Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate
Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate

Top Backyard Trends For 2015

Written by Than Merrill

Summer is upon us, and that means homeowners across the country are gearing up for warmer weather. Outdoor patios and living spaces will soon be occupied with people hosting neighborhood barbecues and various social gatherings. That also means that prospective homebuyers will be looking to take advantage of homes that are adequately prepared to host an outdoor event. So whether you are a homeowner or a rehabber, the summer months offer the perfect opportunity to upgrade your backyard. Our partners at CT Homes have taken the time to highlight some of the most sought after backyard trends of 2015:

Lounge Space

Lounge in backyard of home

It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish lavish interior living spaces from functional outdoor lounges. The lines that once separated the two are now nothing more than a nostalgic memory. The two are practically indistinguishable from one another. Homeowners, now more than ever, are looking to incorporate indoor elements into their backyard designs. In fact, functional outdoor living spaces have gone from a luxurious amenity to a must-have in today’s homes. It is no coincidence that comfortable, outdoor lounge spaces have made the list of top backyard trends for 2015.

Whether you are a homeowner looking to create your own private retreat, or a rehabber trying to increase a property’s resale value, outdoor lounges can generate a lot of appeal. Of particular interest, however, are the profit margins they have become synonymous with. Outdoor lounge space has proven, time and time again, that it can help increase property values and investor spreads. Even adding something as simple as a wooden deck can retain value at resale. In 2015, the average deck addition cost approximately $10,048. The average resale value of said decks was $8,085. Those who added decks recouped an average of 80.5 percent of their cost, enough to place wooden deck additions fifth on a list of the most popular remodeling projects that retain value in 2015.

However, it is no longer enough to stop there. The deck or patio needs to feel like an extension of the interior. That means it must boast comfortable furniture that looks like it belongs inside, but can also withstand the elements it will be subjected to. The addition of a wall-mounted flat screen TV and a cozy fireplace will also go a long way in helping you bring the indoors outside. Of course, pay close attention to the weather patterns in your area, and make sure each addition is equipped to handle the outdoor elements.

At the very least, an outdoor lounge will maximize your home’s functional living space. Click here to get an idea for your own home.

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchen

Generally speaking, you should never think twice about remodeling your kitchen if there is room in the budget. The return on such an investment has been well documented. In fact, it has been said that a proper kitchen remodel can recoup as much as 80 percent of the cost it took to complete it. However, can the same be said for outdoor kitchens? Many real estate experts are of the same belief: yes.

Some have speculated that an outdoor kitchen investment can bring an even greater return, with a ceiling as high as 200 percent of the initial investment, although a few considerations must be borne in mind. The success or failure of an outdoor kitchen is entirely dependent on three things:

  • The scope of the project: Increased functionality will certainly increase the return on investment when it comes time to sell. Plumbing, in particular, goes a long way.
  • The location in which the home resides: Two aspects are taken into consideration when evaluating the location of an outdoor kitchen: price range and geographical relevance. The addition of an outdoor kitchen needs to make sense for the area of the country it is in. The relevance of an outdoor kitchen is not the same in Baltimore as it is in San Diego or Los Angeles. The weather certainly needs to warrant it. Subsequently, if all the houses in your immediate area are valued at $100,000 for instance, and an outdoor kitchen increases your home’s value to $150,000, you’ll probably have a hard time getting full value for your home.
  • The intangible valuation of the owner: The appeal of each individual homeowner plays a big part in how the additions are valued.

In other words, if all the criteria are met, the addition of an outdoor kitchen could be one of the best moves you can make as an investor/homeowner.

Again, 2015 is the year to bring your indoor living space outside. Since we already suggested creating a subsequent lounge area outdoors, why not do the same with the kitchen? The two complement each other, and make for an entirely new experience. Outdoor kitchens, much like that of the exterior lounge, have transcended the concept of a trend. Today, they are every bit as amenitizied—and sometimes even more—than the indoor kitchen. They may as well be a necessary part of your next remodel.

Water Features

Waterfall dropping into a pool

As discussed, the most popular backyard trends of 2015 suggest introducing indoor elements to outdoor spaces. We have already touched on kitchens and lounge areas. However, it is important not to lose touch with why you are making changes to the area in the first place: to get back to nature and experience the home in a whole new light. That said, there still needs to be a natural element to your outdoor living spaces. The perfect backyard seamlessly blends indoor elements with those of the natural world around them. What better way do this than with the addition of a water feature?

Whether you are trying to reduce the noise coming from an obnoxious neighbor, recreating your favorite natural wonder, or just trying to harness the relaxing nature of your surroundings, the addition of a water feature is a great way to increase functionality and interest in your backyard. In fact, water features have been growing in popularity for years. They are by no means a new addition to 2015’s list of top backyard trends.

Water features can simultaneously enhance landscape designs and your bottom line. According to, for every dollar spent on upgrading a backyard or outdoor space, a homeowner can expect to get back anywhere from 60 cents to two dollars. With up to 14 percent added to the home’s resale value; on a $500,000 home, which is nearly $75,000.

Landscaping Materials

Walkway in backyard

The landscaping of a backyard can set its entire tone. Some yards can mimic lush, tropical rainforests, while others are equally impressive concrete landscapes. That said, landscaping is a very subjective concept, and is specific to each individual homeowner. There is really no correct way to landscape a yard that makes everyone happy. However, the concept of landscaping is not what is trending at the moment, but rather the materials being used.

One of the top backyard trends in 2015 is large pavers. Stained and stamped concrete also remains popular as a way to achieve a high-end look that mimics stone for a minimal cost. Either way, landscapers are focusing on oversized paving elements in 2015.

According to HouseLogic, “Matching patio pavers to the style of your house creates continuity that boosts overall appearance and helps preserves value. Brick and manufactured pavers are traditional; natural stone is more country casual.”

“When I bring a buyer to a home that features state-of-the-art landscaping and elements like a fire pit and high-end pavers, there’s an immediate assumption that the inside of the house will be as spectacular as the outside,” says John Duffy of Duffy Real Estate. “Now we have research that shows that homebuyers will pay a premium for a nicely landscaped property, particularly one that features elements like an outdoor fireplace and finishes in stone or brick. The new mantra in home buying is location, location, landscape.”

Aside from pavers, homebuyers are increasingly turning to grass alternatives. With droughts continuing in many regions of the country, homeowners do not want to have to worry about the cost of maintaining a lawn. “Want a picture-perfect lawn? Maybe fake grass is the answer,” said HouseLogic. “It solves watering, weeding, and fertilizing woes. Synthetic grass for landscaping and recreation is growing 10% to 15% a year in the U.S.”

Data suggests that water-conscious landscaping can use up to 50 percent less water than their conventional counterparts. Of course, the actual amount of water saved will vary based on the amount of turf removed, the type of plants installed, the irrigation system and the soil type. That said, it is important to landscape accordingly.