Sustainability Among Outdoor Design Trends for 2008

Demand will be up for energy-efficient and low maintenance landscapes, according to a survey of leading members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Conducted in December, the informal poll asked leading landscape architects about the top residential and commercial trends for 2008. Landscape architects anticipate a revival of the garden. Lawn maintenance costs -- especially irrigation -- will lead homeowners to consider water-saving features and less of the traditional grass lawn. Instead, gardens will increase in prominence while incorporating more native and drought-resistant plants. These same features also can make a home's landscape significantly more sustainable, ASLA stated.

Cost mitigation will be a major consideration among commercial clients this year as well. Low-maintenance landscapes that utilize native and drought-resistant plants and other techniques to lower irrigation costs will increase in 2008. Building owners also will use more porous paving and bioswales to manage stormwater runoff. All of these elements fit into another trend for 2008: more commercial clients obtaining certifications from green rating systems, such as the U. S. Green Building Council's LEED® metrics.

"More and more landscape architects see a demand for incorporating and quantifying sustainable design -- especially on the commercial side," said Perry Howard, ASLA president. "This is one reason we are creating the Sustainable Sites Initiative, which will give clients and designers the tools and best practices for designing energy efficient, environmentally friendly landscapes."

Sustainable Sites is a partnership between ASLA, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the U.S. Botanic Garden to create a green rating system for sustainable landscape design in all types of projects.

In addition to sustainable design, commercial clients will incorporate more gardens, walking paths or other methods for people to relax and enjoy the outdoor environment. More of these spaces will use the existing natural features and vegetation as well.

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