Landscape designs are changing – evolving actually. Fewer homeowners are satisfied with a tree or two and some foundation planting. Rather, they want to live outside for as much of the year as possible, and this may mean having to be prepared for what Mother Nature has planned.
Garden Design magazine recently ran a story on its website about what several landscape designers are seeing as trends for this year, and many coincide with what we are seeing, even in conservative Rochester.
The humble gas grill and picnic table have given way to the outdoor room. I’ve written about outdoor rooms in the past, but designers are now kicking it up more notches and it’s time for another look.
The outdoor kitchen is the family gathering place, just as it is indoors, so they’re being designed to extend their useful life to three seasons. This includes rigid, transparent or retractable walls to deflect the prevailing wind. The kitchen appliances may include a mega-grill, a brick pizza oven, refrigerator and even a microwave.
A fire pit will be needed to keep your outdoor room warm in the cooler shoulder seasons. The increased demand for fire pits is stimulating the creative juices for landscape designers. They aren’t just an old, cut-off 55 gallon drum, or even a portable fire pit from a home store anymore. Fire pits are now built-in and permanent, and are surrounded by furniture that would rival the nicest living room furniture, except that the structures and fabrics are designed to withstand the variability of three-season weather.
Here in our area, most of your outdoor living space will have to be winterized, unless it’s truly an indoor-outdoor space with sliding or folding walls that will protect it. Otherwise, you will need either on-premises storage or a rented storage unit. Instructions for winterizing the appliances should come with them.
Outdoor lighting has also changed. LED has taken over. While these lights may cost a bit more initially, they’ll save you money over the long haul. LED bulbs are very energy efficient and versatile. They can be found in traditional landscape lights, like path lights and in string lights or café lights. LED lights are also available with multiple colors in the same bulb so you can change color for different moods or themes. Best of all, some LED lighting systems can be set up to be controlled from your smartphone.
Other hardscape items like fences, arbors and even houses are being painted darker, primary colors rather than the neutral tones that have been traditional. This is a trend from Europe, where some houses and fences are even painted black to highlight the landscaping.
There you have it – the 2016 hardscape trends. Next week I’ll tell you about some exciting new trends in greenscaping. Oh, yes. Garden Gnomes are back in style.