Trends in Outdoor Living

Bringing Indoor Living Outside
Trends in Outdoor Living
The Bruce Company

Fully Customized Outdoor Living Spaces

Beyond basic decks and patios, more backyards will feature full-service kitchens with brick ovens and grills. Some families are even creating themed spaces, such as yoga gardens or bocce fields, to further personalize their outdoor recreation areas.

Going Green

The 2017 Pantone Color of the Year is called Greenery. It’s been described as “nature’s neutral,” a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors.” So, if you’re looking for a trendy color palette, greens are in.

Low Maintenance, Please

Homeowners are looking for landscape designs that don’t require a lot of precious weekend time to maintain. In many cases that means designing yards that have less grass to mow and installing more container gardens, which eliminate tilling and weeding.

Efficient Irrigation

Whether they’re simply frugal or are subject to restrictive local water ordinances, more homeowners are shopping for smarter, more-efficient watering systems. With “drip irrigation,” you can deliver water at or near the plants’ root zones with greater efficiency, for healthier plants and outstanding water savings.

Freshwater Features

Rain barrels, rain gardens, and stone retaining-walls add dimension to landscapes, while collecting and/or cleaning rainwater.

Permeable Paving

Patios, driveways, pool decks and walkways can all be designed to minimize wastewater runoff. Permeable paving stones are an efficient and attractive solution, allowing ambient water to return to the soil.

Mixing Materials

Mixing and matching hardscape materials like pebble paths, stone planters, and wood decks lends a variety of colors and textures to landscapes.

Bees, Birds and Butterflies

Incorporating native plants that encourage pollinators is an increasingly popular interest of homeowners.

More Resilient Grass

The National Association of Landscape Professionals says cultivated grass varieties that are specifically bred to withstand drought will be the next big thing.

Durable Furniture

New upholstery fabrics made from acrylic are both fade-resistant and waterproof, which helps fabric-covered chairs and benches look great, regardless of exposure to weather.

Lighted and High-tech Landscapes

Dramatic lights in a variety of colors, twinkling lights to accent walkways, backyard Wi-Fi and TV installations–these are just some of the ways gardens are going high-tech. For energy-efficient lighting solutions, try solar-powered lighting or energy-efficient LED lights.

Your Own Farmer’s Market

Edible landscapes can be beautiful, organic and delicious. Herbs, fruits and vegetables add texture and color to backyard garden spaces, while providing a seasonal, healthy bounty. Blended gardens that incorporate edible plants and ornamental varieties do double duty, giving gardeners fresh produce as well as a fresh look–and can be a great alternative to turf grass.

Chris Sina, a landscape architect with The Bruce Company, is involved in reimagining a client’s outdoor environment from initial brainstorming to final installation. First, he meets with potential customers to discuss proposed landscaping enhancements, based on how they wish to use or improve their outdoor space. He then works with in-house design staff to create a unique landscape plan. Sina presents his recommendations to the client and incorporates revisions to meet the project goals within the given budget. Sina also assists in oversight of the construction process. If any concerns arise during installation, he manages changes in the field.

“We’re a one-stop shop–we do it all,” he says. “The nice thing for customers is they have one contact person throughout the entire project. That streamlines communication on both sides and makes the whole process smoother.”

Sina says he works on landscaping projects of any size, and that clients are often surprised when they realize that even a small investment can have a big impact. His basic projects include refreshing the plantings around a house by removing overgrown foliage and older plants, and updating the style of the landscaping, creating a fresh look with new shrubs and perennials.

“We try to keep flower bloom times, fall colors, and winter interest in mind so there is something interesting going on in your landscaping all year round,” he says. “The nice thing about perennials is that they bloom for a short time, but that [the] window isn’t the same for each type of flower. With the right mix of plants, we can make sure that your yard is filled with flowers in the spring, summer and fall. It’s just a matter of choosing the right mix of plants to have a nice, staggered ‘show’ outside your window.”

Bigger projects involving new construction or major renovations include putting in patios, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits. “A lot of people want to have more than a patio; they want a unique outdoor living space that’s an extension of their home,” Sina says. “Depending on scope, we can create a multi-sensory experience, with the heat and visual of the fire, the sound of a water feature, and the smell of blooming flowers. We want to maximize the time people spend outside, and definitely make it worth the investment.”

For homeowners who are considering new landscaping, Sina advises planning early. In addition, having a budget in mind, and looking through photos on websites such as Houzz or Pinterest will help you get an idea of things you like. This will assist the design process immensely. “Knowing how the clients want to use the space, their goals, and their budget parameters is really important,” he says. “That way we can give them the best products for the investment.” —