Outdoor living trend continues in UK gardens

New research reveals that 59 per cent of homeowners are prioritising outdoor living as the biggest influence in their overall outdoor project design.

The 2016 UK Houzz Landscaping Trends Survey includes insights from nearly 1,000 UK homeowners who are in the midst of, planning, or who have recently completed an outdoor project.

The annual study found that the majority are updating structural elements (90 per cent), outdoor systems and equipment (82 per cent), and beds and borders (80 per cent). Due to the significance of these projects, over a third of outdoor upgraders are enlisting the help of a landscape contractor or gardener and/or landscape architect/designer for their projects (34 per cent).

Garden makeovers are having a significant impact on British outdoor living, with 81 per cent reporting that they spend more time outside as a result of the upgrades. Homeowners are also relaxing (78 per cent), eating (70 per cent) and entertaining (67 per cent) more in their new outdoor spaces. Gardening is no longer the top use of outdoor space1, however, Brits now prefer to relax in their outdoor spaces (70 per cent) ahead of tending to their gardens (65 per cent) and enjoying family time (36 per cent).

While having a garden that is easy to maintain is the top key functional consideration among UK upgraders (67 per cent), outdoor living is the biggest design priority (59 per cent), followed by having a stylish and beautiful space (51 per cent). As such, homeowners are buying comfort-enhancing outdoor products such as outdoor furniture (58 per cent), barbecues (40 per cent), fire pits (28 per cent), patio heaters (13 per cent), and pizza ovens (8 per cent). Of those who incorporate lighting, 80 per cent say they do so to illuminate features and create a better ambiance, whereas 71 per cent say they want to create a more enjoyable and relaxing space.

"More than half of outdoor renovators spend five or more hours a week in their gardens, motivating them to invest in major features that transform the outdoors into additional living spaces," said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. "Flowering plants, LED or solar lighting, and hard landscaping in place of lawns are some of the popular choices that all help to support outdoor living."

Additional findings include:

  • New Home, New Garden –  A recent home purchase is the top trigger of outdoor projects (41 per cent), while many are responding to a deteriorated space (25 per cent). Others wait until the right moment, by either having the finances (24 per cent) or the time on their hands (25 per cent), before embarking on a desired project.

  • Projects Span All Budgets – When it comes to minor projects, the majority of homeowners budget or spend less than £2,500 (93 per cent). More substantial projects require higher budgets and 39 per cent plan to spend or have spent above £2,500.

  • Pets - Outdoor updates which take pets into consideration are important, with 57 per centmaking pet-related upgrades. Creating space for animals to run and play (27%) and planting toxin-free plants are most popular (21%).

  • Child Friendly - About four out of five outdoor renovators are making child-related updates (77 per cent). Practicalities such as space to run and play (44 per cent), edible plants (25 per cent), and fencing around the garden (24 per cent)  are prioritised.

  • Spring - March and April are the most popular months for UK homeowners to embark on an outdoor project (22 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively). Planning begins 4 months or more ahead for the majority of outdoor renovators (67 per cent).

  • Plants –  UK homeowners are prioritising flowering plants during their upgrades, with flowering (71 per cent), low maintenance (59 per cent) and plants that attract wildlife, such as bees and butterflies (58 per cent), being the top plant characteristics.

  • Lawn - Homeowners with an existing lawn are making big changes to their green spaces, with 22 per cent reducing their lawn size and 12 per cent removing it altogether in favour of garden beds (54 per cent), hard landscaping (48 per cent) and outdoor structures (43 per cent).

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