Q1 2023 Plant Cost Trends & Impact on Landscaper Profit Margins
Amidst fears of a slowdown and high input costs, 2023 can be a challenging year for budgeting and maintaining landscaper profit margins – especially for contracts awarded 1-2 years ago. Understanding the plant material demand and cost trends across categories such as trees, perennials, shrubs, palms, and conifers can help improve your profit margins. Not sure where to get this data? We’ve got you covered! Check out our analysis below to get pricing-based insights on our best-selling material in Q1 of 2023. You can click on the links below to jump to Canada or Southeast USA sections.
Southeast USA Trends
Canada Plant Cost Trends
As per our analysis, prices for many plant categories have seen a correction after consecutive years of price increases. The cost of trees, for example, decreased by and average of 4% across all sizes for best-selling specimen trees. Check out our analysis of each plant category below to estimate how it impacts landscaper profit margins.
On average, plant costs for the most popular perennials have slightly decreased in Q1 2023 vs last year, averaging -5% in price for all sizes. Prices for certain varieties in smaller pot sizes have increased however. For instance, the price for the 1L Achillea Millefolium increased by 5%.
|Best-Selling Perennials||Size||Price Change (%)|
While perennials are trending down on average, the price of conifers has roughly increased by 10% YoY when considering the most popular sizes. For example, the highest price increases for both Picea Glauca and Pinus Strobus are for the 200-centimeter sizes, at 10% and 17% respectively. For Larix Laricina, 200-centimeter varieties may not be the highest, but are still selling at 21% higher prices.
|Best-Selling Conifers||Size||Price Change (%)|
|Larix Laricina||150cm Height||6%|
|Picea Glauca||150cm Height||14%|
|Pinus Strobus||150cm Height||4%|
Landscaping trees are the most interesting category in our analysis, with a drop in their prices after consecutive years of growth. As explained in our post last year, 40mm to 70mm trunk diameter sizes have been the most popular in recent years, with a 10%-15% increase in their prices in 2022. However, midway through Q1-2023, prices for the same sizes have either remained the same or dropped by at least 10%. Across the top-selling trees, 30MM Acer X Freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ is the only variety selling at 25% higher tree costs.
|Best-Selling Trees||Size||Price Change (%)|
|Celtis Occidentalis||50mm Caliper||-10%|
|Ulmus Davidiana Var. Japonica ‘Morton’||50mm Caliper||-23%|
|Acer X Freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’||50mm Caliper||-18%|
Interestingly, shrubs in Canada have exhibited volatility in their plant cost. This pattern has made it difficult to draw any meaningful conclusion about its impact on landscaper profit margins, but we will be keeping a close eye on present plant cost trends in the coming quarters.
Southeast USA Plant Cost Trends
A consistent theme across all plant material categories in the Southeast USA seems to be a decline in plant cost. This drop in material prices has opened opportunities to increase landscaper profit margins. Read on to learn more about our analysis of each category below.
Palms have exhibited diverse changes in price in Q1 2023. Similar to Canadian shrubs, the palm’s inconsistent changes in pricing makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact root of the change. We have noticed that Sabal Palmettos have fallen out of demand (-35% YoY) and the Ptychosperma Elegans have increased in presence on orders (+55% YoY); trends both reflected in their respective price changes.
|Best-Selling Palms||Size||Price Change (%)|
|Sabal Palmetto||12’ Clear Trunk||-4%|
|16’ Clear Trunk||-9%|
|Ptychosperma Elegans||12’ Clear Trunk||-43%|
|14’ Clear Trunk||+12%|
While the perennials season is only getting started, their prices have not dropped across the board. Partial recovery from the plant shortage and more diversification can be some of the factors responsible for the early trends. As we approach Q3, we will be better able to provide a clearer picture of what this means for landscaper profit margins.
|Best-selling Perennials||Size||Price Change (%)|
|Liriope Muscari ‘Big Blue’||1G||-2%|
|Liriope Muscari ‘Super Blue’||1G||-1%|
|Dianella Tasmanica ‘Variegata’||1G||0%|
As the outlier across categories, shrubs offer some insight into the effect diversification tends to have on plant costs. For example, Wax Myrtle, a regular best-seller has been displaced by Clusia Guttifera, perhaps due to their greater availability and lower costs. More innovative swaps such as Clusia Guttifera can ensure greater landscaper profit margins as the year progresses.
|Best-Selling Shrubs||Size||Price Change (%)|
|Ficus Microcarpa ‘Green Island’||3 Gallon Pot||+7%|
|Chrysobalanus Icaco ‘Red Tip’||3 Gallon Pot||+14%|
|7 Gallon Pot||+13%|
|Clusia Guttifera||7 Gallon Pot||+3%|
Consolidation in the tree selection preferences seems to be the only indication of any impact of a slowdown for landscaping trees. Order volumes for all best-selling trees grew by 20%-40% in Q1 2023. Another noticeable trend in the tree category is Acer Rubrum falling out from the best-selling list. A drop in the prices for Myrcianthes Fragrans and an inclination towards hardy and native ecosystems may have helped change the pattern.
|Best-Selling Trees||Size||Price Change (%)|
|Myrcianthes Fragrans||3 Gallon Pot||+9%|
|7 Gallon Pot||-7%|
|15 Gallon Pot||-17%|
|Quercus Virginiana||2” Caliper||-1%|
|Elaeocarpus Decipiens||30 Gallon Pot||+8%|
|45 Gallon Pot||-9%|
Keeping Up with Plant Costs for Greater Landscaper Profit Margins
Landscaping is a hardy industry not unlike the plant materials used for many landscape construction jobs. However, it’s not untouched by macroeconomic trends. As slowdown concerns mount, landscaping businesses need to keep a closer eye on the material they have already committed to procuring. Working with a professional procurement team such as GoMaterials can be a great way to ensure you capitalize on opportunities to increase landscaper profit margins!
Are you researching prices for an upcoming job? We can help! Send in your plant list to our sourcing experts to get the best estimate from hundreds of nursery partners.