Thrill customers and boost revenue with these landscaping trends


  • Home buyers say they’re willing to take less square footage if they can get more landscaping.
  • Conservation is top of mind for homeowners and buyers as they look toward native plants, low-maintenance landscapes, and water-efficient landscapes.
  • Edible gardens and multi-functional outdoor spaces are key global trends in landscaping for 2018.

Residential landscaping improves curb appeal, provides privacy, and extends the living area to the outdoors. Outdoor space is also very important to home buyers as 56 percent say they’re willing to sacrifice square footage to get a bigger yard, according to a survey commissioned by Taylor Morrison, a home builder and developer. Landscaping and residential contractors can find customer-pleasing, revenue-boosting options in these 2018 landscaping trends from the American Society of Landscape Architects’ membership survey.

Native Plants

You only need to look to nature to see the advantages of native plants. If something grows naturally in your microclimate, there’s a safe bet it will do well in your customers’ landscapes. This year, 83 percent of surveyed architects said their highest demand items were native plants and plants adapted for drought tolerance. Native plants also figure into another trend this year: rain gardens. A natural low spot is an excellent spot for a rain garden. Rainwater runoff helps native plants thrive while beautifying the landscape in these otherwise troublesome dips.

Low Maintenance

Homeowners don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining their landscapes. Therefore, whatever you can do to reduce the work will pay off. One clear method is to avoid using grass, opting instead for stone, gravel and plant-based mulch. Choose dwarf, slow-growing shrubs to reduce pruning demands. Place plants where they will easily fit when full grown, and select perennial flowers over annuals to minimize the yearly flower bed maintenance.

People are increasingly aware of water shortages and water quality, so consider using efficient watering systems like drip and rain collection.

Counsel your customers on the benefits of waiting for their landscapes to fill out instead of overplanting. Explain that it reduces the need for massive pruning and removing plants because they’ve outgrown their spaces.

Water Conservation

People are increasingly aware of water shortages and water quality, so consider using efficient watering systems like drip and rain collection. Consider permeable paving for driveways, walkways and patios. Downsize water-hungry lawns. Rely on drought-tolerant and native plants. Counsel clients on xeriscape principles and follow proven water-saving practices like grouping plants based on their water needs and maintaining healthy soil.

Sensors can help, too. Many irrigation systems have moisture sensors you can place in the soil. They help avoid overwatering and reduce fungus growth while encouraging deeper plant roots.

Food for Thought

The demand from consumers for places where they can grow their own vegetables, fruits, and even nuts is getting greater. Almost 71 percent of architects rated food growth a trend this year. Blending structures with plants is also popular. Grapes growing over arbors and climbing roses on trellises marry aesthetics with food and fragrance. You might also answer the call for food-growing space by offering plant walls, vertical gardens, and rooftop gardens. Another trend in this space is catering to the disabled and the elderly by offering accessible gardening options.

Structure It

Consumers are keenly interested in atypical railing systems. Railings that use cable, glass, and combinations of metal and wood can spruce up common decks and stairways. Pergolas are also in demand and so are decks and fencing.

As the Baby Boomers continue aging and spending more time at home, there is more demand for outdoor accessibility items like ramps, grab bars, and furnishings that accommodate people with reduced mobility.

People want multi-use outdoor spaces where they can live, work, and play. Click To Tweet

According to Kiplinger, 87 percent of home buyers say they want a patio in their landscape. Patio paver trends include porcelain pavers instead of concrete. They’re lighter and offer a more consistent cut, according to Residential Products Online. Arbors, play structures, porches, pavilions, utility sheds, and gazebos round out the landscape structure trends.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals also released its guide of the top landscape trends for 2018, and some of the items mirror those predicted by ASLA’s survey of landscape architects. Landscaping designed for the climate and water conservation came in number two and number three in NALP’s guide. Topping the NALP list was experiential landscape design, which begins and ends with function.

Design for Functions

People want multi-use outdoor spaces where they can live, work, and play. It’s no longer just a barbecue grill on an open deck. Today, people want areas for cooking, dining, and relaxing that have all the necessary amenities. Specialized lighting and audio/visual systems make the outdoor space just as functional as the indoor one. And, when it comes to exterior lighting, Kiplinger reports that 92 percent of home buyers consider it a must-have.

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