Social Front Yard
The Functional Front Yard is here to stay. In 2019, we forecasted that more homeowners would turn to their front yards for socializing and gardening, and when the pandemic hit, the trend took hold even faster than anticipated. The front yard is no longer just about visual curb appeal, homeowners are realizing they can increase the liveable square footage of their homes by utilizing their front yards for entertaining friends and neighbors.
37% of Yardzen clients opt to include their front yard in their design plans – no longer focusing solely on the functions of the backyard, but expanding their horizons beyond the front door. Requests for expanded front porches, additional seating areas, and front yard edible gardens have all increased in recent months.
A Sense of Place
High-contrast features are one of the most dramatic approaches to creating a sense of place in the yard. This year, we’re seeing many Yardzen designers use the interplay of blacks and neutrals to create a yardscape with perspective.
One of our favorite implementations of this trend is the mix of a black fence and neutral hardscape, like gold pea gravel, shown here in the yard of Yardzen client Coco Tran. In this space, our designers worked with a limited budget to create a dramatic transformation. To do so, they relied on the power of black paint and inexpensive gravel to give the yard an entirely new look and feel with a clear architectural viewpoint.
Especially before replacing any features in your space, try painting them. We’re seeing an increase in homeowners wanting and willing to paint over existing features in their yard to give a new look to an otherwise dated shed, deck, or fence. Paint has the ability to transform, and darker colors for outdoor spaces are gaining popularity in 2021.
As dark fences are trending, so are dark exteriors overall. It’s not just an aesthetic choice, it’s a preventative way to protect from future damage to the home’s exterior. Painting a home is recommended every few years, depending on the material and your local climate, and homeowners are abiding.
The End of Open Concept
People were already re-thinking ‘open concept’ before 2020, and the pandemic fast-tracked the desire for more walls in the home. Whether to create separation from spouses in a new WFH situation or kids tackling Zoom school in the kitchen while you’re preparing lunch, more walls = more privacy.
The trend is making its way into outdoor spaces: the yard no longer serves as one single-serve space, but rather a multi-functional extension of a home. Distinct ‘rooms’ are being created in the yard, designating specific areas for dining, working, exercising, gardening, and more.
Pergolas are a perfect solution for designating areas for specific activities. Both prefab and custom pergolas are being included in designs as a way to create independent spaces within your yard – in fact, Yardzen is on track to see almost 4 times as many pergola requests in 2021 as we did last year.
As more and more summer vacations are being enjoyed in the backyard, many Yardzen clients want to bring some element of resort life into their home and yard. For some, this means a new pool, but for many who are conscious of cost and water consumption, we’re seeing the plunge pool become a top choice for transforming the backyard into a destination.
Plunge pools come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. Also known as Cocktail Pools, these are a great option for yards with a smaller footprint, families seeking an affordable alternative to a traditional pool, and homeowners who are conscious of water consumption. Despite their size, they can be high-impact: the perfect place to “sip and dip” or relax on a pool float.
Stock tank pools, or ‘hillbilly pools’, are a popular, affordable option that fit in just about any outdoor space. You can find a stock tank for around $400 at your local feed store, or online. We’re also seeing many new companies online who offer custom stock tanks and stock tank parts, like filters, which help extend the life and usage of the pool.
Annually, grassy lawns consume trillions of gallons of water, millions of gallons of gas, and millions of pounds of pesticides. With so many homeowners dedicated to conserving water and as a reaction to state and local water mandates, hardscaping, like gravel, is growing in popularity.
Not only is gravel one of the most water-conscious choices you can make for your yard, it’s low-to-no maintenance, aesthetically modern and extremely versatile. Yardzen is known to include large prefab pavers in many of our designs, as well as gravel patches to define areas in the yard. Because they’re both permeable, they’re water-smart, too. Landscape Architect and Yardzen Design Director, Kevin Lenhart, on gravel:
“Gravel is inexpensive, looks attractive in a number of different landscape styles, and is easy to install. It comes in a broad range of colors, shapes and sizes, and can easily be repeated elsewhere in a design to build a cohesive aesthetic. Gravel also allows water to quickly drain through it, and slows the flow of overland water, leading to improved drainage and reduced flooding risk relative to solid paved surfaces. The trick is don’t go overboard – tasteful application here and there is lovely, but large expanses of gravel can be expensive and a little bleak in the wrong context.”
Moditerranean Moves Outside
Moditerranean = modern Mediterranean. Initially intended for interiors, Yardzen is seeing this trend take shape outside. Moditerranean yards feature clean lines, neutral colors, and cool-toned plants, like olive trees, pollinator-loving rosemary, and agave (a traditional Mediterranean plant). This style has become one of Yardzen’s most requested.
