A survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects suggests that homeowners may be looking for ways to spend more time outdoors, but less of that time on maintenance.
ASLA surveyed over 800 landscape architects about single-family and multifamily trends they expect to be popular this year. Many of the most popular features architects named relieve homeowners (or professionals) of maintenance responsibilities.
Similarly, a Houzz study of over 750 homeowners released in April found that two-thirds of respondents spend more time outdoors after completing a landscaping project and were more likely to spend that time relaxing than gardening.
Native and drought-tolerant plant installations are at the top of architects list of expected projects, ASLA found, followed closely by low-maintenance landscapes. Respondents expect lawns to get smaller and for multipurpose areas to become more popular.
Especially in multifamily housing, architects expect to see outdoor areas that are designed to facilitate various activities, like yoga and movie nights.
Respondents seem confident that water issues are not lost on homeowners. In addition to the high interest in drought-tolerant plants, almost three-quarters of architects said they expected permeable pavers to be the most popular landscape and garden feature this year. Over 71% of architects expect more requests about rain gardens, and nearly 69% pointed to rainwater and graywater harvesting as popular trends.
Fewer than half of architects surveyed expect to get requests for water features like pools or fountains, and just 29% expect ponds and streams to be popular.
Creating a usable space that can be enjoyed year-round is also top of mind. The Houzz study found 38% of homeowners added a fire pit and 14% opted for a heater, while 15% installed a ceiling fan.
Two-thirds of architects in the ASLA survey said firepits would retain the top spot as the most popular outdoor design element, and over 40% expect heaters to be popular. Over a quarter said they expect to install fans and other outdoor cooling systems.
The Houzz study surveyed homeowners who were currently redesigning their landscaping, planning a landscaping project, or had recently completed a project. It found that over half of respondents spent more than $10,000 on their project.
[Related: Outdoor kitchens grow in popularity]
Interest wavers in technology features
Although over 70% of architects in last year’s ASLA survey put extending wireless networks to outdoor areas in their top 10 projects, this year’s survey grouped wireless and internet connectivity with other AV systems, like outdoor theatres and stereo systems. Just 48% of respondents expect those projects to be popular among homeowners in 2018.
However, given the popularity of charging stations for mobile devices (70% of respondents expect to see a lot of those this year), wireless connectivity may be in higher demand than expected.
The Houzz survey of homeowners suggests technology upgrades aren’t as popular as we might think. Less than 20% of homeowners upgraded their outdoor entertainment system in a recent project (and of those, most were to add a new television or speakers). Just 10% of homeowners said they added wired or solar charging stations.