As you’re thinking about how to best design and maintain your lawn and garden, it can be helpful to take note of the top trends in landscaping.

Every year, the Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey is conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, or the ASLA. This year, landscape architects across the country rated how popular certain design elements and landscaping fixtures would be in 2016. Over 800 architects responded, and they overwhelmingly echoed that the trends of the year are all about sustainable, low-maintenance designs that can reduce water and electricity costs to homeowners.

We will be talking about the ten projects that topped this year’s trend list, and the percent of landscape architects who voted for them. Let’s dive into the top five today, and check back soon for five more awesome top trends in landscaping for 2016.

  • Rainwater and graywater harvesting – 88%. Because there are many things you can do with harvested water, including watering your own lawn and garden, it’s no wonder this trend tops the list. Many folks ask us about the difference between rainwater and graywater, and when to use each. Rainwater is fresh water, just fallen from the sky. You can use rainwater in your garden, toilet flushing, and laundry. Graywater is water that has been used once already, like water that comes through your shower, dishwasher, or washing machine. Graywater can be used for watering your lawn, and for flushing your toilet. If you’d like to recycle your graywater, make sure you use graywater safe products. And as a special note, most kitchen sinks produce blackwater, not graywater, and this water is not safe for recycling due to the bacteria that can be produced when preparing uncooked meats. When considering what is graywater, it’s almost everything except the kitchen sink, and of course, the toilet!
  • Native plants – 86%. Native plants grow naturally in your region without human intervention. Some of these plants you will see just popping up in your yard, and others are easily cultivated since they are indigenous to your temperate zone. Local landscaping architects will have a good sense of what these plants are, and can help you select the ones that will thrive and flourish best in your own lawn and garden.
  • Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants – 85%. With sustainability as a top trend, it’s no surprise that drought tolerant plants are in the top three trends of the year. These plants need little extra watering, and can often survive with just natural rainfall. Drought-tolerant plants are ideal for people who are very busy, forgetful, or who split their living time between locations. Some popular drought-tolerant in North Carolina are butterfly milkweed, climbing asters, Carolina lilies, and eastern prickly pears.
  • Low-maintenance landscapes – 85%. Who doesn’t prefer low-maintenance landscaping? With half of Americans working more than 40 hours per week, keeping it low maintenance in this day and age is a must. Shrubs and tolerant grasses can look beautiful, and not require a lot of upkeep. Drought-tolerant plants can also fit in this category, since they don’t need you to vigilantly water them.
  • Permeable paving – 77%. Perhaps you’ve heard of permeable paving, but weren’t quite sure what it meant. Permeable paving includes a variety of porous, sustainable materials that allow water to move through the base and subbase. This type of paving not only helps reduce excess runoff water, but it also can trap pollutants from water. Talk to your landscape architect about the types of permeable pavers that would be most appropriate for your property.

Check back next week for five more top trends in landscaping, and comment below with your guesses about what else is on this list.

Trends in Landscaping: Part 1

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