Readying Your Outdoor Living Space For The Warmer Months? Greensboro Landscape Architect Shares What’s “Hot” In 2016

Posted on | March 29, 2016 | No Comments

As we delight in the warmer temperatures that spring has greeted us with, our thoughts at North Carolina Design inevitably turn to our outdoor living spaces and all of the wonderful possibilities they will soon offer us. But first we must know – what is new and exciting in backyard getaways these days? To find out, we turned to Greensboro landscape architect Lori Hawkins of Hawkins Landscape Architecture. As an exceptionally talented professional and a born people person, Lori thoroughly enjoys collaborating closely with her clients to help them achieve their goals and she is well in tune with their desires and preferences.

Images Courtesy of Hawkins Landscape Architecture ©

Lori notes that when it comes to landscaping, the word of the day is custom. “It’s not about keeping up with the neighbors,” she reflects. “And, we’re even seeing a shift toward the modern. It’s not about a specific style,” she reflects. “It’s about creating an ideal outdoor space for your family – something that provides a sense of comfort and beauty, that feels like home, and answers all of your functional needs.”

One area in which function and comfort are key is the outdoor kitchen. “For the past five years or so, homeowners have really focused on making their outdoor kitchens a superbly functional extension of their living space,” she tells us. “They are incorporating all kinds of great features, like high-end grills, wood or gas pizza ovens, and smokers. I’ve had several requests for The Big Green Egg. I build a special platform for it so that it blends right in with the design.”

According to Lori, today’s homeowners use custom fire and water features to make their outdoor spaces feel like a relaxing and luxurious getaway. “There’s a demand for pools and spas with vanishing edges,” she says. “Homeowners are also asking for pools with beach entrances, where the water starts out flush with the ground and gradually deepens, just as it does at the beach. They can place chairs at the water’s edge and sit right with their kids as they wade or swim.”

“There’s also a demand for tanning ledges. These are elevated platforms within the pool where you can set up a beach chair and an umbrella and read, relax, or soak up some sun. As far as fire features go, people are really interested in a wide range of selections, from coffee table styles, to fireplaces, to fire pits, and they all run the gamut when it comes to style. People are very focused on custom fire features that meet their needs and fit the design, rather than pre-fabricated selections.”

People are fine-tuning their outdoor spaces through technology, as well. “High-definition outdoor TVs are very popular, but very expensive,” she notes. “I’ll often take a regular TV and placed it in a custom built all-weather encasement. People are also very interested in the idea of automation. You can automate just about everything in your space. If you’d like to surprise your sweetie with a romantic evening outdoors you can warm up warm up the spa, turn on the fire feature and adjust the lights – from your car.”

While people are going high-tech with some aspects of landscaping, they are returning to simpler concepts for others. “People are very concerned about sustainability,” offers Lori. “They want products that are good for the environment. They want native plants, less pesticide and less water waste. They want to incorporate recycled materials and install rain collection systems. They’re willing to swap out sections of their lawn for gravel, which can withstand foot traffic and requires no water and no fertilizer or pesticides.”

Some people are taking the sustainable idea to new levels and creating landscapes that “give back.” “Edible landscapes are increasing in popularity,” notes Lori. “With these, it’s so much more than a box garden – we have to come up with unique ways to incorporate vegetables and fruits into the landscape itself so that they add structure, color and interest.”

What Lori likes most about the direction landscaping has taken is the knowledge today’s homeowners bring to the table. “They’re so savvy, and so passionate,” she says. “They know about sustainability. They know about fire features. They understand design concepts. They’re not just asking me to come create a design for them. They’re collaborating with me in a really meaningful way. I love it – It makes the process more fun, and the design turns out so much better.”

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