The 10 Biggest Outdoor Living Trends Set to Dominate 2016

Spring is just a few weeks away, so it’s time to get serious about fix-up plans for porches, patios, and yards. To help, here’s a round-up of what’s new and cutting-edge for living with style in the great outdoors during the summer of 2016.

  1. Creative Lighting

    LED Outdoor Lighting

    LED lights can be produced in just about any shape and form, and that’s opened up all kinds of possibilities for outdoor illumination. Look for wireless lamps in interesting shapes—glowing orbs and cubes—and gorgeous string lights that last much longer than the old-school versions do.

    Related: 6 Steps to a Budget-Friendly Porch Makeover

  2. Couches and Coffee Tables

    Outdoor patio furniture

    The term “patio furniture” conjures up metal or wood tables and chairs, but the newest examples would be at home in the coziest, cushiest den. Thanks to advances in waterproof fabric, manufacturers are offering plush sectionals and chaise lounges, with coffee tables to match.

    Related: 10 Doable Designs for DIY Outdoor Furniture

    Zillow Digs home in South Orange, NJ

  3. Countertops for All Climates

    Outdoor Kitchen Countertops

    Another trend showing up in outdoor kitchens are work surfaces that can stand up to any kind of weather. Super-tough engineered stone from companies such as Dekton won’t fade in the sun or wear down from the rain, so they’re ideal material for an outdoor work surface that will look good as new for years to come.

    Related: 8 Ways to Upgrade Your Backyard with Pavers

  4. Finery Underfoot

    Choose an outdoor rug

    For creating a truly luxe al-fresco living space, an outdoor rug is a must. Carpets made in weatherproof materials have been proliferating on the market for a few years now, but this season’s crop offers more colors and patterns than ever. Throw one down to create instant style on your covered porch.

    Related: DIY Ideas to Steal from 5 Easy Porch Makeovers

  5. Compact Gardens

    Vertical garden trend

    Thanks to some new products on the market, even the tiniest urban balcony can produce enough veggies for a summer’s worth of salads. Vertical gardening contraptions that can be hung on a wall or tucked into a corner are a space-saving, low-maintenance way to grow food and flowers and add beauty to a small outdoor space.

    Related: Growing Up—10 Inventive DIY Vertical Gardens

  6. Drinks on Wheels

    Outdoor bar carts

    The bar cart was the trendiest item in the living room in 2015; in 2016, it makes its outdoor debut. Look for retailers like Crate and Barrel and Ikea to introduce weatherized versions of the rolling refreshment station this spring—and look forward to drinks cocktails al fresco all summer.

    Related: 8 DIY Pick-Me-Ups for a Plain Patio

  7. Heat-Tolerant Blooms

    Heat-tolerant flowers

    Chalk it up to global warming, but gardeners have been demanding flowers that can stand up well to hot, dry conditions—and growers have responded in kind. When perusing the garden center this spring, keep your eyes open for new varieties of marigolds, zinnias, and roses that can stand up to harsher conditions with minimal fuss. Requiring less watering and deadheading, they’re better for the environment, too.

    Related: The Invincible Yard—12 Ideas for Lazy Landscaping

  8. Prettier Edibles

    Heirloom tomatoes

    The trend toward mixing vegetables and flowers in a single bed has a long tradition, and has been revisited in the past few years as homegrown food is making a comeback. For 2016, garden centers will be offering edibles that are also eye-candy—pink-striped celery, rainbow-colored tomatoes, and more—so they’ll blend even better with flowering plants and shrubs.

  9. Beyond Grilling

    Outdoor kitchens go big

    Outdoor kitchens have been trending for a while now, but in 2016, they’ll become even more elaborate. Forget just throwing a steak on the grill—you’ll be able to roast a whole chicken in an outdoor convection oven or make pancakes at sunrise on a built-in griddle.

    Related: 9 Creative Ways to Build a Backyard Hangout

    Zillow Digs home in Austin, TX

  10. Color Your World

    Blue shed

    Garden sheds and other outbuildings are traditionally painted white or left in their natural wood tones. Doubling as a tiny studio, this bright prefab version breaks all the rules—and adds plenty of storage space, too! 

    Related: 8 Tiny Backyard Buildings for Work or Play

  11. Don't Miss!


    With a pinch of effort and almost no upkeep, you can have the lush, beautiful garden of your dreams. The secret is to choose plant varieties that enjoy a little hardship. We’ve compiled the essential list of hardy flora, with tips for care and maintenance. Go now!