Water Features, Fire Pits and Custom Spas In Demand for Backyards

By Cindy
Posted . Filed under Design Inspirations.

American homeowners increasingly are drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties, according to the 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2013. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. It all but tied with gardens and landscaped spaces at 94.4 percent.

Across all categories, 97 percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in-demand for 2013, followed by grills (96.3 percent), seating and dining areas (96.3 percent), and lighting (95.1 percent).

“In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

Fire Pit, Water Feature and Custom Spa

Decorative water elements—including waterfalls, ornamental pools, and plunge pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes (90.9 percent). Custom spas (81.5 percent) and luxury swimming pools (75.3 percent) are also expected to be popular.

Americans still prefer such practical yet striking design elements for their gardens as low-maintenance landscapes (93.9 percent) and native plants (86.6 percent), with organic slightly increasing in popularity (65.3 percent compared to 61.2 percent in 2011). In keeping with the local food movement, more people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards (82.7 percent).

Besides planting locally and organically, other sustainable elements continue their popularity with homeowners. Native or drought-tolerant plants (83 percent), drip irrigation (82.5 percent), permeable paving (72.8 percent) and reduced lawns (72.6 percent) are making their way into outdoor living spaces across the country.

Outdoor Design Elements (Overall rating for 2013)

Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces) – 94.5%
Gardens/landscaped spaces – 94.4%
Outdoor recreation amenities (pools, spas, tennis courts) – 76.3%
Sustainable design practices – 74.8%
Vegetable/fruit gardens – 76.4%
Turf lawns – 52.2%

Outdoor Living Features (Overall rating for 2013)

Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Fire pits/fireplace – 97.0%
Grills – 96.3%
Seating/dining areas – 96.3%
Lighting – 95.1%
Installed seating (benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 90.3%
Weatherized outdoor furniture – 82.3%
Counter space – 74.4%
Utility storage – 64.4%
Stereo systems – 58.5%
Outdoor heaters – 50.6%
Sinks – 49.1%
Refrigerators – 48.7%
Wireless/Internet connectivity – 47.8%
Televisions/projection screens – 45.2%
Showers/baths – 43.3%
Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 31.1%
Hammocks – 24.1%
Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 8.0%

Outdoor Recreation Amenities (Overall rating for 2013)

Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers – 90.9%
Spa features (hot tub, Jacuzzi, whirlpool, indoor/outdoor sauna) – 81.5%
Swimming pools – 75.3%
Sports/recreational spaces (tennis courts, bocce ball, etc.) – 54.3%
Movie/video/TV theatres – 34.4%


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