Garden & landscaping trends

Did you hear that? It’s the collective sigh of garden designers everywhere. Natives and drought tolerant plants, container plantings, and edible gardens are at last no longer a trend, but are here to stay. In their wakes is a mountain of new ideas ready to be reflected in the garden in myriad ways. Here is a collection of trending ideas.

Colouring structures

People will want more colour out of their structures which can be achieved by painting fences, arbors, and houses. Rather than white, brown or grey fences, we’ll see fences painted dark green or dark blue. This is a trend coming out of Europe. People are painting their houses a darker colour, like deep blues or navy blue as a foil for the garden. A house painted dark charcoal grey affects what a garden looks like.

Colouring structures in the garden create a vibrant background for setting off plants in the garden.

 Appreciating subtlety in gardens

Gardens don’t have to be over the top. There will be more appreciation for subtle colour ranges, or all white, or one colour gardens. Gardens will be appreciated in the details of a stone wall, or interesting edging, or delicate branching patterns in the landscape.

Designing with houseplants and growing veggies indoors

Whether it’s a terrarium, a living wall or an indoor planter, people are becoming more interested in treating a plant pot as a small-scale landscape. Instead of just having a single houseplant in a pot, they’re applying “thriller, spiller, filler” container gardening techniques and other design principles to indoor gardens. You can enjoy your design all winter indoors or even shift it to the patio for an instant garden in summer.

Vegetable gardening indoors is becoming more popular with compact and increasingly ornamental cultivars such as the tiny, heart-shaped cherry tomato called ‘Sweet Valentine’.

 

Natives don’t equal overgrown & messy landscapes

There is greater understanding that the use of natives in the landscape doesn’t equal an overgrown, messy “weed patch” for a front yard. A well thought out design using native species, shrubs and perennials for their form, foliage, flower and wildlife attract qualities that can be indistinguishable from a similar design using traditional ornamental plant selection.

Rethinking outdoor experiences

Everything you have inside, you can have outside. From grills, covered areas, areas with heat, lighting – extend the season with outdoor living spaces. The fire pit trend is getting more extensive, and the outdoor experience is shifting from simple dining areas to ‘chat groups’ with areas designed solely for relaxing and conversation. Think differently about outdoor furniture. It’s not just a dining table on the patio anymore. We’ve reached a tipping point in garden design where furniture and fabric and outdoor accessories are as plentiful and available as they are for interiors. There’s a huge movement toward individualizing outdoor spaces. You can be very specific with fabric and accessories. There’s no longer just one line of wicker furniture to choose from. These are conversation furniture areas, places to relax not just for dining. People traditionally think about dining outside but not the rest of outdoor relaxing. Now we’re seeing a shift in thinking about outdoor space.

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Manageable maintenance

Natural gardens or gardens with a relaxed style can be tricky to maintain and still meet aesthetic desires. People want beautiful and eco-sensitive outdoor spaces but they’re desperate for it to be manageable over the long haul. The following design principles will be key to manageable maintenance: thoughtful plant selection; choosing a planting scheme that matches how people want to live in their garden; and selecting a manageable plant palette, characterized by a fewer number of plants, each plant well-chosen and doing its ‘job’, i.e. easy-care blooms, multi-season appeal, etc. A naturalistic, relaxed, and looser planting style tempered with carefully selected plants, will achieve the natural, casual garden that you desire and still land at a comfortable spot on the maintenance continuum.

Sustainable features integrated with design

Generally, sustainable landscapes are designed around function, so inherently they are ‘highly functioning’, but they don’t always integrate or mesh with their surroundings. As we take a closer look at soils, plant materials and rain gardens, we’ll start to see a move toward landscapes that are sustainable but also very aesthetically pleasing. Instead of kidney bean-shaped rain gardens plunked in the front yard grass-scape, we’ll see highly functioning landscapes responding to the topography and architecture with appropriate plant choices that appeal and are relative to the scale of the garden.

Sustainable residential gardens with aesthetically-pleasing stormwater management solutions are on the radar in 2016. This soft scape rain garden with recycled concrete pavers has downspouts from an upper roof, and a rain chain down into bio-retention cells with the (contained) equisetum grass

Lighting schemes

The technology with LED lights has really changed. Though it’s a bigger up front cost, there are long term energy savings, and the quality is getting better and better. LEDs are warmer coloured and available in all kinds of systems. The controller for lighting schemes can be done on a smart phone controlling dimming, brightness, on/off controls. One popular trend is party lighting. It’s possible to use different schemes such as coloured lights for a holiday theme or favourite sports team colours to light up the landscape for a big game night. What’s really interesting is to set lighting schemes using softer tones to highlight different plant materials, such as deepening the colour of cedar with blue/green coloured lights.

New technologies offer cafe lighting with old style cafe string lights in both modern and informal designs integrated with the overall outdoor lighting scheme. Cafe lighting with old style cafe string lights is popular in both modern and informal designs integrated with the outdoor lighting.

We’re starting to see more gardening with a purpose. The younger generation especially is interested in making a homesteader’s garden rather than a purely ornamental garden. Interest will continue to grow in plants that attract pollinators, growing food, keeping chickens, beekeeping, vegetable beds, clothes-drying racks, and composting.