Hearth & Home August 2017

Five Tempest Torches by Travis Industries.

Upgrading Outdoor Spaces

By Erin Carlyle, Houzz

A survey by Houzz sheds light on the costs, location, motivation, rationale and products involved in projects that enhance an outdoor lifestyle.

If you’re thinking about upgrading your outdoor spaces and would like to get a sense of cost and timelines, what follows is some information that should help you.

The 2017 U.S. Houzz Landscape Trends Study, fielded in February and March 2017, reflects the responses of 977 registered U.S. Houzz users who own homes, completed an outdoor project in the past 12 months, were working on one, or plan to start one in the next three months.

It reveals how homeowners are currently updating their yards, how much they are spending and what upgrades are popular.

Spend on Completed Outdoor Projects
Spend on Completed Outdoor Projects
Figure 1.

Figure 1. How much people spend.

As with all renovations and home projects, costs can range widely, depending on the work done and the labor costs in the location where the project takes place. That said, the results of the survey reveal some interesting price trends. The most common level of spending for an outdoor project is between $1,001 and $5,000, the survey found. A total spend of $1,000 or less is the second most common price level. Before you get too overjoyed at these price tags, it’s worth noting that many of the lowest price tags are, not surprisingly, for smaller projects. A total of 73% of minor outdoor projects came in at $5,000 or less. Projects categorized as minor involve smaller-scale work such as mulching, minor planting and painting.

In comparison, only 23% of projects categorized as complete overhauls – involving work such as re-grading, terracing and re-landscaping – fall into that price range.

Fifteen percent of people spent more than $50,000 on their outdoor projects, and many of those projects were complete overhauls.

Outdoor Project Location
Outdoor Project Location
Figure 2.

Figure 2. What people care about most.

When it comes to investing in their outdoor spaces, the majority of homeowners (69%) with outdoor projects are tackling their backyards. But a sizable percentage – 44% – are focusing on their front yards. (Some are doing multiple projects.)

Top Events Triggering Outdoor Projects
Top Events Triggering Outdoor Projects
Figure 3.

Figure 3. Motivations for tackling outdoor projects.

Homeowners surveyed say that purchasing a home and wanting to make it their own was the No. 1 reason they wanted to address their outdoor spaces. Wanting to address components of the outdoor space that were past their prime came in a close second. A quarter or more of survey respondents say they had wanted to do the project all along and finally had either the time or the money.

Average Number of Months of Outdoor Project Planning and Implementing by Project Scope
Months of Outdoor Project Planning
Figure 4.

Figure 4. How long does it take?

When it comes to completing an outdoor improvement project, the planning time varies significantly, depending on how big the project is. Among survey respondents, minor projects involved an average of just over three months of planning and three months of implementation. The biggest projects, which we refer to as complete overhauls, averaged slightly more than six months to plan and just over 5 ½ months to implement.

Major projects include substantial updates such as paving, putting in new beds, building or upgrading structures, or both. But they don’t reach the level of complete overhauls, which include work such as re-landscaping and re-terracing.

Outdoor Usage
Outdoor Usage
Figure 5.

Figure 5. Now we can relax.

Two-thirds of homeowners with outdoor projects are using their outdoor spaces for relaxing, the study found. Over half garden, while 40% are using outdoor spaces for entertaining.

New Outdoor Living Elements in Outdoor Projects
New Outdoor Living Elements
in Outdoor Projects
Figure 6.

Figure 6. We need furniture to do it.

All that relaxing requires some comfy furniture, and owners tackling those outdoor projects tend to acquire outdoor lounge furniture for the cause.

Top Updated Outdoor Structural Elements
Top Updated Outdoor Structural Elements
Figure 7.

Figure 7. Structures and sheds get love, too.

Many homeowners are choosing to work on outdoor structures during their outdoor projects, with 39% upgrading patios or terraces, and more than a quarter updating their arbors, gazebos, pergolas or trellises.

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