Design-Build: Building Your Winter Backlog - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Design-Build: Building Your Winter Backlog

Photo: Creative Roots Landscaping

If you’ve already got a fair amount of landscaping jobs scheduled for the spring, it can be tempting to coast through the winter months. However, with the ongoing supply chain issues, building your winter backlog can help with securing materials in advance.

For some companies, the demand for custom residential landscapes doesn’t slow down, regardless of the season. This is the case for Creative Roots Landscaping, based in British Columbia, Canada. Owner Ryan Markewich says they have been in business for almost 3 decades and are always putting emphasis on being the best they can for our clients, staff and community so the jobs pretty much all come pre-sold. He says by the winter all their spring slots are already taken.

“We have enough work in progress now to keep our teams working solidly until early July,” Markewich says.

Joe Markell, LIC, owner of Sunrise Landscape + Design, says generally selling jobs in the winter is harder as people’s focus has changed and they’re spending money on other things around Christmas.

“Sometimes after the Christmas season they’ll come back to it but generally that’s an issue,” Markell says. “I wish we could convince clients to do more planning in the winter that would help us a lot, especially these early spring ones who are like, ‘Oh, we want to put in a pool and we wanted to use it by May 1.’”

Markell says while they don’t do extra marketing during the winter, they will still do their normal marketing posts.

“We will focus on our SEO a little bit more and our website if we need to revamp so we’ll be focused on those kinds of marketing things, but we’re not doing any extra marketing,” Markell says.

Photo: Creative Roots Landscaping

Creative Roots currently has a design backlog of three months and an installation backlog of six months. Sunrise Landscape + Design has a current backlog of three weeks as they’ve been able to catch up at the end of the year. Markell says they have had to push more projects into next year than usual. Their typical backlog is one to two months.

“Sometimes that’s longer,” Markell says. “This year’s been a challenge with getting materials. We’ve had jobs for six months, just because we’re waiting on materials.”

Markell and Markewich both say that they’re trying to get more projects booked this winter to help with material ordering. Both require a deposit before going about securing materials for the project.

“We need to know the commitment is strong so we can allocate our resources and turn down or work around other opportunities that come our way,” Markewich says.

Markewich says their nursery is used solely for their projects so large caliper and specimen plant material has been brought in already and their shrubs, perennials and grasses order has been placed and will arrive in early April.

“As for other materials, we will certainly be sourcing them as far in advance and during the design process as possible,” Markewich says.

Markell says customers have been understanding about delays caused by materials to a degree, but they’ve also lost jobs due to customers not wanting to pursue projects with the supply chain issues. He says inflation has also been scaring some clients off who want to wait for the price of materials to go down, especially for larger projects.

“I’m not so sure that’s going to come down back to those levels,” Markell says. “I tell people, ‘Look if you want to try to enjoy it, you need to just pull the trigger and get it done because who knows what’s going to happen. If you got the money, I say do it and enjoy it. Don’t worry about it.’”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.