Low Maintenance Environments + Outdoor Living Areas
There is only one constant when it comes to the landscape, which is that your landscape is always changing. Mother Nature ushers in four seasons of blooms, growth, and color but homeowners also share responsibility for changes in the landscape. Both structurally and seasonally, homeowners express their personality and lifestyle through outdoor living spaces. Maintaining the value of your home by creating great curb appeal and modernizing your outdoor living space is just as important as indoor remodeling and home maintenance. The increased interest in outdoor rooms and kitchens, native plants and low-maintenance landscaping all exist within the larger scope of outdoor living. Let’s take a look at the two hottest trends in landscaping for 2016.
The Return of Natural Materials
The return of natural materials includes plants, stone, and environmental solutions. For years, the use of pavers that “mimicked” the look of natural stone was a popular choice for hardscapes. Recently, homeowners and designers are returning to natural stone. There are many benefits to pavers but in the end, one cannot replicate what Mother Nature has created on her own. Patterned bluestone, and irregular flagstone, and Valders limestone are all gorgeous natural stones with amazing color variations easily utilized in patios, walkways, and walls. Natural stone also has the benefit of being low maintenance and does not fade over time like pavers can. In the vein of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” comes the trend of incorporating reclaimed products. Chicago street pavers are a hot commodity and can be used to great effect in the landscape.
When it comes to plants, consumers have expressed interest in native plants. However, what we find they are truly looking for is a blend of plants that are low maintenance, easy to grow, and offer an abundance of color throughout the landscape. The New German style of gardening and planting re-creates a natural or prairie look in the landscape and is becoming a more frequent request of homeowners. This style is heavy on perennials, but can include native and non-native shrubs and even annuals. It is a planting style based more on plant ecology than aesthetics, created with low maintenance plantings that, once established, require little to no supplemental water, little mulch and little to no pesticides. It includes mixed species in plant “communities” with a high concentration of clumping grasses, arranged in drifts or repeating swatches to create rhythm and movement in the landscape. This style hits most of the landscape goals of today’s homeowners: environmental, colorful, beautiful and low-maintenance.
Modern Outdoor Lounge
Perhaps the biggest trend in landscaping is the emergence of the outdoor living area. Think beyond a fire pit or outdoor grill and imagine a true outdoor lounge. These pseudo-buildings mean the outdoor parties don’t have to move indoors for winter. By including a roof-style covering to provide shade and protect revelers from the elements, and with the addition of fans and heaters, families can host friends and neighbors almost year-round in a comfortable atmosphere.
Tom Kusmerz, VP of The Barn Nursery says, “Customers in Northern Illinois are spending time on websites like Houzz or watching design shows on HGTV. They see how homeowners enjoy outdoor living in warmer clients. They come to us to replicate these rooms in a way that works for our climate while communicating the look and feel of California or coastal homes.”
This trend continues to expand and can be completed in phases. Start with a patio designed to suit the hosting needs of your family. Include an element of light and warmth. The cozy warmth of an outdoor stone fireplace, gas tiki torches, landscape lighting or patio heaters is a great place to start. These elements alone will create an atmosphere of comfort and fun in the backyard.