The demand for professional lawn care services is booming, which is good news for marketers of pesticides and fertilizers used by lawn care operators (LCOs). Younger households in the United States are increasingly inclined to hire gardening, lawn care, and landscape maintenance professionals, resulting in a paradigm shift in the landscaping industry, after the downturn witnessed during the economic recession. However, a wide gap has emerged in the demand and supply of skilled labor in the industry in recent years, as the total number of lawn, landscaping, and groundskeeping workers fell – for example – from 913,480 in 2018 to 912,660 in 2019. While the overall demand for pesticides and fertilizers has increased – with sales rising by 2.9% per annum to over $500MM in 2021 – there has been a decided change in products usage:
- Fertilizers, while still the largest product purchased by LCOs, have declined in sales by 2.2% per annum since our last market survey in 2013; annual sales in 2021 are $30MM lower than they were in 2013.
- Conversely, sales of plant growth regulators have experienced robust growth, with per annum increases of 22.3%.
Both the decline in fertilizers and rise in plant growth regulators serve the same goal – reduce lawn growth to save on service provision and frequency, and help mitigate the impact of fewer workers and rising wages and operating costs.
Other treatment products driving the resurgence of the pesticides and fertilizers market include nematicides and fungicides, both growing much faster than the average growth rate. Rising sales of insecticides are a result of public concern about mosquitoes and ticks that transmit disease, along with the introduction of newer, more expensive insecticides. Nematicides benefitted from the introduction of bio-nematicides, which are reasonably effective and available to LCOs.
In Kline’s market study Professional Turf & Ornamental Market for Pesticides and Fertilizer, detailed data and insights are provided on consumption of pesticides and fertilizers by LCOs and other end-user segments. Other noteworthy developments covered in the past decade include:
- Online buying of pesticides and fertilizer has proliferated, and delivery has become common. This has changed access to pesticides for small- and mid-sized operators who can compare prices and order a broader selection of product needs online.
- Large home improvement centers, like Home Depot, Menards, and Lowe’s, have increased the availability of reasonably large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides at reasonable prices to small- and medium-sized operators. Large manufacturers like John Deere Lesco are also making products available at home improvement retailers.
- Since 2013, the availability of generic products in this market has surged. House brands from distributors, generic producers, and specialist manufacturers have greatly increased the number and spectrum of competitive products in the marketplace.
- All of these trends have reduced the influence of large ag distributors and increased the use of consumer brands by LCOs.
- Significant new pests have arrived, changing pest pressures. Some regional pests, like emerald ash borer, oak wilt, spotted lantern fly, Japanese stiltgrass, ticks, and mosquitoes, have increased the demand for lawn and landscape professionals to control them.
Kline’s Professional Turf & Ornamental Market for Pesticides and Fertilizer is a comprehensive, independent appraisal of market size and segmentation, application methods, products used and costs, and market trends. Coverage includes both chemical and biologically based products, and the market is segmented into landscape contractors, horticultural nurseries and greenhouses, lawn care, institutional turf, turf farms, and golf courses. This report, based on hundreds of structured surveys, will be published in July. For more details about the study and how our Agrichemicals practice can help inform your business decisions, contact us.