When it comes to the future of landscape architecture and design, you needn’t look further than your own backyard. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), there is a growing demand in the industry for extended outdoor living spaces and design elements: fireplaces, lighting, internet connectivity and even sleeping spaces. Consumers are eager for creative and luxurious solutions for outdoor entertaining and living, outspreading their homes into nature.
Louisville landscape architect Josh Myers, owner of Myers+Co. Landscapes, concurs that he has seen that demand increase among his local clientele. “Fortunately,” he says, “there are beautiful and functional ways to extend the use of your outdoor entertaining spaces long after Labor Day.” Most notably, incorporating full-service kitchens, grills, brick ovens, ample counter and food prep space, televisions and refrigerators is no longer a desired afterthought for homeowners and is a design service that extends beyond what many may initially interpret as landscape architecture.
“My ultimate goal as a landscape architect,” Myers notes, “is to bring the architecture away from the walls of the home and make it look like it belongs there.” This extends beyond traditional yard or garden maintenance but certainly includes those ambiance-enhancing services as well. Lighted landscapes are an additional outdoor living trend that has found an embrace in the local market. “The tech-savvy customer is willing to explore dramatic and creative ways to light their outdoor space,” he explains. “LED lighting is more cost-upfront to install but is one of the easiest things that can result in long-term savings.”
Whether a project is large or small, Myers has noticed that almost all busy clients are striving for low maintenance when it comes to their outdoor space. This includes materials chosen for outdoor living areas. “More and more people are approaching these environments as they would interior design and looking to replicate indoor materials, choosing tile that is consistent with the appearance of hardwood floors or porcelain tile flooring. Of course there are time-tested natural materials for these surfaces, but with traditional pine or cedar decking, you are looking at yearly maintenance as opposed to other composite options. Ipe decking is extremely popular right now.” The two most important deciding factors in making material decisions, he says, are cost and maintenance, with maintenance typically emerging as the decision-maker.
While water issues tend to be a hot landscaping topic nationally, Myers indicates that conservation projects are still slow to gain interest in Louisville. “While I am approached about using plants that are tolerant to the local humidity and reduced lawn area, which are sustainable elements to a project, I only see pockets of rainwater harvesting or water-efficient irrigation projects. These aren’t yet embraced by most consumers locally. I hope to see the demand for that increase.”
With so many talented local artists in Louisville, Myers does see a trend toward incorporating garden art into more formal spaces whether that be a sculpture piece or fountain. Also – in keeping with the trend of low-maintenance – container gardens and, in some cases, edible landscapes, continue to grow in popularity and, he says, are the perfect way to add seasonal color to the front of a home. “More homeowners wish to represent the fall holidays within their seasonal landscaping. It’s grown beyond just placing a few pumpkins at your doorstep.”
One place that Myers hopes we will all soon be able to look toward for landscaping inspiration is the Waterfront Botanical Gardens for which he is on the planning committee. The vision to create a garden and conservatory of extraordinary beauty may be only in the early stages of planning and fundraising but will serve to engage Louisville with plants and nature and promote an appreciation for a sustainable world. VT
Myers brings a unique perspective to any project as a designer, site engineer and landscape architect. For more information about his portfolio and company, visit