Outdoor Landscaping Trends for 2014

In the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey, landscape architects who specialize in residential design rated the expected popularity of outdoor design elements. The survey found that, from eye-catching gardens to outdoor living rooms, more and more homeowners are finding ways to utilize their outside spaces.

Outdoor Living
Those impeccable green lawns are falling out of favor, garnering a rating of only 54.0 percent. In 2014, turf will be dug up and replaced with gardens and landscaped spaces; with a score of 94.2 percent, landscape architects believed well-designed gardens would be most popular. The trend of combining indoor with outdoor living should also continue, as outdoor living spaces—including kitchens and entertaining spaces—came in second with 92.0 percent. Many homeowners just wanted to have fun in their backyards; outdoor recreation spaces scored 75.8 percent.

Lights, Seats, and Fire
Whether they’re installing a lounge or a decorative garden in their backyards, homeowners wanted that space well-lit. When asked which backyard features would prove most popular in 2014, the landscape architects surveyed almost unanimously agreed on lighting; it received a rating of 98.3 percent. Seating and dining areas were also on the radar of most architects, with a 97.7 percent rating. Grills have always been a staple of outdoor spaces, and with a rating of 94.3 percent, they will continue to be. But it seems fire pits and fireplaces are gaining in popularity, with a score of 95.4 percent on the survey.

Peace and Quiet
Movie theaters and large-screen TVs might be on trend indoors, but most homeowners craved a little more tranquility in their backyards. Outdoor movie and TV theaters only scored 42.3 percent in the survey; meanwhile, decorative elements—like ornamental pools, waterfalls, and bubblers—scored 86.1 percent. Spa features, like hot tubs and saunas, are more popular than swimming pools; the two rated a 76.4 and a 73.8, respectively.

In the Garden Bed
More homeowners would rather spend their weekends enjoying their backyards than maintaining them. Low-maintenance landscapes came in first in the landscape category with a high 95.4 percent. In keeping with the low-maintenance trend, finicky exotic plants are out and native ones are in; with a score of 84.5 percent, landscape architects expected to plant more native perennials in 2014. Meanwhile, the ultimate in low-maintenance gardens—xeriscaping and dry gardens—rated 69.1 percent in the popularity survey.

Easy Being Green
With droughts lingering on in many areas of the country, water conservation is at the forefront of homeowners’ minds. Native and adapted drought-tolerant plants proved popular in the survey, with an 88.0 percent rating. Drip and water-efficient irrigation scored 84.5 percent, and sewer system-friendly permeable paving rated 78.9 percent.

Lounging in the Shade
When the survey asked about outdoor structures, places to lounge trumped privacy; structured terraces, patios and decks came in tops with 97.7 percent, while fencing scored an 88.5 percent. Shade in summer is always important, but landscape designers favored one delivery method over another. Pergolas proved the most popular, with a rating of 82.8 percent, while awnings only scored a 47.7 percent.