This article is by Jeff Stafford and published by HGTV


Once homeowners used to adapt their landscaping design to what they thought a future buyer might want. But with more home owners staying put, these days landscape designers say that homeowners are instead adapting their yards and gardens to suit their own needs.
HGTV asked a host of in-the-know designers to share the top trends they are seeing around the country.

Low Maintenance Landscapes

Traditional lawns are undergoing a dramatic makeover. Aiming to spend less money, less time and reduce the use of fertilizers and weed killers, homeowners are choosing lower-maintenance grasses.
“There is a type of Pennisetum that’s a cross [hybrid] that they created at Texas A&M. We use it quite a bit. They call it “kick ass” grass. It’s just a real heavy-duty grass that doesn’t need much water and when it gets it, it kind of blows up. That’s the kind of thing people are looking for” says Austin, Texas landscape designer Mark Word.
“I find that people are getting away from high maintenance grasses like fescue, reducing the yard and going to a lower maintenance grass like a zoysia that takes fewer chemicals. In the other areas, they’re allowing them to become more naturalized. They’re replacing bushes that need pruning every two to three weeks with bushes that grow to their proper size without the need for pruning,” says Georgia landscape designer Eric King of King Landscaping.
Drought-tolerant plants are also big sellers these days.
“People just don’t want to pay that water bill so they’re tending to plant more drought tolerant plants. What I’m also seeing my clients do is minimize the amount of turf they have in the yard, especially when it comes to competition with tree roots” says Dan Eginton of Scenic Design Group.

Souped-Up Outdoor Spaces

Image courtesy of King Landscaping with MOSAIC Group. Photo by Gregg Willett

The new outdoor room features luxurious features, fireplaces, fans, beautiful fabrics and treatments to make outdoor space as well-appointed as indoor.
Once upon a time homeowners would plop on a screened-in porch or deck and call it a day. But today’s outdoor spaces have become a tricked-out extension of the indoors, decked out with functional kitchens, fireplaces, barbecue pits and flat screen TVs.
“There are so many accoutrements that you can put out there: floor lamps and table lamps, all kinds of fabrics for cushions and chairs that are all-weather. There are rugs that are made to go outdoors. There’s art that you can hang up outdoors. Everything that used to be indoors you can virtually buy for outdoors and those accessories really complete the space and make it feel more like an indoor room,” notes King. To keep things more comfortable in steamy Southern regions, misting fans, insect barriers and decorative awnings are popular.

Edible Yards

Not content to just grow a patch of vegetables in raised beds, homeowners are now converting their entire yard into year-round edibles with fruit trees, berry bushes and medicinal herbs. Edible yards are both colorful and useful. Provide order to the space and showcase your plants by creating distinctive borders or lines with evergreens, hedges or sculpture.

Natural Play Areas

The temporary swing sets, trampolines and plastic kiddie pools that once defined the “kid’s zone” section of the yard are being transformed into something far more beautiful and long-lasting. Influenced by the writing of Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, parents are creating exploratory spaces, mini-forests and woodlands where nature—not a plastic slide—provides the play.
Richard Louv, says King, has “done a lot of research showing the benefits to children of spending unstructured playtime outside. That’s not soccer. That’s hiking through the woods, picking up sticks or making a fort out of old rotten logs. He’s found that that unstructured playtime is different than playing football.”
“We’re also trying to make the yard a little more wild. So you can do that by adding a dry creek bed. Maybe the down spouts [from your rainwater runoff] lead to a little area with stones and goes under a little bridge. Or you might have a big pile of sticks the kids can make into a fort…One yard we brought in big boulders and kids just love rocks. They’ll jump from rock to rock, they’ll hide behind them, they’ll make a bridge across them. So that’s the trend—making the yard more interactive and interesting for children for more unstructured creative free play.”

Everything Old Is New Again

Vintage items like old bird cages, picture frames, shutters and seed boxes are trending right now. Designer James Farmer is a fan of Perky-Pet Mason Jar Bird Feeders, “reminiscent of the vintage blue glass canning jars used in the 1800’s.” Hit thrift stores and yard sales to find items like antique coffee cans or water jugs, crates or cloches that can make for unique containers or just a quirky design flourish in your garden.

Color Rules

Image courtesy of Mark Word

One way to bring design impact and color to an outdoor scheme is by incorporating colorful tiles.
Bold purples, metallics, yellows and blues are big in garden decor. Mark Word likes to add color to the garden using bright tiles.
“We’re starting to do a lot of hand-painted tiles or hand-done tiles that come out of Mexico,” says Word. “It’s a good value compared to if you are doing a real fine stone or something that has real depth to it – that’s fairly expensive material.”

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