It is currently July and we have reached our halfway point for the year. Most people try and predict what the top hardscape and landscape trends will be either at the end of a season for the upcoming year, or at the beginning of that year. We prefer to look at it halfway through. By then we have a pretty good grasp about what people are asking for in bids, what pictures are coming across our feeds, and what we are actually building for our clients. In our opinion 2016 is all about the outdoor lifestyle and experience. Here is our take and top 5.

Paver Patios – 2016 has seen a big shift moving towards installing paver patios vs. decks. Their ease of maintenance and upkeep as well as their durability in our freeze / thaw cycles here in Colorado makes them surpass other materials on the market such as stamped concrete. There are many types pavers to choose from to satisfy clients looking for that “old world” tumbled look, or those that prefer a clean smooth and modern plank, as well as everything in between. Pavers can be mixed with the wide variety of color choices and textures available. They can be cut and set into various patterns to look like rugs or define and separate spaces. Permeable pavers are also being utilized in new commercial parking lot applications and driveways to help with stormwater management.

Curved circular paver patio in Fort Collins, Colorado by Summit Hardscaping
Circular paver patio installed 7 years ago.

Porcelain Pavers – Porcelain pavers from companies such as Belgard’s Mirage line are blowing the competition out of the water with their unique and modern pavers imported from Italy. They are resistant to freeze/thaw, chemicals, and stains due to their high density and low absorption rate. The tiles can withstand loads over 2000 lbs. and therefore are more invulnerable to breakage. The Mirage porcelain pavers provide a unique alternative to natural stone or wood flooring, and truly allow a client to bring the feeling of the indoors outside.

Belgard Lafit Rustic paver patio with brick seat wall and custom pergola.

Pergolas and Shade Structures –  Pergolas and shade structures continue to be a steady build item in our area. They provide the finishing touch over a patio and provide necessary shade to the back or side of a home. Cut metal panels in decorative designs added on the top or the sides of the structure can provide unique and artistic touches to the landscape. Hang some annual flower baskets to cascade over the corners of the pergola and you have instant charm. For those clients who need the shade but don’t want the upkeep of a wooden structure, we have seen an increased use in shade sails with metal poles. The poles allow the sails to be pulled taut and tied at varying heights depending on the direction of the sun. They can be taken down in the winter and packed away until next Spring.

Outdoor fire pit
Outdoor fire pit

Fire – Fire pits, fireplaces, fire tables, fire bowls, and even built in BBQ’s and brick ovens. Gas, wood, or propane, the options seem endless. Once considered to be “high end” there is a fire option out there now for every budget. Adding a fire feature to your patio allows you the opportunity to enjoy your outdoor living space both earlier and later into the season. Who doesn’t enjoy roasting marshmallows with the kids, or snuggling in front of the fire with a blanket and a drink once the sun is down? Colored glass, and materials such as concrete, natural stone, and various metals, can all complement the style of your home. Custom built in BBQ’s and brick pizza ovens added to the corner of a patio award you the aromas that can only come from the experience of grilling outdoors. We have been using natural sandstone slabs custom cut from the quarry to add additional countertop space around the BBQ. Countertop space is something everyone seems to need and never has enough of when juggling BBQ tools, and platters full of  various ingredients. Our favorite recipes for grilling and making homemade pizzas outdoors come from Sunset Magazine and Chicago Brick Oven .

Lighting – Landscape lighting is like the cherry on top an ice cream sundae. The ambiance and the warm glow the lighting casts upon a patio adds the finishing touch to the outdoor lifestyle. Once the sun sets and the lights come on, the magic on your patio happens. You are giving your guests the full experience and leaving them wondering why it feels so comfortable. This effect can be achieved with cafe lights strung from a pergola overtop the patio furniture or a table. It can also happen when path, step, and up lights all work together to create that luminescence you sense when you are in a special location on vacation or dining al fresco at your favorite restaurant. A lot of clients will overlook the lighting option on a bid. They don’t see it as a necessity. That being said, we have had more than one client come back after a project has ended and tell us it feels like something is missing. Once we add low voltage lighting, suddenly the whole landscape feels complete.

Gas moss rock boulder firepit

As Coloradans, we enjoy being outside. We love building outdoor living spaces that reflect our client’s lifestyles, and capturing that aesthetic with their landscape so they can enjoy it all year long. Whether the space is vast and expansive or cozy in nature, there is trend for everyone in 2016.