Top Outdoor Design Trends: Capitalizing on the Sustainability Movement

Mar 20, 2018

Sustainable design elements continue to top the list of "must haves" in outdoor design and grow exponentially more popular with each passing year. In fact, the 2017 annual survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects revealed that eight of the top ten trends in residential outdoor design can be directly attributed to the green movement.


Top 10 Outdoor Design Trends:

1. drought tolerant plants

2. native plants

3. low-maintenance landscapes

4. edible gardens

5. permeable pavers

6. reduced lawn areas

7. fire features

8. water-efficient irrigation

9. wireless internet connectivity

10. rainwater harvesting systems


The savvy hardscape professional can use this knowledge to create upsell opportunities for residential projects. Possible project design upgrades include:


Vertical Gardens

Vertical Garden

Segmental retaining wall block can be used to construct a vertical garden for native plants. This can be a way to dress up a large wall or construct a garden for a project that has space limitations.


Built-in Planters and Raised Beds


Keeping up with an edible garden can be back-breaking work, which is made much less strenuous with a raised bed. And a bed constructed with segmental retaining wall block has substantially increased longevity over one constructed with timbers or lumber. Also, for your customers building an outdoor kitchen, suggest a built-in planter near the kitchen for growing fresh herbs.


Permeable Paver Driveways, Walkways, Patios and Pool Decks

Permeable Pavers

Many states and municipalities offer tax incentive or grant programs for installing permeable pavers, which help eliminate stormwater runoff and reduce pollution of nearby waterways. Research whether any programs are available in your area and pass that information on to homeowners. With reduced out-of-pocket costs, many homeowners may choose to increase the size of a planned patio or add another paver project to the list, like a permeable walkway or a permeable driveway.


Heated Permeable Pavers

Heated Pavers

In colder climates, let homeowners know that a heated permeable paver system can be designed to include heating cables below the pavers, which can be activated by temperature and moisture sensors to immediately melt snow and drain it away. This can dramatically help in preventing snow accumulation and ice build-up, thus reducing or eliminating the need for de-icing agents or the labor required for snow removal. This is especially advantageous for driveways and walkways. It should be noted that the addition of heating cables would not impact a LEED designation or a label of sustainability.


Fire Pit Patio

FirePit Patio

Fire pits have been on the top 10 list of outdoor design trends for quite a few years now. And since an additional trend is to reduce lawn space, this opens an opportunity to increase the size of a project to include a fire pit patio with seating around the pit.


Water Harvesting and Recycling

Water recycling

A permeable paver system can be designed to collect and recycle water for irrigation, water features or other uses. Municipalities with water conservation programs often have tax incentives for installing this type of system.

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