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Survey Reveals Hottest Outdoor Design Trends for 2014

Consumer demand remains strong for attractively designed residential landscapes that are perfect for entertaining and relaxing, according to respondents to ASLA’s 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. The survey also shows continuing popularity for both sustainable and low-maintenance design options.

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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 2014. The category of gardens and landscaped spaces received a 94.2 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. Outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, were the second most popular at 92.0 percent. Outdoor recreation came in third at 75.8 percent.

Across all categories, 98.3 percent of respondents rated lighting as somewhat or very in-demand for 2014, followed by seating/dining areas (97.7 percent), fire pits/fireplaces (95.4 percent), grills (94.3 percent) and installed seating (89.6 percent), which include benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps, and boulders.

“Homeowners know that designed landscapes add value to their lives as well as their property,” says ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “They’re interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth-friendly.”

In the realm of landscape garden structures, terraces, patios, and decks are high on people’s lists (97.7 percent), as are fencing (88.5 percent), pergolas (82.8 percent), and decks (82.3 percent).

Survey respondents noted that the most popular landscape and garden elements for 2014 include low-maintenance landscapes (95.4 percent), native plants (84.5 percent), and fountains/ornamental water features (83.9 percent). Slightly more than three quarters of respondents (76.4 percent) noted food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards, will be in demand this year.

Decorative water elements—including waterfalls, ornamental pools, and splash pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes (86.1 percent). Spas (76.4 percent) and swimming pools (73.8 percent) are also expected to be popular.

The most in-demand eco-friendly design elements include native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (88 percent) and drip/water-efficient irrigation (84.5 percent). Permeable paving (78.9 percent), reduced lawn (72.6 percent), and recycled materials (65.1 percent) are other popular elements that will help American homeowners reduce their environmental footprint.

Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found at

Outdoor Design Elements (overall rating for 2014)
Percent rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Gardens/landscaped spaces – 94.2%
Outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces) – 92.0%
Outdoor recreation amenities (pools, spas, tennis courts) – 75.8%
Sustainable design practices – 74.2%
Vegetable/fruit gardens – 72.4%
Turf lawns – 54.0%
ADA/accessible design – 29.7%

Outdoor Living Features (overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Lighting – 98.3%
Seating/dining areas – 97.7%
Fire pits/fireplaces – 95.4%
Grills – 94.3%
Installed seating (benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 89.6%
Outdoor furniture – 84.1%
Counter space – 75.5%
Utility storage – 65.5%
Stereo systems – 60.7%
Wireless/internet connectivity – 56.0%
Sinks – 55.0
Refrigerators – 53.7%
Televisions/projection screens – 49.4%
Outdoor heaters – 48.9%
Showers/baths – 46.8%
Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 37.2%
Hammocks – 34.1%
Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 14.9%

Outdoor Recreation Amenities (overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers – 86.1%
Spa features (hot tub, Jacuzzi, whirlpool, indoor/outdoor sauna) – 76.4%
Swimming pools – 73.8%
Sports/recreational spaces (tennis courts, bocce ball, etc.) – 58.6%
Movie/video/TV theatres – 42.3%

Landscape/Garden Elements (overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Low maintenance landscapes – 95.4%
Native plants – 84.5%
Fountains/ornamental water features – 83.9%
Food/Vegetable gardens (including orchards/vineyards etc.) – 76.4%
Xeriscaping or dry gardens – 69.1%
Organic gardens – 64.0%
Ponds/streams – 60.0%
Rain gardens – 58.3%
Rooftop gardens – 53.1%
Plant walls/vertical gardens – 49.7%

Sustainable Design Elements (0verall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants – 88.0%
Drip/water-efficient irrigation – 84.5%
Permeable paving – 78.9%
Reduced lawn – 72.6%
Recycled materials – 65.1%
Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 60.6%
Compost bins – 51.2%
Solar-powered lights – 42.7%
Geothermal-heated pools – 27.2%

Outdoor Structures (overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

Terraces/patios/decks – 97.7%
Fencing (includes gates) – 88.5%
Pergolas – 82.8%
Decks – 82.3%
Ornamental water features such as fountains or splash pools – 81.6%
Arbors – 81.1%
Steps – 77.7%
Porches – 74.4%
Kitchens/ovens – 71.4%
Art (sculptures, murals etc.) – 64.4%
Play structures (tree houses, swing sets, etc.) – 60.6%
Utility sheds (tool sheds, garden sheds, etc.) – 59.0%
Pavilions – 56.6%
Gazebos – 48.5%
Awnings, including retractable – 47.7%
Columns – 45.4%
ADA-accessible structures (ramps, bars, accessible shelving, etc.) – 33.1%

About the Survey
The survey asked residential landscape architecture professionals about the estimated popularity of various design elements for 2014. The survey was fielded January 16 through February 14, 2014, with 179 responding.

Comments February 25, 2014 10:42 AM
Was there any information on outdoor showers? We are seeing a huge increase in the interest from architects across the U.S. Thanks! March 5, 2014 2:46 PM
Is it going to be ok to cite this survey when we are bidding on jobs for homeowners? Or do we need written permission? March 7, 2014 11:25 AM
You are free to use the results as you see fit. No need to ask for permission.
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