Sustainable and low-maintenance design are the top trends for residential landscape projects, according to the 2015 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Landscape architects were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2015. The survey was fielded February 13 through February 27, 2015, with 581 responding. ASLA redesigned the survey for 2015 and introduced a new methodology to more clearly rank the popularity of different types of landscape projects.

Respondents expected the greatest demand for ecologically sensitive projects intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

Here are the top ten project types with the expected highest consumer demand:

  • Native plants (85 percent)
  • Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (83 percent)
  • Food/vegetable gardens (79 percent)
  • Fire pits/fireplaces (78 percent)
  • Low-maintenance landscapes (78 percent)
  • Permeable paving (77 percent)
  • Drip/water-efficient irrigation (74 percent)
  • Rain gardens (74 percent)
  • Lighting (72 percent)
  • Rainwater/graywater harvesting (71 percent)

“Consumers care about designed landscapes that are attractive, easy to take care of and eco-friendly,” says Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “The survey shows that homeowners increasingly see opportunities to improve the environment right in their own backyard.”

The top three most popular outdoor design elements include fire pits/fireplaces (78 percent), lighting (72 percent) and grills (63 percent). The top landscape and garden elements include native plants (85 percent), food and vegetable gardens (79 percent) and low-maintenance landscapes (78 percent). Pergolas (51 percent), decks (45 percent) and fencing (42 percent) are expected to be the most popular outdoor structures.

The hottest sustainable design elements include native/adapted drought-tolerant plants (83 percent), permeable paving (77 percent) and drip/water-efficient irrigation (74 percent).

Forty percent of respondents noted that the most popular outdoor recreation amenities for 2015 will include spa features—hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, and indoor/outdoor saunas—and swimming pools.

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Outdoor Design Elements

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Fire pits/fireplaces – 78.0%
Lighting – 72.0%
Grills – 63.0%
Outdoor furniture – 63.0%
Seating/dining areas – 63.0%
Wireless/internet connectivity – 60.0%
Planters, sculptures, garden accessories – 55.0%
Counter space – 53.0%
Outdoor heaters – 46.0%
Stereo systems – 45.0%
Movie/TV/video theaters – 38.0%
Utility storage – 38.0%
Sinks – 37.0%
Refrigerators – 35.0%
Outdoor cooling systems (including fans) – 29.0%
Showers/baths – 27.0%
Hammocks – 20.0%
Bedrooms/sleeping spaces – 9.0%

Outdoor Recreation Amenities

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Spa features (hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, indoor/outdoor saunas) – 40.0%
Swimming pools – 40.0%
Sports courts (tennis, bocce, etc.) – 36.0%

Landscape/Garden Elements

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Native plants – 85.0%
Food/vegetable gardens (including orchards, vineyards, etc.) – 79.0%
Low-maintenance landscapes – 78.0%
Rain gardens – 74.0%
Water-saving xeriscape or dry gardens – 71.0%
Organic gardens – 68.0%
Plant walls/vertical gardens – 61.0%
Decorative water elements (ornamental pools, fountains, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers) – 57.0%
Rooftop gardens – 56.0%
Ponds/streams – 33.0%

Outdoor Structures

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Pergolas – 51.0%
Decks – 45.0%
Fencing – 42.0%
Arbors – 41.0%
Porches – 38.0%
ADA accessible structures (ramps, bars, shelving, etc.) – 31.0%
Pavilions – 31.0%
Utility sheds (tool sheds, garden sheds) – 29.0%
Play structures (treehouses, swing sets, etc.) – 25.0%
Gazebos – 19.0%

Sustainable Elements

Ranked in expected order of popularity for 2015

Native/adapted drought tolerant plants – 83.0%
Permeable paving – 77.0%
Drip/water-efficient irrigation – 74.0%
Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 71.0%
Reduced lawn area – 69.0%
Recycled materials – 65.0%
Solar-powered lights – 55.0%
Compost bins – 51.0%
Geothermal heated pools – 21.0%