The results of the annual nationwide survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) indicated that concern for the environment appears to be driving the design trends of 2015, with eco-friendly or sustainable practices dominating the top 10 trends in this year’s survey. Here are the top 10 design trends reported by the survey, in order of popularity.
1. Native plants: Back in the 70s and 80s, it was typical to see lush green lawns and tropical plants in the gardens of dryer climates. Today’s homeowners, however, are choosing plants that more easily thrive in local conditions, without having to overtax the municipal water supply.
2. Drought-tolerant plants: Even in wetter climates, homeowners are choosing plants that require less water.
3. Edible gardens: With an edible garden, a homeowner can grow more of their own food, requiring the purchase of fewer food items at the grocery, and thus requiring less use of natural resources to get those foods to market.
4. Fire pits/fireplaces: Although not necessarily an avenue to help improve the environment, fire pits and fireplaces do offer a gathering spot where people can spend time together enjoying their outdoor environment.
Fire pits and fireplaces rank as the fourth most popular in overall outdoor living trends, but rank number one in terms of most popular design elements.
5. Low-maintenance landscapes: Today’s homeowners want to spend less time mowing, weeding, and watering their yards and more time enjoying them.
6. Permeable paving: Permeable pavers offer an attractive way to reduce flooding and improve the quality of local waterways by allowing stormwater to percolate through a graduated bed of aggregates into the ground below, removing pollutants in the process.
With permeable pavers, water infiltrates into the pavement system instead of running off.
7. Water-efficient irrigation: Multiple technologies exist that automatically sense the amount of water needed and help avoid unnecessary over-watering, thus conserving water use.
8. Rain gardens: Rain gardens offer an attractive, natural way to reduce the burden on urban and suburban sewer systems caused by stormwater runoff.
9. Lighting: Many of today’s outdoor lighting options include energy saving features, such as solar power, low-voltage output, or timers. The light fixtures themselves often incorporate design elements intended to reduce resulting light pollution.
10. Rainwater/graywater harvesting: Many municipalities now offer rain barrel programs to conserve outdoor water use. In addition, a permeable paver system can be designed to harvest and reuse rainwater for irrigation and graywater purposes.
A permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) system can be designed to incorporate water harvesting and recycling.