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M|O Perspectives

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Latest landscape trends reflect limited resources and modern lifestyles

May 25th, 2016

Like all design, landscaping is adapting to substantial shifts in sustainability as well as the new way people work in and around the built environment. One of the biggest national trend we are seeing is in native landscaping. This type of landscape design allows for climate-matched planting supported by sustainable amounts of irrigation. As resources become more limited, landscaping styles will continue to reflect this larger environmental issue.


Here are some other landscape trends that are also impacting the look and feel of the outdoor spaces that serve to inform and highlight the buildings in which we work and live each day.

Drip irrigation: Code changes in drought-stricken parts of the country, as well as an increase in environmental awareness by building owners, are driving a surge in drip-irrigation applications. Used in new construction as well as renovation projects, irrigation-system design improvements are allowing for a significant reduction in water use. Drip irrigation works by allowing our most precious resource to be directed only to where it is absolutely necessary: the plants.

Rain sensors: In another effort to reduce irrigation water use, rain sensors are now being incorporated into more landscape designs. Once an outdoor space has received an adequate amount of rain, these sensors automatically shut down irrigation systems to conserve water. Leveraging new technology, the innovative landscape frameworks are now coming with wireless monitoring, including largely invisible hardware that is easy to maintain. The systems are also becoming more common as new building codes mandate their use.

Workable outdoor spaces: Supporting a trend in the "outside becoming the inside," new developments are transforming previously underused outdoor spaces into areas where tenants can gather formally or informally. The provision of wireless services coupled with ubiquitous mobile devices is making it possible for people to do real work while still enjoying outdoor elements. Building owners and architects are now designing highly planned and productive outdoor seating areas featuring lighting, work surfaces, and charging points.

Artificial turf: This is not your father's AstroTurf! Over the last decade, man-made turf systems have improved dramatically in both aesthetics and durability. Driven by countrywide water restrictions, as well as enticing rebates from water agencies and cities to cut consumption, this modern, highly realistic artificial turf is all the rage, especially in areas plagued by drought.

These are just a few advances in the way indoor and outdoor environments are working together to support modern living. As an integrated architecture, engineering, and construction consulting firm, Marx|Okubo is constantly tasked with considering how spaces inside and out can work more synergistically. Have a landscaping project that needs direction? With extensive experience in outdoor environments, our experts are here to help.


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Marx|Okubo is a national architecture/engineering/construction consulting firm that works with real estate owners, investors and lenders—at every point of the property lifecycle—to evaluate their building projects, solve complex challenges and implement tailored solutions. We help clients understand their projects’ complexities, so they can make more informed decisions and, ultimately, mitigate their risk.