The U.S. wants good-looking landscapes that don’t tax the environment. So say respondents in a couple of polls conducted for professionals who create and maintain residential and commercial landscapes.
Sustainable design literally got the green thumb in a recent American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey of landscape architects, who were asked to rate the expected popularity of residential outdoor design elements for 2016. Environmentally sustainable landscapes that reduce water costs and are low maintenance were at the top of the list of the 2016 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey.
Americans want a well-maintained landscape
Last year, Americans felt it important to have a yard, keep it looking well-maintained and live in an area with nice landscaping. A study conducted by Harris Poll for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) last summer found that 75 percent feel it’s important to spend time in their yards, and not just older generations. Despite the perception that the younger generation is only focused on a high-tech lifestyle, nearly three quarters of Millennials think spending time outside in their yards is important.
The results further support that residents and prospects find value in well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing landscapes at apartments. SatisFacts Research further drives the point home in its 2016 SatisFacts Annual Survey Index, which notes that cleanliness and overall quality – which includes landscapes – are among the top 10 key factors in deciding to rent at a property.
According to NALP, 83 percent of Americans think having a yard is important and 90 percent of those who have one believe it needs to be well-maintained. Those who live in the South and Midwest feel more strongly about that than Northeasterners.
Not only is it important to have a clean, uniform landscape, but knowing that your neighbors have them is essential. More than 90 percent want to live in an area where they can see or walk to nice landscaping, and most think the Joneses should have well-maintained yards.
And, the majority says the quality of the home’s landscaping would affect their decision about whether or not to buy.
Sustainability continues to be important
To boot, sustainability is important. In recent years, landscapers have pushed green landscape designs that utilized natural resources and plant life indigenous to the region, largely in part because of persistent drought. While U.S. drought is not as severe now, sustainable practices are still in vogue.
The hottest sustainable design elements include rainwater/graywater harvesting (88 percent), native/adapted drought tolerant plants (85 percent) and permeable paving (77 percent). Native plants, native/adapted drought tolerant plants and low-maintenance landscapes are also favored.
Some even feel less is more: 72 percent of landscapers who responded favored reduced lawn areas.
Water-focused design elements dominated the Top 10 and reflect consumers’ growing commitment to landscapes that reduce water use and storm water runoff, says Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA.
“Water issues are hot topics for many communities, and many people are turning to landscape architects for creative green infrastructure solutions,” said Somerville. “Sustainable residential landscape architecture, if part of a broader integrated site design, can dramatically reduce water usage and storm water runoff over the long term while creating a healthy residential environment.”
Investing in an apartment landscape a wise choice
In recent years, more focus has been placed on extending indoor living to the outdoors. Fire pits/fireplaces, lighting and wireless/internet connectivity rank high on what consumers want. Pergolas, decks, arbors and fencing are expected to be the most popular outdoor structures.
A high quality landscape is not only in demand but statistics show that a fine-tuned outdoor area adds value to a property. The addition of trees, shrubs, walkways, outdoor seating areas and lighting can bump the value of a property 10-12 percent, say real estate professionals. Some push that number as high as 20 percent.
All things considered, not only is investing in an apartment landscape a wise choice but simply maintaining it can pay dividends in terms of renter retention and new business.
Sounds like a can’t-lose proposition.