Avid decorators know winter’s end kicks off spring’s gardening season. Plan ahead now to get your outdoor space ready for summer fun. Here are 5 hot backyard, garden and residential landscaping trends from Toronto’s recent Canada Blooms and National Home Show.

1. Room to play

From a bootcamp inspired “exercise garden,” to a discovery-focused natural playground, tomorrow’s residential landscaping trends encourage activity as much as they do relaxation. These multipurpose areas work hard to make the most of their space.

Landscape Ontario’s Outdoor Exercise Garden display at Canada Blooms boasted design features that doubled as workout tools: retaining walls perfect for box jumping;

paver patterns designed as markers for cardio activities; and arbors and gazebos equipped with suspension bars.

Meanwhile, Bienenstock’s natural playground feature space proves that child’s play can be as beneficial to outdoor design as it can be to childhood development. With forest-inspired touches and hardwearing natural surfaces, it’s a yard to be lived in, not just admired.

2. Water features

They never really went away, but water features were a recurring theme at this year’s show.

Streams and waterfalls were popular, helping set the mood at a number of feature spaces, including the luxe lounge vibe of Genoscape’s Adults Play At Night space; the quirky rusticity of Vandermeer Nursery and Earth Art Landscape’s Fairy Frolic landscape design; and the Zen aesthetic of the J. Garfield Thompson Japanese Influence garden space.

Besides the soothing vibe they bring to a yard, water features have the added benefit of masking street or neighbourhood noise, and providing refreshment to songbirds, butterflies and dragonflies.

3. Residential landscaping trend #3: Fire features

Upgrade your chiminea because it’s not going to cut it anymore! From ethanol-burning urns, to ornate natural gas or propane fireplaces, fire features are one of the hottest residential landscaping trends going. Invest in a piece that channels that high-end indoor-outdoor vibe; it’s the perfect way to update your outdoor room.

Aquaspa Pool & Landscape Design’s Backyard Sanctuary display included an outdoor kitchen and bar/lounge with a large stone-clad fireplace that took pride of place in the social space.

4. Bars

Almost, but not quite OTT (over the top!), University Pro Landscapers’ My Backyard Oasis feature space included the ultimate in hotel-style backyard amenities: a swim-up bar.  Though the swim-up bar may not for every homeowner, bars themselves have much to offer: a space to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails, a social area close to the grill where guests can mingle with the chef before moving to the dining table.

5. An outdoor screening room

Central Canada has such a short outdoor season, so it makes sense to get the most out of it. To that end, why not turn your backyard into an open-air TV room?

Landscapes by Lucin’s Stonedene Retreat mounted a flat screen on a lattice, using a backdrop of evergreens for a true alfresco feel, while Aquaspa Pool & Landscape Design enhanced an outdoor lounge vibe, setting their TV over the fireplace mantel.

Sheltered outdoor rooms are the perfect spot to perch a wall-mount flat screen. Today’s super-comfortable outdoor lounge and conversation sets (and don’t forget that outdoor fireplace!) make it possible to linger in comfort.



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