What’s more fun than looking just a bit into the future and speculating on what your customers will be asking for? Okay … I can think of a few things … but with the help of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), we can take a look at what the organization states are the “hottest outdoor design trends for 2014.”

Each year the ASLA polls its members for their take on what’s trending, and the responses are based upon what the member landscape architects—for this survey, it’s those who specialize in residential design—say is popular with their clients. Contracts for specific kinds of work tend to be reliable sources.

For 2014, the broad category of gardens and landscaped spaces received a 94.2 percent rating as “somewhat or very popular.” Ringing in at second place were outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens or entertainment spaces; these garnered 92.0 percent of the vote. Outdoor recreation placed third at 75.8 percent.

So it looks like the overall desire is for comfort, relaxation, an extension of the home to the out of doors, and a place to settle in with friends or wow the neighbors.

Respondents noted that the elements that proved most popular for this year include low-maintenance landscapes (95.4 percent), native plants (84.5 percent) and water features/fountains (83.9 percent). Food gardens, including vegetables, orchards and vineyards (for those with lots of room) were cited by slightly more than three-quarters of the LAs (76.4 percent).

When it comes to structures, 97.7 of those surveyed noted terraces, patios and decks top their clients’ lists, followed by fencing (88.5 percent) and pergolas (82.8 percent). Again, relaxation—and perhaps a safe place for the family dog.

Considering all categories, lighting remains popular, with a whopping 98.3 percent of respondents rating lighting as either somewhat or very in-demand. Filling in the outdoor kitchen and entertaining spaces are seating and dining areas (97.7 percent), fire pits and/or fireplaces (95.4 percent), grills (94.3 percent) and installed seating (89.6 percent). This includes benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps and boulders. Who doesn’t love a well-placed boulder?

To soothe those aching souls and soles, decorative water elements are poised to be popular in 2014. Waterfalls, ornamental pools and splash pools (for the pup?) brought in 86.1 percent. Spas (76.4 percent) and swimming pools (73.8 percent) also are expected to be in demand.

In this third/fourth/fifth? round of environmental awareness, the most asked-for, eco-friendly design elements are predicted to be the use of native or native-adapted, drought-tolerant plants (88 percent) and efficient irrigation (84.5 percent). Considering the fickle and fluctuating state of water supplies in many areas of the country—some in extreme drought, some recovering, some headed for trouble—this is a good sign. Permeable paving also is expected (78.9 percent), as are reduced lawn space (72.6 percent) and hardscapes constructed from recycled materials (65.1 percent).

All in all, it sounds like more of the same. Which, when you think about it, is what a trend is: a general tendency, direction or inclination. Something that builds, something that sustains for a bit longer than a fad. Something that has a little staying power.

Earth-friendly materials and methods, and the desire to be outside. Isn’t that what we’re all about?