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Cool Gardens Landscaping Ltd/Houzz.

Cozy Outdoor Living Spaces
Top the List of Landscaping Trends

Monday, April 16, 2018

By Natalie Way, Realtor.com

One of the great joys of owning a home is having the space to entertain. That's why many home shoppers pine over houses with a great backyard, picturing themselves putting in a dining table, a barbecue, and maybe some raised flower beds.

But why stop there? Recent trends show that, to many homeowners, “outdoor living” means more than just setting up a GrillMaster; the ideal outdoor space now looks like an extension of your interior. In fact, a new report from Houzz found that 88% of homeowners taking on landscaping projects upgrade outdoor living elements such as furniture and heating features that make spending time outside more comfortable.

In February and March, the home remodeling and design website surveyed more than 750 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are planning, are in the midst of, or recently completed a landscaping project.

“We’ve continued to see homeowners put greater priority on developing a personalized outdoor living environment,” says Matthew Breyer, president and lead designer for Breyer Construction & Landscape. “No longer are we simply ‘building boxes,’ but rather, we’re working as designers to help flesh out how our clients anticipate living in these spaces, and where their priorities are.”

Landscape architect Drew Langston agrees that homeowners are focused on outdoor living. In the past two years, Langston has quadrupled the amount of “landscape master plans” he's working on at any given time. These include pools, patios, walls, fire pits, and extensive landscaping – and his business is based in chilly Buffalo, New York!

Even in the Northeast, where warm weather isn't as consistent as in other parts of the country, he says people are still jumping at the chance to improve their backyards.

Photo by Simmons Estate Homes.

Trending Features for the Ultimate Outdoor Living Area

Homeowners looking to spend more time living and entertaining in their backyards are actually outfitting them with decor pieces we're used to seeing inside. For 43% of respondents, that means lounge furniture, while 34% bring in dining furniture. Other hot outdoor furnishings include string lights, at 35%; benches, at 27%; ceiling fans, at 15%; and rugs, at 14% – all of which make the space look like a cohesive room.

Heating sources such as fire pits are also popular, with nearly 40% of respondents saying they installed, or are thinking of installing, one. Outdoor heating overall is valuable as it can extend the season for outdoor entertaining.

Of course, tricking out your backyard in 2018 also means bringing in some shiny new devices such as TVs, chosen by 59% of respondents; wireless speakers, at 42%; and wired charging hubs, at 11%. Breyer also mentions that accessories such as fans and LED lighting have taken priority among clients.

“We have been working with a number of customers that have amazing lighting, full outdoor sound systems, and other outdoor amenities, all that work in conjunction with the indoor sound systems,” says Patrick Harders, a contractor in Northern Virginia specializing in outdoor lighting. “These allow people to entertain as if they are in their own private resort.”

Speaking of privacy, it's also one of the biggest requests from homeowners undergoing a landscaping project.

“Due to the increase in time spent entertaining outdoors, people are realizing just how close the neighbors are. We do more construction with mini pergolas, decorative feature walls, outdoor blinds, and tiered landscaping to address these concerns,” says Breyer. Privacy fences and noise-canceling barriers are also popular choices for folks who don't want to end the party at 10 pm.

How Much Are People Spending?

Outdoor renovations can be expensive, but it's a cost that a majority of homeowners are willing to pay. According to the survey, 56% of homeowners spent more than $10,000 on their outdoor renovations. Almost a third, 32%, reportedly spent less than $5,000.

“In my experience, the average landscape (planting and beds only) is about $3,500 to $5,000, and the average project involving hardscaping (walls, patios, fire pits) as well is about $15,000,” Langston says. “This being said, we execute several jobs a year between $25,000 and $50,000, and usually one to three jobs a year that can be between $80,000 and $100,000. I truly believe an enjoyable landscape is achievable at any budget.”

Photo by MTLA - Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture.

Why Homeowners Are Shifting Their Focus Outdoors

The biggest reason for starting a landscaping project is to improve elements of the outdoor space that have deteriorated. But once those updates are made, 67% of homeowners said they spend more time outside once they have completed a landscaping project, with 62% of those spending their time relaxing and 44% gardening. So when it comes down to it, people just want to have an outdoor place to unwind that's as comfortable, accommodating, and private as their living or dining room, no matter if they live in Boca Raton, Florida, or Buffalo, New York.

“In Western New York, we only have a few months of great weather when we can actually be outside,” says Langston. “People want to spend more money to create an amazing space outdoors so they can enjoy the nice weather as much as possible.”

Natalie Way is an associate editor at realtor.com. She writes news and advice stories about home buying, decorating, celebrity real estate, and more.

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