Top Trends for Landscaping


What does your landscaping 
say about you?


As the days grow longer, our focus shifts to the outdoors. We're tired of being stuck inside all winter and love that it's light out when we get home from work. You might start out by using the grill for more meals, eating outdoors on a mild evening and start dreaming about... that next homeowner project. 

Spring is a great time to assess your home's landscaping from many angles. 


  • Does your front yard have great curb appeal for friends, neighbors and future home buyers?
  • Are your children encouraged to burn off that energy that makes you exhausted just watching them?
  • Does your family enjoy cooking and eating outdoors?
  • Are you relaxing at night, and entertaining outdoors?


Chances are you've got some great ideas about how to improve your landscaping, but aren't sure where you should invest your time and money. That's where the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey of top residential landscape trends can be really helpful. 

Their annual survey covers outdoor design elements, landscape/garden elements, recreation amenities, outdoor structures and sustainable elements. You might expect the focus to be on tangible things you use in your backyard, and you'd be wrong. More homeowners want outdoor living spaces that are 1. environmentally sustainable; 2. reduce water costs (remember all the droughts); and 3. low maintenance. 

So here are the top ten projects landscape architects predicted in the survey conducted in February 2016. 

Landscaping for Sustainability 

With droughts hitting so many parts of the US, it’s no surprise that water issues are a hot topic. California with their turf replacement rebate program, is leading the way in redefining outdoor landscaping that requires little or no irrigation. And there are books like The Water-Saving Garden, to help you save water too. 

  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting (88%) means reusing wastewater from your home for landscaping. It comes from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, bathroom sinks, tubs and showers … but not toilets (called blackwater).
  • Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (85%) suggests the obvious, that we use native plants that thrive in your environment, with an emphasis on drought tolerant plants like cactus.
  • Permeable paving (77%) focuses on allowing stormwater to seep into the ground below it, to reduce runoff.
  • Drip/water-efficient irrigation (72%) is a great alternative to sprinkler systems. It uses emitter tubing above or below ground, to deliver a slow and precise amount of water directly to the plants (check it out on Amazon).
  • Reduced lawn area (72%) speaks for itself, replacing water guzzling grass with gravel, wood chips, pavers or even artificial grass (article with pros and cons for top 10 options).

Landscaping Elements that Use Less Water 

As you make changes to your landscape and gardens, consider adding elements that require less water. The environment will thank you, and lower water bills are helpful too. 

  • Food/vegetable gardens (75%) are gaining popularity, and provide their own type of green in your backyard with the added benefit of fresh vegetables.
  • Rain gardens (73%) are designed to handle the extremes of moisture and lots of nutrients that are found in stormwater runoff. For this reason, they’re most often found at the bottom of a hill (learn more).
  • Native plants (86%) can be challenging when we’re not used to seeing them. You can learn about these plants at your local nursery, a nearby botanical garden or online at PlantNative.org or Wildflower.org.

Low Maintenance Landscapes (85%) similar to low maintenance decisions for your house, are all about saving you time so you can enjoy your home more. Even if you’re an avid gardener, you might prefer spending time in your flower or vegetable gardens versus mowing the lawn. 

The only landscaping element to make the top 10 list, was fire pits/fireplaces at 75%(firepits cost less than you think). Maybe we’ve already established your outdoor cooking and eating routines, so now it’s time to sit down and relax by the fire! 
Source: McNair Custom Homes