For two years, the pandemic kept us in our homes or at least in our own yards. Many of us found getting back to our lawns and gardens was healthy and uplifting. We added bird feeders, planted gardens, and recaptured the quiet of porches and patios. According to a National Gardening Association survey, more than half of us are spending an extra two hours a day outside compared to pre-pandemic days. With the worst of it in our rear-view mirror, the new generation is getting more creative and turning our own outdoors into spaces we can live in.
For 2022, the hottest trends include working outdoors and making our yards into entertainment spaces.
SHE SAID “SHE SHED”
One post-pandemic trend whose time has come is the need for more space for all those new hobbies. If the man of the house wants to reclaim the garage or the lady of the house wants to spread out to accommodate supplies for quilting or scrapbooking, or provide space for yoga, a She Shed is all the rage. Amanda Moore of Moore Liberty Buildings affirms there are also plenty of Man Cave designs in the offing as well, for those who want room for carpentry, fly tying, or space to entertain friends. In 2022, even grownups can have club houses. Amanda says, “People don’t realize how many options there are, but many of our clients enjoy the choices of windows, flower boxes, lofts, and shelving.
Depending on the type and size of your yard, and distance from electrical and water sources, designs can include wiring and plumbing for wet bars and televisions. “We are currently designing a hangout spot with a wet bar so the only limit is your imagination,” Amanda says.
OUTDOOR HOME OFFICES
Experts predict 53 percent of the U.S. workforce are working a hybrid remote set-up this year. For the emerging ‘laptop class’ working in natural light, we not only look better on Zoom, the sunshine is a mood booster.
Outdoor workspaces need some of the same features as an indoor office. Create privacy and shade with dense plantings that muffle surrounding noise and block the neighbor’s view. An inexpensive laptop sunshade or an anti-glare screen protector, can significantly reduce glare and eye strain that is possible even when working in the shade. An outdoor extension cord or power strip will keep things charged, or if you are worried about safety and aesthetics, a portable power bank may be the right solution.
It is also critical to study how far from your router your new workspace will be. A WiFi extender or mesh network can keep speeds up and they typically plug into electrical outlets.
Remember your equipment doesn’t like things too hot or too cold so be sure to create a cool shady spot, and invest in a patio heater or chimenea.
GET FIRED UP
Fire pits have always been a popular backyard feature but this perennial favorite is being updated to the fire table. Generally smaller in size and offering the flexibility of alternate fuel sources—electric, natural gas, and biofuel—their smaller and sleeker look is becoming a modern design trend.
Along with fire pits, grills are also going electric in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of outdoor cooking.
THE RETURN OF BIRD BATHS
Water features are making a splash in front and backyard landscapes. New styles and designs, as well as upcycles and re-purposed elements have re-imagined the humble bird bath, and are giving homeowners something else to enjoy while they relax outside. All birds need a dependable supply of fresh clean water for drinking and bathing, so you are likely to see a greater variety of feathery visitors who don’t eat seeds and wouldn’t otherwise visit your yard.
GO FOR A SWIM
If you’re worried that your dream pool might be too big of an investment, it may be time to start looking at alternatives. An above ground option offers a similar swim experience for much less cost, and they can be taken down and resold when you’re ready to move or upgrade. While above ground does not have the appearance or prestige of an in-ground, landscape design and wraparound decks have caught up with the trend and provide a similar aesthetic for a smaller investment.
A swim spa combines the benefits of water exercise and the relaxation of a hot tub. Generally 8′ x 10′ or larger, these ‘water treadmills’ are low maintenance, energy efficient and, because they are heated, you can use them year round. Most have capacities of ten people or more, so the kids can host a birthday party, or you can have another activity to keep the family busy during a visit. Swim spas fit on a deck or patio, and can also be in-ground. Prices start at about $10,000 and most can be installed in less than a day. Using jets, they create a current that allows you to swim in place or do other water-based exercises, or enjoy as a jet hot tub.