The patio is open—How COVID-19 spurred patio redesigns

After six months stuck in their houses, homeowners are eager to make changes
Homeowners are spending more time at home and making the most of it. (Photo: Bluebird Design & Landscape)

“After about a month or so, it seemed like everyone understood what was going on and [knew their job was] stable. They were able to reinvest and go back into their mindset of, ‘Okay, we want to do this project out here,’” Moede said. “That’s when everything started to really pick up for us and started going gangbusters.”

Mark Adamson, CEO of Pioneer Landscape Centers, pointed out that economically, the pandemic has divided society in two.

“Those that are fortunate enough to have their jobs, that work out of an office, or that can continue to work, are pretty much okay. Their 401(k)s will bounce back, they have an income, and they’re looking to invest in their houses,” he said. “The money they’re investing [in their homes] is money that they’re not spending on travel and vacations.”

That has had a positive impact on builders, too. In August, stock prices for large builders like Lennar and Meritage exceeded their pre-financial crisis highs. 

“I wouldn’t want to own [cruise] stocks or stocks in hotel chains at the moment, but being in that landscape space, being in that residential builder space, is the place to be at the moment,” Adamson said, adding that he expects the trend to continue. “I think people have kind of fallen back in love with their property.”

Pioneer Landscape Centers serves small to medium contractors, and does some retail business. Adamson said that Pioneer has seen a 25% increase in sales, but he attributed it only partially to COVID-19. Quarantining during the pandemic accelerated a longer-term trend that had been taking shape, with outdoor spaces “increasingly vying” for homeowners’ dollars when it comes to remodeling.

“The increase in our revenue is across the board, so I think people are doing more DIY, there’s no doubt,” Adamson said. “There’s been an undoubted tick-up in the footfall from our retail customers. … Having spent time in the garden, they’ve got a bit of a brainstorm as to what they can do and have invested in some fairly significant upgrades.”

However, Pioneer was acquired five years ago by JLL Partners, a private equity firm where Adamson is also a partner, because they saw an “increasing proportion of investment in outdoor space” in the long term, he said.

Room without a roof

Outdoor living designs have been getting more elaborate, extending the home out into the yard, for years. The pandemic has exacerbated that trend, as homeowners try to create more usable space in their homes for working, playing and homeschooling.

[Related: Great, wide, open: Bringing the great outdoors to homeowners’ doorsteps]

“We saw a major jump in TV installations (up 239%), and demand for home media professionals on Houzz is up 66% year-over-year,” Hausman noted. “That said, we cannot specify whether those projects were related to outdoor versus indoor areas. High-tech upgrades to outdoor living spaces have been relatively stable in recent years, so it’ll be interesting to see whether that trend takes off during the pandemic.” 

Editor’s note: This article has been amended to correct a misstatement by Mark Adamson.

Danielle Andrus

Danielle Andrus is the managing editor of Colorado Builder. She can be reached at [email protected].

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