Courtesy of Peter Hughes Landscape

Calgary is still stuck in the throes of winter, but many homeowners are already planning their landscape projects for 2021 to ensure they have an outdoor space to enjoy this summer.

Alison Atherton, co-owner of Project Landscape, says there was a sudden surge in demand for landscaping work last summer, as many Calgarians scrambled to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions and more time spent at home.

“The idea was to create resort-style living, some sort of oasis in your backyard to enjoy while you are stuck at home,” says Atherton. “We heard time and time again that people were taking their holiday money and putting it into their backyard.”

This year, Calgarians looking to revamp their outdoor spaces for another pandemic summer should start early.

“If I were a homeowner, I would target that March 1st to 15th period to contact a contractor and get the wheels in motion,” said Peter Hughes, founder of Peter Hughes Landscape. “It typically takes a good six weeks to put a project together on paper.”

“We heard time and time again that people were taking their holiday money and putting it into their backyard.” – Alison Atherton, Project Landscape

Hughes says that includes time for the homeowner to seek referrals from friends and family, as well as interview prospective companies.

He adds that last year there were shortages of building materials – including some wood products, pre-cast concrete blocks and certain plant materials – which makes it even more important to get the planning process underway.

“There was even a run on certain species of trees last year and that will have an effect on whether a homeowner can access exactly what they want,” he said.

Once planning is complete, Hughes says a reputable company should be able to provide an estimated start date based on reasonable weather, “but always with the disclaimer that it is weather depending. Our whole landscaping schedule is based on weather, first and foremost.”

Courtesy of Project Landscape

Atherton says getting an early start on project planning is a homeowner’s best bet for landscaping success, but there is always the chance that a late-summer project can still be booked and completed.

“Depending on the size of your job, sometimes those can be done in between jobs where we’re waiting for material or for permits,” she said, adding that companies also beef up their staffing levels during the summer to handle demand.

For anyone considering a do-it-yourself landscape project this summer, the materials shortages seen at some home improvement stores last year might also call for a sense of urgency.

Lowe’s Canada spokesperson Valerie Gonzalo says many people were investing in home renovations last year, which put pressure on a supply side that was already struggling to keep up amid COVID-19 work safety protocols.

Gonzalo says Lowe’s has been working very closely with its suppliers to meet the needs of customers in 2021, but “customers should try to plan their order ahead of time given the current situation.”