Every year the American Society of Landscape Architects surveys residential landscape professionals to rank the relative popularity of a wide variety of design features to be included in outdoor living spaces. This year, lighting, firepits, and areas for sitting and dining were expected to be the most sought-after enhancements for outdoor spaces.

Check out the list below to find out what else topped the list for 2011, and get ideas for your backyard for 2012.

Kichler Outdoor Landscape Lighting

Outdoor lighting (rated as popular for 2011 by 96.2% of the respondents) allows you to enjoy your backyard both day and night and creates an inviting atmosphere.

Landscape lights along pathways and walkways make it easy for you and your guest to reach sitting areas safely.

Outdoor lighting fixtures provide ambiance and adequate lighting for entertaining on your patio or deck at night.

Photo courtesy of Kichler Lighting

Fire pits/Fireplaces (94.2%)
Lexington Firepit from Brookstone

Outdoor firepits and fireplaces create the perfect nighttime gathering spot to relax, eat and drink, and share stories. They also let you enjoy your outdoor living space throughout fall and early winter.

Portable firepits come in a range of styles and materials, including wrought-iron, stainless steel, and copper to match any backyard.

Built-in firepits and fireplaces can be finished in stone or brick and add a custom look to your outdoor space.

      Photo courtesy of Brookstone

      Seating/Dining Areas (94.1%)
      Pride Family Brands Electra Cushioned Outdoor Dining Set

      Having various places for people to sit and socialize extends your living space to the outdoors.

      Outdoor dining options range from small Bistro sets for two people to large patio dining tables that seat up to 12.

      A simple wooden bench offers the perfect place to catch up with an old friend.

      Cushioned chairs and a few side tables encourage group conversation.

          Photo courtesy of Pride Family Brands

          Grills (93.8%)
          Performer Grill by Weber

          The grill is a backyard staple. There’s nothing like a summer barbecue with family and friends.

          From freestanding carts to complete grilling islands, there’s a grill to fit every lifestyle and budget.

          Fuel options include propane, natural gas, electric, and charcoal.

              2011 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Used with Permission.

              Installed seating (89.5%)
              Master Pools Builder Gib-San Pools

              You can never have enough places to sit when entertaining outdoors.

              Incorporating retaining walls, ledges, benches, and steps in your backyard design adds both style and function.

                  Photo courtesy of Master Pools Builder: Gib-San Pools, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

                  Weatherized Outdoor Furniture (83.6%)
                  Palm Springs Rattan Kokomo Sectional

                  The latest outdoor furniture designs bring the comfort of your indoor living room to your backyard patio.

                  Durable materials, including wood, wicker, aluminum, wrought-iron, and plastic, ensure your outdoor furniture lasts for years.

                  Weatherproof fabrics add color and comfort.

                      Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Rattan & Garden Classics.
                      Photography by Chris Baber.

                      Space for Cooking & Entertaining
                      Weber Black Grill Station

                      Just like your indoor kitchen, having ample counter space (74.2%) and utility storage (61.3%) makes entertaining so much easier.

                      Stow cooking gear in cabinets and add a few bar stools around a counter top so that you can prep food and spend time with your guests.

                          2011 Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
                          Used with Permission.

                          Outdoor Entertainment
                          SunBrite Weatherproof Outdoor TV

                          With an outdoor stereo system (58.3%), wireless internet connection (46.35), and weatherproof TV (45.4%), no one will be thinking of going back indoors.

                              Photo courtesy of SunBriteTV.

                              Kitchen Conveniences
                              Photo courtesy of Cimarron Circle Construction Co.; Outdoor Kitchen Designed by Prideux Design; Photography by Balfour Walker

                              Having everything, including the kitchen sink (54.7%), eliminates the hassle of running in and out of the house.

                              Plus, an outdoor refrigerator (50.2%) not only keeps drinks cold but ensures proper handling of food.

                                  Aquatech, a National Society of Pool-Building & Retailing Professionals;
                                   Photo courtesy of Cimarron Circle Construction Co.; Designed by Prideux Design; Photography by Balfour Walker.

                                  Outdoor Heaters (44.4%)

                                  Outdoor Pergola Foegley Landscape, Inc.

                                  Outdoor heaters keep your patio or deck warm and toasty long after the summer has ended.

                                  Table top heaters take up minimal space and can be moved from one area to another. Freestanding units provide heat to large areas.