Landscape architects survey identifies hottest outdoor living trends for 2010

Landscape architects survey identifies hottest outdoor living trends for 2010

Features - 2010 Breakthrough

Popular elements include fire pits, low maintenance landscapes and low-frill entertaining

  • March 5, 2010
  • Garden Center

While outdoor living continues to grow in popularity, expect fewer frills this year as homeowners get back to the basics in a cool economy, according to an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey of residential landscape architects.

Overall, 94.4 percent of residential landscape architects rate outdoor living spaces like kitchens or entertaining space as somewhat or very popular for 2010. Among kitchen features, the most popular include the classic outdoor grill (94.4 percent) and counter space (73.5 percent). More elaborate kitchen elements like outdoor refrigerators (52.8 percent) and sinks (50 percent) were much less popular.

Following a similar trend, the most popular outdoor entertainment features eschewed more expensive, elaborate items in favor of the essentials. For 2010, expect the continued interest in seating/dining areas (95.6 percent) using installed seating like benches and seatwalls (90.6 percent) or weatherized outdoor furniture (77.1 percent), along with the ever-popular fire pit/fireplace (94 percent). Landscape architects anticipate less enthusiasm for items like stereo systems (57.2 percent), outdoor heaters (43.9 percent) and TVs (35.5 percent).

“Homeowners want to create a sense of place for their family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy outside, but an uncertain economy means many will dial back some of the extra features we’ve seen in past years,” said ASLA executive vice president and CEO Nancy Somerville.

Among landscape and garden features, 2010 will feature an increase of design elements that reduce time and money. Topping the list are low-maintenance landscapes (94 percent); drip/water-efficient irrigation (85.2 percent); native/adapted drought tolerant plants (85.2 percent); and less lawn (73.9 percent). Other popular features include fountains/water features (87.8 percent) and food/vegetable gardens (78.5 percent).

Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found at

Outdoor Living Features (Percent rating somewhat or very popular for 2010)
Seating/dining areas – 95.6%
Grills – 94.4%
Fire pits/fireplace – 94%
Lighting – 93.4%
Installed seating (benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 90.6%
Weatherized outdoor furniture – 77.1%
Counter space – 73.5%
Utility storage – 66.7%
Stereo systems 57.2%
Refrigerators – 52.8%
Sinks – 50.0%
Wireless/Internet connectivity – 44.1%
Outdoor heaters – 43.8%
Showers/bathing – 36.5%
Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 36.5%
Televisions/projection screens – 35.6%
Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 5.6% 
Outdoor Recreation Amenities
Decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers – 86.8%
Spa (hot tub, Jacuzzi, whirlpool, indoor/outdoor sauna) – 79.1%
Swimming Pools – 72.4%
Sports/recreational spaces (tennis courts, bocce ball, etc.) – 47.0% 
Landscape/Garden Elements
Low maintenance landscapes – 94.0%
Fountains/ornamental water features – 87.8%
Native plants – 83.9%
Food/Vegetable gardens (including orchards/vineyards etc.) – 78.5%
Organic gardens – 67.0%
Ponds/streams – 61.9%
Rain gardens – 60.4%
Xeriscape or dry gardens – 58.1% 
Sustainable Design Elements
Drip/water-efficient irrigation – 85.2%
Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants – 85.2%
Reduced lawn – 73.9%
Permeable paving – 72.5%
Recycled materials – 68.0%
Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 64.1%
Compost bins – 55.0%
Solar-powered lights – 49.4%
Geothermal-heated pools – 28.2% 
Arbors – 87.2%
Ornamental water features such as fountains or splash pools – 86.7%
Pergolas – 83.4%
Decks – 83.0%
Fencing (includes gates) – 82.9%
Porches – 76.4%
Steps – 74.6%
Utility shed (tool shed, garden shed etc.) – 64.8%
Gazebos – 58.6%
Pavilions – 58.0%
Art (sculpture etc.) – 58.0%
Columns – 43.7%
Awnings, including retractable – 42.8%
ADA-accessible structures (ramps, bars, accessible shelving etc.) – 21.4%

About the Survey
The survey asked residential landscape architects about the estimated popularity of various design elements for 2010. The survey was fielded January 25 to February 12, with 182 responding.


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