Spring is in the air, and summer is knocking on the door. As one season blends into another, Americans are motivated to give their outdoor spaces a good bit of spring cleaning and maybe a makeover.

With plans being made for outdoor entertaining, stores like Lowe's and Home Depot are witnessing a healthy rise in sales. Along with intensive cleaning, tidying and decluttering to make the outdoor space an attractive one, there is also a surge in demand for garden furniture and other garden-design items. All in all, a busy season ahead for homeowners and outdoor retailers alike.

The 2014 Houzz Spring Landscaping Trends Study shows a steady rise in demand for outdoor living spaces. This in turn has meant increasing investment in the segment, good news for retailers and designers alike. The study found that over 56 percent of homeowners are planning updates to their existing outdoor spaces.

Among the respondents to the survey, 83 percent mentioned that they consider their backyard an ideal entertaining space, and the same number would like to add patios and decks to make their backyards more suitable for both entertaining and as a family hangout. In this effort, they are adding features like BBQ and fire pits, outdoor kitchens, sound systems and myriad lighting systems, along with planting new flower beds and gardens.

Therefore, it is not surprising that more and more new homes feature outstanding backyards. In 2014, 63 percent of architects reported that outdoor living spaces are hot items in a new home or in the renovation plans for an old one. About 25 percent of existing homeowners are planning to remodel or enhance their outdoor spaces. As a result, the outdoor furniture segment has seen a healthy growth to about $4 billion in sales.

The rising demand and popularity of the outdoor segment was well established in the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. While gardens and landscaped spaces received a 94.2 percent rating in popularity, outdoor kitchens and entertainment spaces came a close second with 92 percent, among all other design elements.

This is just a small taste of the market demand that is to come. More homeowners are looking at great outdoor spaces, as much to increase the value of their property as to make living in it more entertaining and fun.

Trends in consumer purchases show how outdoor entertainment has evolved with the times. 2015 will see a fantastic blend of new technologies and products in the area. Consumers are no longer bound by heavy products and cumbersome cords to make way for entertainment. With smartphones, laptops and tablets, music and media are readily available for outdoor entertainment, anytime we want them.

It seems that this demand has also blurred the lines between indoor and outdoor design. Diminishing distinction between indoor and outdoor furniture and accessories has made it easier for new homeowners to invest in outdoor spaces much earlier than they planned. Some of the upholstery and accessories can be used anywhere in the house around the year.

Of course, no discussion about outdoor entertaining is complete without talking about grills. As the recent Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo revealed, this will be a year of reckoning for the grilling industry. Consumer Reports' experts noticed some distinctive trends like:

  • Newer, better and advanced features on grills
  • Increased demand for ceramic as well as wood-fired pizza ovens
  • High-end fire pits on the anvil

What these products have revealed in turn is a summer full of fun and foods, lots of cozy family gatherings and posh parties in the offing. The 2014 State of the Barbecue Industry Report has shown that 87 percent of American homeowners own outdoor grills while 60 percent of use their grills year round — figures that are surely meant to go up in the upcoming summer season.

For homeowners looking to upgrade their outdoor spaces and equipment, this is a good time to shop around as more stores are offering deals everywhere. From colorful patio rugs to candles and lanterns, there is something on offer for everyone now.

But it's not just entertainment, fun or retail boosts that make for good news this season. With more homeowners making eco-friendly choices for their backyard, this summer may see more efforts toward environmental benefits than before. Increasing demands for green LEDs and solar-powered lights, native plant choices that will benefit the environment, growing edibles and opting for special grass and lawns that will save on water bills are some of the items on homeowners' agendas this year.

The times have changed, and so have American homes.