ASLA 2015 Professional Award of Excellence, Residential Design Category. Cedar Creek by Hocker Design Group. Photo: Hocker Design Group, Robert Yu, Justin Clemons
The popularity of outdoor living spaces among consumers continues to grow; that we know. And with water conservation and the future of water resources on the minds of many in the nation, there's also growing awareness of and commitment to reducing water use among consumers in their homes and gardens. A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) to discover the leading trends in residential outdoor design bears this out, finding that rainwater/graywater harvesting is a top trend among homeowners who increasingly seek residential landscapes that are both beautiful and minimize water use and stormwater runoff.
The survey, conducted from Feb. 4 through Feb. 18, 2016, gathered responses from 803 participants who were asked to rate the expected popularity in 2016 of various residential outdoor design elements. The results indicate that consumers seek outdoor living spaces that are environmentally sustainable, reduce water use/costs, and are easy to maintain. The top five project types that landscape architects anticipate will be most in demand by consumers in 2016 are:
1. Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 88 percent
2. Native plants – 86 percent
3. Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants – 85 percent
4. Low-maintenance landscapes – 85 percent
5. Permeable paving – 77 percent
Other project types in the top 10 list incude: fire pits/fireplaces, food/vegetable gardens, rain gardens, drip/water-efficient irrigation, and reduced lawn areas.
With sustainabiity leading the trends, the top 10 sustainable elements, ranked in order of popularity for 2016, are: rainwater/graywater harvesting (88 percent), native/adapted drought tolerant plants (85 percent), permeable paving (77 percent), drip/water-efficient irrigation (72 percent), reduced lawn area (72 percent), recycled materials (61 percent), solar-powered lights (56 percent), compost bins (45 percent)
Top five results for other survey categories:
Outdoor design elements: fire pits/fireplaces (75 percent), lighting (67 percent), wireless/Internet connectivity (66 percent), seating/dining areas (64 percent), outdoor furniture (63 percent).
Outdoor structures: pergolas (51 percent), decks (47 percent), arbors (44 percent), fencing (44 percent), porches (40 percent), ADA accessible structures—ramps, bars, shelving, etc. (38 percent).
Outdoor recreation amenities: sports courts—tennis, bocce, etc. (41 percent), spa features—hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, indoor/outdoor saunas (40 percent), and swimming pools (36 percent).
Landscape and garden elements: native plants (86 percent), low-maintenance landscapes (85 percent), food/vegetable gardens—including orchards, vineyards, etc. (75 percent), rain gardens (73 percent), water-saving xeriscape or dry gardens (68 percent).