It may seem far off, but summer is just
around the corner. It’s time to start planning for its
arrival now. From patios to plants and pools, here are
this year’s top five trends in backyard design.
Patios and Decks
“This year, once again, people want spaces that all work together —
dining area, cocktail or casual areas, intimate areas, such as
fireplaces or fire pits,” explains Jeff Hershberger of David J. Frank
Landscape Contracting Inc. “They also want areas of full sun and shade.
Lighting is an extremely important aesthetic element and can
dramatically impact the area. It sets the whole atmosphere and mood and
always results in higher usage of the area by the client.”
For decks, the big trend is an increase in choices for the customer,
says David Guthery of LandCrafters Inc. “Color choices alone have gone
from four or five board colors less than a decade ago to well over a
dozen now — and all with different degrees of graining,” he adds. “Last
year’s big trend was toward darker deck boards with a contrasting white
skirting and posts. Railing choices are much more (varied) as well, with
cabling, glass, aluminum balusters and varying types and colors of
pickets and caps. The same is true for paving materials for patios and
Green and Growing
More people are adding sustainable, eco-friendly elements to their
garden design, with xeriscaping taking stronger hold in Wisconsin.
Originally developed for dry areas, xeriscaping refers to the idea of
conserving water through creative landscaping. This mainly takes the
form of using materials like permeable pavement, adding efficient and
time-controlled watering systems, and incorporating indigenous and
drought-tolerant plants that naturally adapt to the landscape. Other
steps include substituting areas of turf grass for mulch, adding rain
barrels to capture drainage from gutters, and using bioswales or
indentations in the landscape to steer the rain where it is needed most.
Through the use of perennial plants and composting, xeriscaping also has
the added advantages of lower maintenance and less need for the use of
pesticides and fertilizers.
“We have seen an increase in the number of pools being built,” says
James M. Drzewiecki of Ginkgo Leaf Studio. “Pool projects are normally
driven by whether a family has children older than grade school.
Homeowners should be aware that there are many associated costs with a
pool that aren’t always discussed up front, such as gas and electric
utilities, the paved surface around the pool, and the myriad add-on
options that can make the overall pool cost go up quickly.”
“Pools are great, but too many people start with the hole in the ground
first and then consider what’s going on around it,” cautions
Hershberger. “I always explain to my clients that the highest
consideration should be given to the areas surrounding the pool, as they
will be spending more time around the pool than in it. Pools and water
features can create beautiful focal points in the yard, but also provide
pleasing views from inside the home.”
“We are putting more pools in now than ever,” says Peter Kudlata of
Flagstone Landscaping Inc. “The trend is toward auto covers and dark
bottoms and sides. The darkness provides a better reflection of
surrounding plants and a more subtle look.”
“Outdoor kitchens often now have additional cabinet space, a mini-fridge
or cooler and (a) sink with running water. The latter items don’t always
work well with Wisconsin winters, so we suggest that the client invests
in a high-quality grill island with counter space on either side,” says
Drzewiecki. “My advice is that if you are going to make the investment
into a full outdoor kitchen, then be prepared to cook year-round to make
it worth the money.”
“In addition to the gas grill, the trend seems to be more toward
barbecue and smoking meats with different woods, lump coal or marinades.
Smokers and units like the Big Green Egg are gaining popularity, and
pizza ovens continue to be in greater demand,” says Hershberger.
This year, we will continue to see a rise in the number of gardens that
incorporate edibles into the landscape — varietals that not only taste
good, but look great too. Some of the best to plant for this double duty
are purple eggplants, red or yellow peppers, rainbow or bright lights
Swiss chard, purple ruffles basil, or edible kales like Scottish redbor
or red Russian. Blueberries are not only delicious, but they burst into
color in fall and make great shrub borders. When left to flower,
artichokes and chives have beautiful purple blooms. Consider planting
more than you plan to eat so that you can leave some to bloom.
As more and more
zoning laws allow, Milwaukeeans are also incorporating beehives and
chicken coops into the design of their backyards. Many of these urban
farmers then create communities to share and exchange their harvest,
which includes both honey and eggs.