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Trends in Backyard Design: What's Hot Now

By: Gretchen Roberts

Update your patio, deck or backyard with what's new in outdoor design.

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Mainstream Sustainability

Low-maintenance gardens, drought-tolerant plants and less turfgrass have become the norm in landscape design. Homeowners now assume sustainable design will be a major part of the plan — both for economic and environmental reasons. In this California design by Barbara Paul, plants were chosen not only for their gorgeous cottage-garden beauty but also for their tolerance of dry summers and wet winters.

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Edibles, Front and Center

Blended gardens that incorporate edibles and ornamentals do double duty, giving gardeners a bountiful harvest of fruit, vegetables and herbs and an alternative to turfgrass. Edible gardens also create community as urban farmers share their bounty around the neighborhood.

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Better Quality, Less Bling

Post-recession: Over-the-top, showy landscapes are out. Now, homeowners prefer to invest in quality and natural materials. Here, scale is key to a good design, says landscape architect Kerry Burt. The eight-foot cedar posts add heft to this arbor.

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Like a Fish to Water

We love the sound of water in the garden: water features from inexpensive self-contained systems in an urn or portable fountain to a high-end water wall are popular across all budgets. Water feature designed by landscape architect Chad Robert

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