And the Hottest Outdoor Design Trends Are. . .

Based on the survey numbers, no fortune telling involved, your next residential project, in a nutshell, will most likely involve one or more of these: gardens, low-maintenance landscapes (drought-tolerant plants), decorative water features, a terrace, patio or deck.
Photo: NUVIS landscape architecture and planning. Alamo Creek project in LASN, 2009 Residential issue

According to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), residential design is the largest market for ASLA members’ services, constituting nearly 40 percent of private firms’ billable hours annually.

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 percentage number in each category indicates the surveyed LAs considered the outdoor element/features “popular” or “somewhat popular.”

Outdoor Design Elements
Gardens/landscaped spaces: 94.2%
Outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces): 92%
Outdoor recreation amenities (pools, spas, tennis courts): 75.8%
Sustainable design practices: 74.2%
Vegetable/fruit gardens: 72.4%
Turf lawns: 54%
ADA/accessible design: 29.7%

Outdoor Living Features
Decorative water elements: 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
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%
Ponds/streams: 60%
Rain gardens: 58.3%
Rooftop gardens: 53.1%
Plant walls/vertical gardens: 49.7%

Sustainable Design Elements
Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants: 88%
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
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%
Pavilions: 56.6%
Gazebos: 48.5%
Awnings, including retractable: 47.7%
Columns: 45.4%
ADA-accessible structures (ramps, bars, accessible shelving, etc.): 33.1%

Editor’s note: One amenity is missing from this list: fire pits and other fire elements, which seem to be pretty popular.