As the days grow longer and warmer and retailers open garden centers and roll out patio displays, it’s that time of year when homeowners, and even renters, start planning, plotting and planting.
The hottest landscape design trends this spring reflect the desire to bring the indoors out – to create comfortable landscapes that are both functional and beautiful – and find ways to connect with nature.
Outdoor rooms and fully customized living spaces top the trend list for 2016, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). But there’s also renewed interest in sustainable landscapes that support the environment and natural ecosystems, says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NALP.
1. Fully Customized Outdoor Living Spaces
Backyard entertaining used to revolve around a deck, patio or pool, but today’s landscapes have become extensions of interior spaces, complete with furniture, appliances and romantic canopy bedrooms. Comfortable living and dining rooms with weatherproof furnishings, built-in bars, brick ovens and fireplaces, even outdoor movie theaters, are transforming the way people enjoy the outdoors.
Themed spaces also are on the rise, and a hot trend is to decorate with whimsical and personalized pieces, anything from a child’s tricycle to old fishing gear to English country or French bistro accents, to reflect various interests and life stages, Henriksen says.
“One of the key things that we’re seeing is people really wanting to enjoy their outdoor living environment,” she says. “But they want things that will make their outdoor area unique, that personalization that’s different than their neighbors.”
2. Lighted and High-Tech Landscapes
Installing solar-powered lighting or energy-efficient LED lights is another way landscapes are going green. LED lighting has made it much more feasible to add creative and functional light displays in gardens and along walkways. Backyard Wi-Fi, TV and audio systems, which can be monitored and controlled via technology, are other ways outdoor landscapes are going high-tech in 2016.
“You can control landscape lighting via your iPad and create different moods,” says David Marciniak, owner/lead designer of Revolutionary Gardens in Culpeper, Virginia. “LED has given a lot more flexibility to lighting because you’re only pulling 2 or 3 watts per fixture.”
3. Eco-Friendly and Native Gardens
Native plants help attract birds, insects and wildlife, but they also help manage rainwater runoff, stop the spread of invasive species and support the larger ecosystem. Naturescaping encourages the use of perennial native plants and grasses to design environmentally conscious landscapes.
“I’ve been floored in the amount of interest I’ve had in that in the last two years,” Marciniak says. “I am seeing so much interest in native plantings and everything that goes along with that, trying to be true to the site and the area along with trying to be true to pollinators and the birds.”
One thing that has helped is an increase in the number of suppliers for native plants in his area, Marciniak says, and some parts of the country offer rebates and other incentives to plant native species to help with stormwater management.
4. Edible Landscapes
Pots of fresh herbs, lettuce and other easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables add texture and color variety to outdoor landscapes. Along with being more environmentally conscious, people also want to know where their food comes from and, in many cases, have taken up growing their own. Container gardens and portable living wall planter systems, which take up less space and require less care, make it easier for those with space and time constraints and provide a supply of fresh ingredients right out the back door.
“It’s a way for people to enjoy their outdoor space and that connection to nature and herbs taste a little fresher and better when you’ve had the satisfaction of actually growing them,” Henriksen says.
“It doesn’t matter the size of your outdoor space. You can create beautiful and functional container gardens on a patio or balcony.”
5. Freshwater Features
Along with attracting wildlife, freshwater features like ponds, fountains and waterfalls create a soothing environment to relax and escape or drown out noise from neighbors. Birds and other critters appreciate freshwater sources, but they also are necessary to manage or recycle stormwater. Thoughtful inclusion of rain barrels, rain gardens and stone retaining walls add visual variety and dimension to lush landscapes, while serving to collect, clean or stop water. In fact, water and other non-plant features, including sculptures or pottery, are becoming focal points in landscapes, according to NALP.
6. Soothing Hues
The color of flowers, furniture and accessories will complement the colors found in nature and help create a soothing, outdoor oasis this year. For the first time, Pantone, the authority on color, has announced the blending of two colors – Rose Quartz and Serenity – as its Pantone Color of the Year for 2016. These soft, nature-inspired pink and blue hues will bloom in gardens this year as heritage rose bushes, Catherine Woodbury daylilies, Angelique tulips, blue lace delphinium, French hydrangea and others, Henricksen says.
Whether you are starting from scratch or want to redo a mature landscape, have a large backyard or a small patio or deck, the good news is beautifying your outdoor space is within reach regardless of budget. There is a wide selection of outdoor furniture and plants at a variety of price points, Marciniak says.
“What I’m finding more and more is people are looking for a great space and asking ‘how can we use this in the most effective way?’” he says. “It’s exciting and there’s some really, really cool stuff happening and getting people excited to go outside. All of a sudden you have these beautiful outdoor spaces at a variety of price points and income levels.”
The NALP, a professional member organization and voice of the landscape industry, crafts its annual forecast based on current consumer demands and lifestyle trends, in addition to considering broader horticultural, architectural and design factors.
The website, LoveYourLandscape.org, offers a variety of resources, articles and information on finding your landscape style, plant and tree selection, ideas for backyard living and hiring a professional in your area.
© CTW Features