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Outdoor Trends

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  by Leslie Patterson

Outdoor Living trends move away from the usual to create a lavish retreat in your own backyard

contemporary style outdoor fireplace and dining area

Outdoor firepits and fireplaces will be a top pick for residential homeowners in 2007. Top & left photo credit: 2006 ASLA Award Winner, Marmol Radziner and Associates, Los Angeles, California, photo by John Ellis.

Short or long skirt. Grunge or classic. Fashion trends are easy to spot and relay all over the world. But when it comes to things that truly matter, such as your home, the trends are a little harder to decipher. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) demystifies this year’s outdoor living trends with a survey of homeowners’ wishes.

So, what are the hot items for this year that all homeowners should rush out and get? Well, speaking of hot, the number one thing on the list is adding firepits or outdoor fireplaces. Adding the warmth of a fire feature extends the amount of time people can enjoy their outdoor space. And, more and more people are retreating to their backyards for stress-free enjoyment.

Outdoor Rooms

Which leads to another trend – landscape architects are designing plans for more outdoor rooms, complete with a kitchen, dining and living areas that are perfect for entertaining. Much more than just a barbecue grill and a lawn chair, homeowners today are enjoying their outdoors in style. Outdoor rooms can be created with ease by utilizing garden furniture. Trellises can mimic a wall; a covered pavilion has the feeling of a ceiling; and beautiful tables and chairs provide beauty and function. There are many companies that provide outdoor fabrics that resist fading and stains that add gorgeous color and plush comfort for your outdoor room.

covered outdoor kitchen

Photo Above: Wer/Ever, located in Tampa, Florida, offers stunning outdoor kitchen cabinets that resist fading, rotting and cracking through any weather conditions. They ship their cabinets nationwide, and provide installation services within the state of Florida. As a sophisticated, stylish alternative to the normal outdoor kitchen, their cabinets will give you the same beauty and function as your indoor kitchen.

Another popular “room” for your outdoors that is gaining popularity is the kitchen. There are no limits to the appliances that you can use outdoors. Many are engineered to withstand climate changes. And advances in cabinetry expand the options homeowners have to design around their appliances.

A Tampa, Florida, based company, Wer/Ever, designs outdoor kitchen cabinets made from marine-grade polymer that resists warping, rotting, and cracking. These modular cabinets are designed to withstand sun, rain, snow and even pool chemicals.

Matt Boettger, marketing manager for Wer/Ever, explains that their system is an alternative for people seeking out ways to dress up their outdoors. “Our cabinetry is similar in concept to indoor kitchens, providing aesthetically pleasing storage.“

“Where the norm for outdoor kitchens is using masonry and cutting holes to fit items, these modular cabinets are built to fit the space you have,“ Boettger explains. Each cabinet arrives fully assembled and installs easily with screws and attach to each other with stainless-steel bolts so you can add on to your kitchen as needed. For more information on Wer/Ever, visit www.werever.com.

Environmentally Friendly Options

Another trend in landscape design is using environmentally friendly options, such as adding native plants and managing stormwater more effectively. Jessica Herberts, who holds a Bachelor of Art in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois, says that the move toward using native plants is beneficial in multiple ways.

“Not only is it better for the land because you use less chemicals, it is more manageable for the homeowners because plants specific to their location will flourish on their own,” Herberts says.

To make sure your plants are environmentally friendly, find out which plants are native to your specific geographical location. Then take it a step further by making sure you plant your items where they'll thrive the best on their own, be it in shade or sun.

“By using native plants, your landscape design will also bring out native wildlife, such as birds and butterflies,“ Herberts says.

Water Features

outdoor fountain

Photos Above & Below: Water features continue to grow in popularity. From small scale to large, these enchanting features will be a luxurious addition to any backyard setting. A new trend emerging is to reuse stormwater in your water features to be more environmentally friendly. By utilizing this method, the feature will need less chemicals which will be safer for your land.

Water features continue to grow in demand year after year. As one of the most fascinating elements in a garden, water has a way of releasing stress and offering a magical environment.

New in water features is incorporating stormwater into the design. "By utilizing methods that catch rainwater and reuse it, water features will be more environmentally friendly," Herberts says.

Water features also offer a wonderful environment for planting. Water lilies are the most popular but there are countless varieties that will thrive - from annual to perennial, large to small.

In addition to plants, fish will bring joy and excitement to your water features. Goldfish are tried and true beauties, but Japanese Koi are becoming more frequent.

As more homeowners continue to create their own backyard paradise, new and exciting trends in outdoor landscaping will keep popping up. Having your own retreat that reflects your personal style is the best way to escape from the stresses of daily life. And new features that you just have to have, are sure to increase your level of relaxation and fun.

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