Every good landscape design includes a variety of hardscaping, and it can be easy to reach for the same old tried-and-true solutions. However, there are some new trends that homeowners want. Staying on top of trends leads to higher customer satisfaction and more referrals. Here’s what homeowners are asking for when it comes to hardscaping.
- Gathering Spaces
It used to be that gathering spaces were sited right outside the back door, and that’s typical when you think about creating convenience. But gathering spaces — for large and more intimate groups — are starting to show up in unconventional places. Previously unused side yards are ideal candidates for courtyards and coffee time spaces, and front yards are often the scene for additional gathering spaces including simple gravel patios and more elaborate hardscaping such as retaining walls or “sitting walls.”
- Fire Pits
Permanent or movable, fire pits add warmth and coziness to any landscape and have long been a desirable feature for many homeowners. What’s new is a resurgence of more rustic and homey areas (think campfires) that create a sense of intimacy and nostalgia. Properly placed and with appropriate seating and plant selection, these features provide homeowners additional space for gathering for a happy hour or old-fashioned cookouts.
- Raised Beds
Raised beds used to be the little darling of the vegetable-growing grandmas and grandpas, but today, they’re stunning features in and of themselves. With increased attention to and value of sustainability, more and more homeowners are interested in growing their food — but they want to do it in a way that looks great. Mortared cut stone, and even hot-rolled steel create raised beds of distinctive design and style.
Pathways, once considered merely a way to get from Point A to Point B in the garden, are now opportunities for design. Mortared stone, reclaimed vintage brick, crunchy Old World gravel, and rustic yet modern steel all become valued materials for creating pathways that are as much a part of the landscaping as a patio or a pool.
- Body-Mind-Spirit Spaces
There’s been a massive trend in recent years for body-mind-spirit practices to move outside, with homeowners seeking permanent outdoor spaces for yoga, stretching, and meditation. Structures like free-standing floating decks with composite decking (more comfortable on bare feet), quiet, out-of-the-way spaces, and cool yet comfortable seating are imperative to creating spots for relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Outdoor Kitchens
Outdoor kitchens with all the bells and whistles are still the norm for upscale landscapes. Fully functional kitchens include ovens, grills, stovetops, refrigerators, and plenty of counter space — but don’t forget features like cob ovens for pizza and bread, wine coolers, and under-the-counter space for beer kegs, as well as composting containers for gardeners.
- Terraced Gardens
While those with steeply sloped properties have always employed the use of terracing, smart planning incorporates the terraces into the overall design, turning them into a stunning design asset rather than simply a functional one. Use materials that complement the style of the home and surrounding garden and add features such as accessible stairways and landscape lighting to illuminate the entire area.
- Sustainable Materials
Today’s homeowners have an increased sensitivity to the environment, and building/landscape materials reflect that value. Look for landscape plans to include natural stone products, locally sourced materials, organic supplies, and water-conserving designs and plants, as well as sustainable and low-impact installation processes.
Pools have never gone out of style, but their features have changed. Homeowners are more and more interested in natural designs that take the surrounding environment into account, as well as building materials that create a natural lagoon aesthetic. However, graphic geometric designs are holding strong as well, with simple rectangular pools softened by easy landscaping remaining popular.
- 4-Season Rooms
We’re not talking about the old 1970’s lanai with rattan furniture and macrame plant holders — today’s 4-season rooms are fully updated and enclosed to allow homeowners the opportunity to relax closer to the outdoors while still being fully enclosed. Comfortable and stylish seating, natural stone floors, plenty of room for plants, and space for luxury items like flat-screen TVs and wine refrigerators — it’s that in-between area from the home to the landscape.