Consumers prefer sustainable, tech-friendly designs, ASLA reports

March 8, 2017 -  By
ASLA 2016 Honor Award, Residential Design Category. Water Calculation and Poetic Interpretation by Arterra Landscape Architects.

Winner of the ASLA 2016 Honor Award, Residential Design Category. The project, Water Calculation and Poetic Interpretation, was completed by Arterra Landscape Architects.

Consumers prefer sustainable—yet tech-friendly—design elements in their outdoor living spaces, according to the 2017 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

“The fact that more consumers want outdoor wireless access shows that they want expanded options for remaining connected to their devices,” said Nancy Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA.

Landscape architects were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2017. The survey, which was fielded Feb. 2 through Feb. 16, had 817 respondents.

Here were the top 10 project types with the expected highest consumer demand:

  • Native/adapted drought tolerant plants (82.31 percent);
  • Native plants (81.60 percent);
  • Low-maintenance landscapes (79.25 percent);
  • Food/vegetable gardens, including orchards, vineyards, etc. (76.52 percent);
  • Permeable paving (76.31 percent);
  • Reduced lawn area (72.66 percent);
  • Fire pits/fireplaces (71.51 percent);
  • Drip/water-efficient irrigation (71.05 percent);
  • Wireless/internet connectivity (70.77 percent); and
  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting (70.32).

“Well-designed residential landscapes provide social interaction, enjoyment of nature and physical activity, while also reducing water use and stormwater runoff,” said Somerville. “Landscape architects are pros at creating sustainable outdoor spaces that reflect their clients’ dreams for relaxation and meaningful activity.”

The survey also took a look at the expected popularity of various products and features in five categories, including outdoor design elements, outdoor recreation amenities, landscape/garden elements, outdoor structures and sustainable elements.

View the rest of the survey results ranked in expected order of popularity for 2017 below:

 Outdoor Design Elements

  • Fire pits/fireplaces (71.51 percent);
  • Wireless/internet connectivity (70.77 percent);
  • Lighting (67.83 percent);
  • Outdoor furniture (62.69 percent);
  • Seating/dining areas (62.14 percent);
  • Grills (55.51 percent);
  • Planters, sculptures, garden accessories (52.95 percent);
  • Counter space (51.28 percent);
  • Outdoor heaters (46.69 percent);
  • Stereo systems (45.59 percent);
  • Movie/TV/video theaters (43.75 percent);
  • Outdoor cooling systems, including fans (36.77 percent);
  • Utility storage (36.03 percent);
  • Refrigerators (34.19 percent);
  • Sinks (32.90 percent);
  • Showers/baths (29.78 percent);
  • Hammocks (27.94 percent); and
  • Bedrooms/sleeping spaces (11.21 percent).

 Outdoor Recreation Amenities

  • Sports courts (tennis, bocce, etc.) (42.38 percent);
  • Spa features (hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, indoor/outdoor saunas) (39.68 percent);
  • Swimming pools (39.23 percent); and
  • Labyrinths (10.99 percent).

 Landscape/Garden Elements

  • Native plants (81.60 percent);
  • Low-maintenance landscapes (79.25 percent);
  • Food/vegetable gardens (including orchards, vineyards, etc.) (76.52 percent);
  • Rain gardens (69.08 percent);
  • Organic gardens (66.93 percent);
  • Water-saving xeriscape or dry gardens (66.34 percent);
  • Plant walls/vertical gardens (56.36 percent);
  • Rooftop gardens (52.25 percent);
  • Decorative water elements (ornamental pools, fountains, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers) (43.05 percent); and
  • Ponds/streams – 26.81 percent).

 Outdoor Structures

  • Pergolas (50.33 percent);
  • Decks (41.35 percent);
  • Fencing (39.82 percent);
  • Arbors (38.74 percent);
  • ADA accessible structures (ramps, bars, shelving, etc.) (35.88 percent);
  • Pavilions (35.45 percent);
  • Porches (32.38 percent);
  • Play structures (tree houses, swing sets, etc.) (31.72 percent);
  • Utility sheds (tool sheds, garden sheds) (27.36 percent); and
  • Gazebos (22.31 percent).

 Sustainable Elements

  • Native/adapted drought tolerant plants (82.31 percent);
  • Permeable paving (76.31 percent);
  • Reduced lawn area (72.66 percent);
  • Drip/water-efficient irrigation (71.05 percent);
  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting (70.32 percent);
  • Recycled materials (64.91 percent);
  • Solar-powered lights (57.16 percent);
  • Compost bins (46.35 percent); and
  • Geothermal heated pools (28.36 percent).

Photo Credit: David Livingston

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