According to a recent ASLA study:
"Home owners will be adding firepits and fireplaces for outdoor entertaining in 2007. And they, along with commercial building owners, will be paying a lot more attention to environmentally-friendly landscape options, such as adding native plants and managing stormwater more effectively, according to a new survey of ASLA award recipients from recent years.
"The informal survey conducted in December, identified the most popular requests from homeowners and commercial clients for 2007. For homeowners, firepits and outdoor fireplaces top the list. Also popular are requests for sustainable solutions, such as using native plants that require less watering and maintenance.
"Homeowners are requesting landscape architects design complete outdoor rooms, such as kitchens and bars, for entertaining. Water features such as koi ponds, pools, and fountains continue to be popular. Incorporating rain gardens and green roofs in home landscapes will add a different – and more sustainable - flavor to 2007 homes.
Steve Martino, FASLA, of Phoenix—recipient of both the ASLA Design Medal and the ASLA Residential Design Award of Excellence in 2006—cites private living spaces, outdoor rooms, and water features as top homeowner requests. He also says that clients are coming to him for 'green solutions' for their homes."
For my part, I find it interesting that the same folks who want "sustainable" solutions also want environmentally un-friendly features such as fireplaces and firepits. After all, wood-burning fires contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gases that accelerate global warming; and gas-burning fireplaces deplete natural resources as well. I'm one to talk: I've included firepits in designs, and plan to build a fireplace for my own back yard. I suspect the greater issue here is of people (landscape architects included) not really understanding what "sustainability" really means. I'll explore this idea and offer a few resources in future posts.