The hottest outdoor design trends are landscape features for relaxing and entertaining, the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey found. Sustainable and low-maintenance designs are in demand. The landscape architects surveyed rated gardens and designed landscapes as most popular, outdoor living spaces such as kitchens and entertainment spaces a close second, and outdoor recreation in third.
Landscaping features like lighting, gas fire pits, grills, decorative water features and installed seating are all desirable, as are low-maintenance landscapes and food and vegetable gardens.
Low Maintenance Landscapes and Gardens
The landscape design elements people want most include drought-tolerant and native plants. They also want fruit and vegetable gardens to reduce environmental impact and do double duty as food sources. Plants that can both withstand and compliment the local climate without much attention are key, while edible plantings are a bonus. The trend of residential agriculture is also part of the growing homesteading movement.
Fruit and vegetable gardens, orchards, xeriscaping (landscaping that reduces the need for additional water), and rain gardens that help divert runoff and overflow water are also popular. Landscape professionals across the country agree that water use is a big trend for 2014 — whether creating water features or to save water in drought-prone areas.
Even limited budgets can accommodate some of the hottest new trends, according to Mary McCoy of MoneyCrashers. Easy-maintenance ground covers and perennials offer low cost and low maintenance landscape design without a big cash outlay.
Outdoor Living Spaces
Quality, natural materials and sustainable design with elements of relaxation are hot trends in landscaping, too. Lighting, seated dining areas, gas fire pits and fireplaces were the most popular features for outdoor living spaces, including outdoor kitchen and dining areas and outdoor rooms for specific purposes.
With more consumers staying close to home, National Hardware Show predicted at the end of 2013 that outdoor living spaces would be popular in 2014 as people slowly start spending again on landscaping. Fire pits, comfortable seating, high-end and portable grills and outdoor kitchen spaces for dining and entertaining are trends this year.
Outdoor Recreation Amenities
Popular decorative water elements include ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels and bubblers. Recreational water features such as spas and hot tubs, as well as whirlpools, saunas, and swimming pools are trendy as homeowners try to get double duty out of any investment in outdoor improvements. Part of this trend, according to TurfDesignBuild.com’s Tom Crain is that Millennials want to get as much out of their backyards and landscapes as possible.