It's official. 2016 is all about la vida alfresco -- the outdoor life. According to a January 19 article in Yahoo Finance, industry analysts predict the living lawn market will top a staggering $5.7 billion by year's end.
The key to creating the ideal, outdoor living space is to go with the flow of your surrounding environment and its ever-changing seasonal contours. With summer upon us, our Mad Hatter team has whittled down the top 5 trends for designing a fully integrated backyard oasis for those long, sultry days and firefly-twinkling nights.
1. Organic insecticides
The number one "buzz" kill of outdoor summer living is mosquitoes. Sadly, the only thing worse than the blood-suckers themselves is the noxious-smelling, toxic pesticides used to keep them at bay...until now.
2016 is the year of non-toxic insecticides, like those made from pyrethrum - the organic extract of chrysanthemum flowers. These health-friendly repellants effectively neutralize the Zika-carrying mosquito, along with countless other biting pests - while being harmless to helpful insects such as bees and butterflies.
The most popular summer entertainment spaces have three things in common: they're stand-alone, open-air, and versatile. The pergola incorporates all three, inviting unobstructed views while also protecting from heat, rain, lightening, and other adverse elements.
Pergolas resemble the wall-less, skeleton frame of a house. The sides are typically wood beams, while the rooftop is whatever suits your style and budget; from canvas canopy, exposed bamboo beams, latticed teak, and even tin!
A timeless, romantic option is to cover a thatched pergola rooftop with shade-bearing flora like vibrant bougainvillea or leafy wisteria.
As for the sides - consider adding diaphanous, tie-back curtains, retractable all-weather window screens, or colorful fabric panels.
Beat the heat with standing-, wall-mounted-, or ceiling fans.
After a few thousand years, this ancient architectural mainstay is making a serious comeback. Modern courtyards run the gamut, from elaborate open air atriums to cozy alcoves carved out of unused parts of a driveway, patio, deck, or retaining wall.
Today's courtyard is enclosed, with a central, exposed area for star-gazing and socializing. They can also contain a covered space such as a pavilion, pergola, gazebo, pool house, etc. for accommodating an outdoor kitchen, grill, dining area, entertainment nook, and on.
Further channel the ambiance of summer with TIKI-torches, hanging lanterns, rope lights, outdoor votives, picnic tables, hammocks, and on.
4. Hybrid grills and outdoor kitchens
Nothing epitomizes summer like BBQ cookouts. A top choice for the job is the hybrid grill: it uses a combination of charcoal, wood and gas so you can slow-cook an entire brisket overnight - or sear a dozen steaks in under 10 minutes at 800 degrees.
For the serious epicurean, the growing trend is a Michelin-worthy chef station; a fully-integrated kitchen complete with stone backsplashes, multiple grills, ice chests, refrigerators, pot racks, and on.
5. Low-maintenance gardens
What better way to enjoy summer than picking fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits from your very own garden - and then preparing home-made salads, cold pastas, gazpachos and guacs with them?
But - who has the time?
The solution is a low-maintenance garden: A simple, no-till, single raised bed made from cinder blocks or wood pallets can yield hearty perennials and herbs your entire family will appreciate.