Splendor in the Grass: Four Outdoor-Space Trends

California landscape designer Pamela Berstler shares four trends for innovative outdoor spaces.

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berstler-private-spaHide CaptionShow CaptionPrivate bathing areas are the next trend in outdoor spas.
1. The Spa Retreat

One of the fastest growing design trends is integrating a private bathing experience into the garden, whether it’s a beautiful cedar Japanese soaking tub or a small outdoor shower. One easy way to create a more intimate feeling is to situate a spa within a garden setting instead of placing it in the more traditional public space adjacent to the swimming pool. For those on a modest budget, place a freestanding claw-foot bathtub in a private area near a bedroom and run hot/cold water to the faucet for a unique and romantic bathing experience.

Two technological advances have contributed to the wider acceptance of these private outdoor bathing areas. First, above-ground spas have come a very long way, both aesthetically and functionally. Second, radiant floor heating—once used only indoors or to thaw driveways in freeze zones—has contributed to the growth of this trend. In radiant floor heating, hot water runs through tubes embedded in the concrete of the floor, making walking on the floor substantially more enjoyable, even on a chilly evening.