The most earth-friendly landscaping trends of 2013

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This photo of permeable pavers was taken in the Northbrook School Distract by Karie Angell Luc for Sun Times Media.

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American homeowners increasingly are drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties, according to the 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The results also show demand for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.

Landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements in 2013. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. It all but tied with gardens and landscaped spaces at 94.4 percent.

Across all categories, 97 percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in-demand for 2013, followed by grills (96.3 percent), seating and dining areas (96.3 percent), and lighting (95.1 percent).

"In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards," said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. "They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable."

Besides planting locally and organically, other sustainable elements continue their popularity with homeowners. Native or drought-tolerant plants (83 percent), drip irrigation (82.5 percent), permeable paving (72.8 percent) and reduced lawns (72.6 percent) are making their way into outdoor living spaces across the country.

Decorative water elements-including waterfalls, ornamental pools, and splash pools-were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes (90.9 percent). Spas (81.5 percent) and pools (75.3 percent) are also expected to be popular.

Terraces, patios, and decks are high on people's lists (97.6 percent), as are fencing (89.6 percent) and ornamental water features (84.2 percent).

Americans still prefer such practical yet striking design elements for their gardens as low-maintenance landscapes (93.9 percent) and native plants (86.6 percent), with organic slightly increasing in popularity (65.3 percent compared to 61.2 percent in 2011). In keeping with the local food movement, more people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards (82.7 percent).

Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found atwww.asla.org/residentialinfo.