Many homeowners started vegetable and herb gardens after the pandemic. This was to avoid shopping at supermarkets and to create a hobby. When travel was restricted, many people started to take up gardening to get outside exercise and stress relief. The demand for pools led to long waits, sometimes exceedingly long, for their installation. In-ground pools were also more expensive.

As the pandemic enters its third year, gardens and swimming pools remain popular. However, homeowners are taking it to the next level. Many homeowners are adding outdoor living spaces to their homes, creating more places for socializing and work.

Some people want more privacy. This is what Angela Mayfield, an agent with Better Homes & Gardens, believes. A TurfMutt Foundation poll found that nearly three-quarters of home buyers want a large yard.

Joe Raboine, a Belgard Residential company that manufactures concrete pavers, and retaining walls, states that regardless of what yard project homeowners choose to undertake, the most important thing is design and installation. Steve Chepurny, a Southampton-based landscape architect of Beechwood Landscape Architecture and Construction, adds another essential: good organic soil.

Here are some tips for home buyers as spring approaches and the buying season heats up:

1. Better view

Landscape professionals are increasingly being asked to design gardens they can enjoy from their homes as the trend towards work at home continues. Two requests from clients looking for a beautiful view from their office windows were received by Evanston, Illinois-based landscape architects Ryan & Claire Kettelkamp.

Ryan says that birds are their co-workers and that one client requested bird feeders. Glassman states that sometimes all it takes to bring a garden into focus is a large window with few or no mullions. A good lighting system with LED bulbs allows night views and saves energy.

2. Fresh air is the best for working

Two years of being stuck indoors has made homeowners more eager to move outdoors. Kettelkamp suggests a Wi-Fi booster to make outdoor spaces functional. Marc Nissim, landscape architect at Harmony Design Group, Westfield, N.J. suggests an outdoor Wi-Fi booster, as well as a worktable and chair for comfort, a pergola or pavilion to protect the area, and, if necessary, speakers and a TV.

A second option is an accessory dwelling unit. This is for people who need a structured area that allows them to work in their yard, according to Paul Haden, founder of C2 Collaboration Landscape Architecture in San Clemente. He says California has made ADU approval much easier.

3. Plan a pool

Even though costs have increased by up to three times in certain areas, there is still a lot of interest in swimming pools. The most popular style is the classic rectangle, which Nissim calls a “Hamptons appearance”. It’s best for swimming laps and can be fitted with an automatic cover. Others prefer in-ground gunite designs. Vinyl, fiberglass and shipping containers are more affordable options that may reduce the time it takes to install.

Modern landscape design has made pool lighting a much more important part of the landscape. Sometimes, lights are floating in water, according to Greenwich, Conn.-based landscape architects Janice Parker. For underfoot comfort, Nissim prefers bluestone or marble with grass. Glassman states that an adjacent spa, or “spool”, is a bigger version of a spa and not a pool. It allows for a different type of water enjoyment.

4. You want less maintenance

Many homeowners want landscape and hardscape materials that are easy to maintain so they can spend their time on other things. There are many examples: Steel overhead covers require less maintenance than wood. Although faux wood can be costly, Durawood and lightweight aluminum can replace wood. Glassman also says that brick and stucco masonry posts require less maintenance.

Hardscape floors are often more durable than bricks and don’t need to be repainted. Raboine says that pavers of larger sizes require less grouting and are more straightforward to install. This is especially important in times when there is a shortage of labor in certain markets. Chepurny prefers porcelain tiles for this reason. He says that they also have a contemporary, clean look and come in large formats.

5. Focusing on entertainment

Parker says that outdoor spaces could be a good option for homeowners who want to socialize again. She says that while people used to want to entertain indoors in order to avoid bugs and inclement weather, now everyone wants to entertain outdoors.

It is becoming a trend to divide outdoor spaces into functional, quasi rooms. Kettelkamp says that depending on the area and budget, a cooking zone could include a grill, or additional bells and whistles, such as a fireplace or pizza oven to prepare on an open fire.