Trend shows many giving lawns the custom treatment.

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Gone are the days of cookie-cutter lawns and hedges. The latest survey by Houzz, the home design and remodeling mega-platform, suggests that homeowners are all about customizing their property.

The 2017 U.S. Landscape Trends study suggests that homeowners are making major changes to their front yards.

The survey also indicated that more and more outdoor projects are the result of new homeownership instead of something needing to be repaired.

The survey was taken by 1,000 Houzz users from across the country, according to Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz.

It was sent to users in February and March and included homeowners who had completed an outdoor project in the past year, are currently working on the project or plan to start one in the next three months.

Of those surveyed, 23 percent were subject to restrictions by a homeowners association and 5 percent by a neighborhood association.

“The biggest change [over last year] is the trigger for outdoor projects,” Sitchinava says. “Those who recently purchased and wanted to customize their home jumped from 25 percent to 33 percent.”
She attributes this trend to a rise in home sales.

According to the survey, 44 percent of outdoor projects involve street-facing spaces. Thirty-six percent had said their front yards were nearly identical to their neighbors’ before re-landscaping.
After the projects were done, only 6 percent said their front yards are nearly identical.

“That’s a huge drop,” Sitchinava says. Homeowners want their landscaping to make a statement, to stand out and also be livable, she says.

The survey also indicated that beds and borders (47 percent), shrubs (29 percent) and perennials (28 percent) are the most important features of a home’s curb appeal.

“We’re seeing a growing trend that the grass is coming out,” Sitchinava says. “There’s a growing trend toward low-maintenance plantings as well as native plantings. People are taking a more natural approach to outdoor space.”

About three-quarters of those surveyed said their projects include low-maintenance plants.

And while Californians are twice as likely to tear out their lawns, the trend is gaining traction in other parts of the nation.

“Other parts of the country are facing more volatile weather patterns where non-native plants don’t stand up as well,” Sitchinava says.

Of the 75 percent of homeowners who said they have a lawn, 76 percent said they are making changes to it —  especially in the front yard. Of those removing their lawn, 26 percent are removing it in front and 9 percent in back.

Artificial lawns are losing popularity. Only 5 percent of homeowners replaced their lawns with artificial turf, compared with 8 percent in 2014-15.

The two most popular system updates are to lighting (45 percent) and irrigation systems (37 percent). And it’s no surprise that 70 percent of projects have an LED (light-emitting diode) element.

“That has been a staple in the last three years,” Sitchinava says. “I think it’s a no-brainer at this point. LEDs have become quite affordable.”

What is surprising, however, is that one in five homeowners are choosing smart technology with their updates in order to control their lighting via mobile device or computer.

Keeping up with consumer trends is why Houzz conducts the yearly survey, now in its third year.