sheds, and kids’ playhouses. Consumers often go for wooden over vinyl sheds for these applications due to its superior aesthetics and the relative ease with which wood sheds can be customized with roofing, siding, and color options to coordinate with the look of the home.
For more on the US market for sheds and other residential outdoor storage products, see Freedonia’s Sheds & Other Residential Outdoor Storage study.
- Clay Brick Hardscaping
US homeowners generally prefer landscaping designs that are attractive and easy to maintain – particularly given the large average sizes of residential property lots in the country. Hardscaping is an increasingly popular way homeowners can achieve a low-maintenance landscape. In fact, a major trend in drought-prone areas that’s expanding to other regions – particularly among consumers concerned about water usage – is xeriscaping, a hardscape-intensive form of adaptive landscaping.
Among hardscape materials, clay brick is expected to see some of the fastest growth in 2020, supported by its status as a natural, classic, and low-cost material for walkways, retaining walls, and pool and spa areas. In addition:
- Increasing use of clay brick as an alternative permeable hardscape surface to concrete will boost gains, though the lower cost of concrete permeable pavers will lead to continued competition between these materials, particularly among more price-sensitive consumers.
- While installation of concrete bricks designed to resemble clay bricks will also restrict its market size, clay bricks are more competitive in these applications, as concrete brick tends to lack the distinctive earthy red tone of the classic clay brick.
For more on US hardscaping markets, see Freedonia’s Hardscaping Products study.
- Vegetable & Bedding Plants
Interest in gardening is on the rise. In 2019, a Freedonia Group survey found that a majority of consumers enjoy gardening. The popularity of cooking shows and the trend of sharing food photographs on social media have inspired many, especially younger consumers, to start gardens. In particular, edible gardening is an increasingly common activity, motivated by a number of factors, including:
- cutting down on grocery costs
- the enjoyment of growing one’s own food
- the ability to donate food to food shelters or other charitable organizations
- environmental considerations
Accordingly, demand for vegetable bedding and garden plants (e.g., culinary herbs, peppers, tomatoes, and other edible plants; seeds and bulbs are excluded) is forecast to increase at a robust 6.3% rate in 2020, supported by:
- growing popularity of food gardening, particularly among millennials
- expanding consumer interest in sustainability and organic gardening
- increased sales of grafted vegetable plants on rootstock, which can provide more substantial harvests
- further participation in community gardens
- retailer efforts to provide expertise and instruction for consumers looking to undertake a new or more advanced food-growing endeavor
For more insight into the US market for vegetable and other bedding and garden plants, see The Freedonia Group’s report Live Goods: Plants, Trees, & Shrubbery.
Want to Learn More?
See Outdoor Living Products 2020, now available from The Freedonia Group, which highlights key products and trends in each of the following primary outdoor living categories based on data obtained from Freedonia’s most recent lawn and garden studies:
- lawn and yard maintenance
- outdoor cooking, entertaining, and recreation
- outdoor design and landscape materials
The study analyzes the US market for consumer-grade outdoor living products for residential do-it-yourself (DIY) applications, and excludes products intended for professional or commercial use. Data are provided for 2019, 2020, and 2024 for outdoor living products at the manufacturers’ level in current dollars (i.e., not adjusted to account for inflation). Values do not take into account retail markups.
About the Author:
Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.