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The hottest outdoor design trends for 2014

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The first official day of spring (March 20) is oh-so-close. Visit a hardware store right now and chances are you’ll spot dozens of customers pacing the landscaping and gardening area, chomping at the bit to begin their next big outdoor project.

Outdoor living spaces can add a certain je ne sais quoi to any home, even if they can only be enjoyed for part of the year. To get a better sense of what homeowners are pining for this year, the the American Society of Landscape Architects conducted a survey of 179 professionals across the country, asking them which projects and features they felt would be most in-demand.

If you’re a building professional who wants to finish your next home with some real wow-factor in the yard, take notes:

Outdoor Design Elements (Overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

  • Gardens/landscaped spaces – 94.2%
  • Outdoor living spaces (kitchens, entertainment spaces) – 92.0%
  • Outdoor recreation amenities (pools, spas, tennis courts) – 75.8%
  • Sustainable design practices – 74.2%
  • Vegetable/fruit gardens – 72.4%
  • Turf lawns – 54.0%

Outdoor Living Features (Overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

  • Lighting – 98.3%
  • Seating/dining areas – 97.7%
  • Fire pits/fireplaces – 95.4%
  • Grills – 94.3%
  • Installed seating (benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 89.6%
  • Outdoor furniture – 84.1%
  • Counter space – 75.5%
  • Utility storage – 65.5%
  • Stereo systems – 60.7%
  • Wireless/internet connectivity – 56.0%
  • Sinks – 55.0%

Landscape/Garden Elements (Overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

  • Low maintenance landscapes – 95.4%
  • Native plants – 84.5%
  • Fountains/ornamental water features – 83.9%
  • Food/Vegetable gardens (including orchards/vineyards etc.) – 76.4%
  • Xeriscaping or dry gardens – 69.1%
  • Organic gardens – 64.0%
  • Ponds/streams – 60.0%
  • Rain gardens – 58.3%
  • Rooftop gardens – 53.1%
  • Plant walls/vertical gardens – 49.7%

Outdoor Structures (Overall rating for 2014)
Percent Rating Popular or Somewhat Popular:

  • Terraces/patios/decks – 97.7%
  • Fencing (includes gates) – 88.5%
  • Pergolas – 82.8%
  • Decks – 82.3%
  • Ornamental water features such as fountains or splash pools – 81.6%
  • Arbors – 81.1%
  • Steps – 77.7%
  • Porches – 74.4%
  • Kitchens/ovens – 71.4%
  • Art (sculptures, murals etc.) – 64.4%
  • Play structures (tree houses, swing sets, etc.) – 60.6%
  • Utility sheds (tool sheds, garden sheds, etc.) – 59.0%
  • Pavilions – 56.6%
  • Gazebos – 48.5%
  • Awnings, including retractable – 47.7%