The modern elements of Moditerranean strips down the more traditional look and feel of Mediterranean style into its most simple and elegant elements. We often use greige-toned hardscaping in moditerranean yards, like pea gravel and concrete pavers, and style with a mix of new and vintage pieces in woods and metals, to create the quintessential Moditerranean.
Even if you don’t live in a climate suited to more traditional mediterranean plants, there are several substitutes for colder climates that will help you achieve the appropriate look and feel.
The New Patio Furniture
When homeowners are redesigning their outdoor space, they’re investing in brands that have a strong sustainability mission. Whether it’s brands that construct furniture out of recycled materials, or commit to donating a percentage of profits to conservation efforts, in 20201 homeowners are voting with their dollar to support outdoor brands that care about the earth as much as they do.
Heightened sensitivity around sustainability has paved the way for an increase in homeowners desire to invest in durable, consciously constructed outdoor furniture. In the past year, we’ve seen an influx of new brands that specialize in outdoor furniture: Yardbird, Outer, and Neighbor are Yardzen partners that are dedicated to building furniture that reduces waste by ensuring quality for seasons to come.
As an extension from what we saw from Yardzen clients in 2020, Rewilding is top of mind for homeowners in 2021. Many homeowners are looking for low-maintenance, natural outdoor spaces, and ‘rewilding’ your yard with native and climate adapted plants is an easy way to restore pollinator-supporting habitats without becoming a full-blown beekeeper (for now, that is).
Yardzen is committed to continuing these practices through the American Rewilding Project. Most Yardzen clients opt to keep all remaining trees in their yard, a testament to the growing desire to maintain and restore wildness in backyards across the country. To learn more about Rewilding, watch Yardzen’s CEO, Allison Messner, chat with Design Director and Landscape Architect, Kevin Lenhart, about sustainable design and simple ways to rewild your yard.
Edible gardening is another trend (turned passion, for many) born of the pandemic. By no means are we suggesting that gardening didn’t have a place pre-covid, but we’ve seen more homeowners use that time to learn the craft, hone their skills, and expand space in their yards dedicated to gardening. Themed gardens, specifically, have found a place in American yards in 2021:
Immunity Gardens: this year, everyone wants to take control of their own health. Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables that aim to support immune systems, have grown in popularity exponentially and will continue to do so. Some of our favorite immunity-boosting plants include: Echinacea, Garlic, Ginger, and antioxidant-rich berries.
Cocktail Gardens: to make up for lost time, in 2021, we’re all looking for reasons to gather with friends and family. Homeowners are coupling their newfound love of gardening with their eagerness to entertain. Cocktail gardening includes yielding popular beverage ingredients like mint, basil, and rosemary. While this might sound like a typical easy-to-grow herb garden, with the right recipes in hand, this garden lends itself to specialty cocktails for every occasion.
Kid-friendly Gardens: to involve the whole family in this newfound love of gardening, homeowners are creating space for more easy-to-grow edible plants like tomatoes, bell peppers, snap peas and cucumbers. These plants require less intensive maintenance and yield quick, satisfying results in terms of size and flavor.
With vaccination rates increasing, so are homeowner’s desire to entertain friends, family and neighbors!
Many parks and schools closed over the last year, we’ve seen requests for kid-friendly features like treehouses and other play structures increase. Many kids will continue on the course of remote learning through 2021, meaning their extracurricular activities regularly provided by schools will remain limited. Plus, more parents and kids have learned that fun and adventure can be had in their own backyard, so we don’t see the trend shifting anytime soon.
Family traditions that began in 2020, like outdoor movie nights, are trending to become staples in the future. Our designers are including more spaces for projectors than ever before, indicating that the bonding moments of last year won’t soon be abandoned. Whether it’s family-friendly movies on the lawn, or group gatherings to watch your favorite sports teams battle it out, the yard is trending to become ‘The New TV Room’.
Summer isn’t the only season for backyards. As a result of 2020, we’ve seen a deep desire for year-round backyards and increased requests for all-weather designs. For example, in Seattle, homeowners are inquiring about specific solutions to be able to work and dine outside, should the weather call for rain.
In geos that experience harsher winters, clients are trading their fire pits for outdoor fireplaces – a more permanent structure that invites outdoor entertaining, even in the middle of winter. In warmer climates where summer mosquitos are a barrier to spending time outside in the yard, our team is diligent to include mosquito-repelling plants, like citronella and lemongrass, within the landscape design.