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During his 25 years in the field, landscaping expert Dean Bjorkstrand has learned to identify both enduring outdoor characteristics as well as trends that will pass with the season.

In recent years, Bjorkstrand has noticed an increased focus on eco-friendly design. Permeable pavers, which reduce storm water runoff, are seeing increased use for landscaping. Minneapolis residents, where Bjorkstrand calls home, are also favoring outdoor rooms, using patios to increase living space. These areas are frequently embellished with fire pits, landscaping, and other elements that give them an organic feel and visual interest.

"Having a design that looks beautiful from the road is always important," explains Bjorkstrand. "I always design for curb appeal and functionality. The result is a useful space that also increases property values."

Design giant HGTV also gives homeowners some insight and tips into the latest direction of landscape design.

First, sustainable landscaping is about embracing your area’s climate. This is where drought-resistant plants enter. Many areas of the Southwest and West have high temperatures and low yearly rain fall, leading to a need to plants that can brave the heat. Instead of soaking a struggling lawn with wasted water, consider planting succulent plants and landscaping with stone.

Urban farming has also become a growing trend that is sure to stay. Edibles can even take a proud place front and center in garden beds. A properly maintained vegetable garden can be delightfully beautiful. The best part? You can eat it!

Urban farming goes one step further with the addition of chickens! Many HOAs and cities allow you to keep a few of these fun pets. They can be a great way to add life to your own backyard.

HGTV reports another trend in outdoor living is quality versus show. What does this mean? This could be symptomatic of a society that is now choosing to stay put and upgrade existing homes instead of taking on a new homes. Homeowners want outdoor spaces that will last and be enjoyed for years to come. They are choosing smaller, more quality projects as opposed to large showy displays of wealth.

Lastly, homeowners are incorporating water features. These fountains, coy ponds, and pools can help balance the flow of energy through your outdoor space as well as add a refreshing and relaxing element to evenings on the patio.

The lines between indoor and outdoor have become blurred in recent years. Outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, and weather-resistant fabrics have made outdoor spaces an extension of your home. You can style these "rooms" in pillows and throws, candles and lanterns, and even add in kitchen spaces that will make living in the open air a true joy.. or selling point!

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