April 18 2013 03:00 AM

The weather is warming up, and everyone is getting ready to move the fun outside. To make the experience more enjoyable, try one of the hardscape additions that top the list in outdoor design trends for 2013. A recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) indicated that outdoor living spaces earned almost a 95 percent rating in popularity from respondents.

Add an outdoor living room for your clients.  “Adding a roof structure over patios allows people to spend more time in their outdoor space,” said Joseph A. Nardo, owner of Private Paradise Construction in York, Pennsylvania. 

How about adding an outdoor kitchen? Adding certain amenities, such as refrigerators, grills, countertops and concrete seating walls, makes for a versatile outdoor space that can be enjoyed both day and night.

Incorporate sustainable products, such as permeable pavers and rain barrels. Environmental concerns continue to be a strong driver with outdoor projects. Permeable pavers help the environment by allowing rainwater to recharge the ground, reducing stormwater runoff.  Harvested rainwater can be used for multiple purposes, such as watering gardens, replenishing ponds and fountains or washing cars. 

Utilize natural-looking stone products. “Many of our customers don’t like the look of concrete blocks,” said Chip Bunch, president of Shan-Gri-La Contractors in Irvine, California. The natural look of cast veneer stone, coupled with its price point, makes it a product to consider using.

Add versatility to your clients’ backyard. Kits are now available which allow customers to convert their fire pit into a fish pond or an aquatic garden. This enables a feature to serve a dual purpose. Your clients can use it as a heating source in the cool early spring and fall months, and a refreshing water feature in the summer months.

Don’t miss the boat with your clients. As the residential real estate market steadily improves and with the recent uptick in sales, many homeowners are investing more in enhancing their outdoor living spaces. The timing of tax returns and current low interest rates is fueling the growth seen in consumers spending on outdoor living spaces.