Backyard Fun
The American love affair with the back yard shows no signs of slowing, according to the 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Landscape architects with a specialization in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements.

The category of gardens and landscape spaces, with 94.9 percent rating somewhat or very popular, was followed closely by outdoor livings spaces at 91.5 percent, which were defined as kitchen and entertainment spaces. Across all categories, 97.4 percent of respondents rated grills as somewhat or very in demand for 2012, followed by low-maintenance landscapes (96.6 percent), fireplaces/fire pits (95.8 percent), and dining areas (95.7 percent).

It appears companies are growing more upbeat about the U.S. economy this year and plan to take on more workers, a survey showed. Some 78 percent of businesses, the most in a year, project the world’s largest economy will expand more than 2 percent in 2012, according to the National Association for Business Economics’ April survey. The share is up from 65 percent in the group’s January report.

Positive momentum
The first three months of 2012 showed progress for the landscape architecture profession compared to the previous quarter in the areas of hiring, billable hours and new business inquiries, according to the Business Quarterly survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Quarter to quarter, FQ 2012 saw 71.3 percent of firms reporting stable or improved billable hours, and 76.2 percent reported stable or improved inquiries for new work. Of these, 40.6 percent and 53.7 percent, respectively, reported the measures as slightly or significantly higher.

Private company acquisitions on the business-for-sale marketplace hit their highest levels in more than three years, according to Business Week.

Closed transactions increased by nearly 4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same time period last year. BizBuySell general manager Curtis Kroeker says the uptick has been prompted by small businesses’ revenue and cash flow steadily improving since mid-2010, Kroeker says. Sellers are also dropping prices; the median was $150,000 in the first quarter of 2012, making them attractive to unemployed individuals hoping to buy themselves jobs – or those with money to spend trying to snap up bargains.

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