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Home Away From Home: Top Local Trends in Outdoor Living

Now more than ever, homeowners are taking their outdoor spaces to the next level by creating oasis-like areas as an extension of their homes. From pavers to plants to kitchens, we’ve caught up with the experts of outdoor living to find out what the latest trends are in the Orlando area. When it comes to what plants are popping up in landscapes across the region, palm trees are obviously a staple. But homeowners are aiming to add as much color as possible into their landscapes and to make them functional.

“Edibles were up-and-coming for quite a few years and now they’re definitely mainstream,” says Jennifer Nelis, director of communications and public relations at Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA). “People from all walks of life and all over the country are becoming proficient in growing their own herbs and veggies right alongside their flowers.

“Design-wise, it’s very trendy to get them out of the veggie garden and into your home landscape. And having a small space is no longer an excuse— we see from coast-to-coast urban dwellers with little to no outdoor space maximizing what space they do have by going vertical. Their yards can leave you speechless.”

“This time of the year, a lot of people are looking for perennials, anything that’s colorful,” says Dottie Nellis, owner of A Sun State Trees. “A lot of people are looking for plants that attract butterflies.”

Nellis says most of their customers are going for a paver patio or paver driveways. “If they are going to [take their landscape to] another level instead of a routine thing, it would be pavers,” says Nellis.

Christine Wright, hardscape consultant at Flagstone Pavers, says larger paver patterns are gaining a lot of popularity right now. “Multi-sized pieces such as our Traverstone that comes in 9×15, 9×12 and 9×9,” says Wright. “Travertine flooring on the inside that opens up to a lanai/pool area needs to flow with what’s on the exterior, so the larger paver units are meeting this need.”

Pavers aren’t just for people who need a stylish decking option for in-ground pools, either. “Backyards without pools are an empty canvas that with hardscape can be turned into a masterpiece of a backyard area,” says Wright. “Entertaining outside has never looked so beautiful with our hardscape offerings.”

Wright says she has also been seeing seating walls, fire pits, columns with lighting, and even fireplaces as rising trends in outdoor living. Wright further adds that pavers pair up nicely with outdoor kitchen areas, even if that just includes bench areas for outdoor seating and encasing grills with Flagstone’s Rumblestone & Rumbled Wall products.

Nelis says when it comes to homeowners and their backyards, they can have the works.

“The top of the spectrum for outdoor living really includes expansive outdoor living spaces equipped with full kitchens, ‘living’ rooms with sofas, and seating for the entire crew and incredibly high-end lighting,” says Nelis. “Typically, there’s an amazing pool space, too—and maybe incredible water features. The use of high-end LED lighting can really take the space into another dimension and add a whole new vantage point to the space, too.”

Nelis says whether homeowners want simple seating areas to ultra high-end designs, the ideas for outdoor enjoyment as part of your home is universal. “From simple sitting areas, to fire pits, to yoga gardens—plant-centric areas are indeed on the rise,” says Nelis. “Great design isn’t limited to just homes, either. You can see some pretty great public spaces out there, too.”

“With the rise in the economy, there’s a noted uptick in spending related to outdoor living,” Nelis adds. “It’s great people are rethinking their outdoor experiences.”