By Brack Johnson



Summer in the Triangle. Ahhhhh! Whether you have an acre in Orange County or a patio in downtown Raleigh, this is the time of year to pay attention to the space just outside your four walls.


Want to make your ordinary backyard extraordinary? Check out the design trends below. If they appeal, think about how to use them to transform your simple space into an oasis.


Thoughtful gardens
Less pow. More wow. Ostentatious displays are out. Quality and natural materials are in. How does your garden grow? With sustainable design, such as increased drought-tolerant plants and decreased turf. This saves water, money and time.


Bountiful harvest
Blending edibles with ornamental plants in your yard is a win-win. The garden looks wonderful and you get a cornucopia of fruit, vegetables and herbs.




Outdoor rooms
Backyards that function as permanent living spaces are getting more popular every year. Lighting is no longer a second thought. It's purposefully designed to add ambience to the landscape.


Outdoor fabrics made from acrylic fibers allow for cozy furniture. Choices for couches, seats and swings include the traditional cast iron and wicker but also aluminum and teak. Splashes of bright color, such as lime and orange, pop against warm neutrals.


Hydro power
Relax to the calming hum of H2O. Attention-grabbing water features range from a playful, portable fountain to an elegant water wall to an eye-catching swimming pool. If you do take this major plunge, don't forget the swim-up bar!




Cute stuff
Homeowners are getting back to the earth by taking steps to bring the birds and the bees (and even the chickens!) to their outdoor spaces.


Remember to add a gazebo, pergola, playground or whatever untamed structure your imagination can dream up.


Eco-friendly features live alongside organic materials and designs, such as stones, curves and warm colors.


No matter the season, the warmth of a fire makes your backyard user-friendly. Consider a fire bowl or fire table, both of which come in a variety of sizes and styles sure to fit any space.




Outdoor TVs, projector screens, audio systems...the sky's the limit. Prices have been coming down, so what were once customized luxuries for the 1 percent are becoming more widely available.