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Love your landscape: four trends to spruce up your backyard


Comfortable living and dining rooms with weatherproof furnishings, built-in bars, brick ovens and fireplaces, even outdoor movie theatres, are transforming the way people enjoy the outdoors. - Getty Images/iStockphoto
Comfortable living and dining rooms with weatherproof furnishings, built-in bars, brick ovens and fireplaces, even outdoor movie theatres, are transforming the way people enjoy the outdoors. - Getty Images/iStockphoto

The hottest landscape design trends this spring reflect the desire to bring the indoors out — to create comfortable landscapes that are both functional and beautiful — and find ways to connect with nature. Outdoor rooms and fully customized living spaces, and a renewed interest in sustainable landscapes that support the environment and natural ecosystems, are just a few of the top trends.

1. Fully customized outdoor living spaces

Backyard entertaining used to revolve around a deck, patio or pool, but today’s landscapes have become extensions of interior spaces, complete with furniture, appliances and romantic canopy bedrooms. Comfortable living and dining rooms with weatherproof furnishings, built-in bars, brick ovens and fireplaces, even outdoor movie theatres, are transforming the way people enjoy the outdoors.

“One of the key things that we’re seeing is people really wanting to enjoy their outdoor living environment,” says Missy Henriksen, vice- president of public affairs for National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). “But they want things that will make their outdoor area unique, that personalization that’s different than their neighbours.”

2. Lighted and high-tech landscapes

Installing solar-powered lighting or energy-efficient LED lights is another way landscapes are going green. LED lighting has made it much more feasible to add creative and functional light displays in gardens and along walkways. Backyard WiFi, TV and audio systems, which can be monitored and controlled via technology, are other ways outdoor landscapes are going high-tech.

“You can control landscape lighting via your iPad and create different moods,” says David Marciniak, owner/lead designer of Revolutionary Gardens in Culpeper, Virginia. “LED has given a lot more flexibility to lighting because you’re only pulling two or three watts per fixture.”

3. Eco-friendly and native gardens

Native plants help attract birds, insects and wildlife, but they also help manage rainwater runoff, stop the spread of invasive species and support the larger ecosystem. Naturescaping encourages the use of perennial native plants and grasses to design environmentally conscious landscapes.

“I’ve been floored in the amount of interest I’ve had in that in the last two years,” Marciniak says. “I am seeing so much interest in native plantings and everything that goes along with that, trying to be true to the site and the area along with trying to be true to pollinators and the birds.”

4. Edible landscapes

Pots of fresh herbs, lettuce and other easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables add texture and colour variety to outdoor landscapes.

Container gardens and portable living wall planter systems, which take up less space and require less care, make it easier for those with space and time constraints and provide a supply of fresh ingredients right out the back door.

“It’s a way for people to enjoy their outdoor space and that connection to nature, and herbs taste a little fresher and better when you’ve had the satisfaction of actually growing them,” Henriksen says. “It doesn’t matter the size of your outdoor space. You can create beautiful and functional container gardens on a patio or balcony.”

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