Every February, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) asks hundreds of landscape architects around the U.S. to forecast the trends in outdoor design for the coming year. The point of the survey is to look beyond industry insider buzz and figure out what designers’ clients are actually asking for. This year’s results are in, and they show people are overwhelmingly concerned with water conservation.
Among the 803 landscape architects surveyed, 88 percent reported that clients seemed most interested in rainwater or graywater harvesting elements. Native plants and native or adaptive drought tolerant plants came in as the second and third trends, respectively. Low-maintenance landscapes was the fourth-most expected trend, and permeable landscapes was the fifth.
None of these trends is new to 2016—or even 2015, or 2014—but Nancy Somerville, ASLA’s CEO, says this year’s survey solidifies project types like rainwater harvesting as more permanent fixtures in landscape design. “Every part of the country is dealing with water issues whether it’s too much or too little,” she says. “It does reflect a much greater awareness from the population as a whole, about critical issues like water conservation and energy efficiency, as well as water efficiency, and stormwater issues.”
The timing makes sense. California is currently preparing for its fifth consecutive year of drought. Faced with the apocalyptic notion that the entire state could run out of water, people have been coming up with conservation ideas left and right. Gadget makers released water-monitoring sensors, an architect pitched an idea to siphon runoff water into a public pool, and the mayor of Los Angeles released plastic balls into the LA Reservoir to block sunlight and prevent evaporation. […]