Just like decorating styles, landscaping trends come and go. Some of this year’s top trends are born out of our evolutionary desire to interact with nature and preserve our world. Some have emerged from forced confinement in our homes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Others have more of an aesthetic origin. Either way, they’re fun to incorporate into the growing season to add interest, convenience, and practicality.
Last year’s gardening experimentation led to brighter colors, increased comfort and convenience, and the realization that we’re not the only ones who use the earth.
1. Edible gardening
Whether you call it vegetable garden, victory garden, farm-to-table gardening or something else, the age-old trend of growing your own food is more important than ever. There are so many benefits. In addition to getting the freshest fruits and vegetables, you can control growth by going organic (or at least avoiding pesticides and herbicides) or selecting local compost over chemical fertilizers.
You can get the whole family involved and teach your kids valuable sustainability skills. Reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding trips to the supermarket. The latest twists on growing food: Plant in raised beds for better drainage and easier access; convert your lawn into garden space and reduce water-hungry lawn monoculture.
2. Wildlife Waterhole
Homeowners have suspended bird feeders for decades, but with shrinking wildlife habitat and climate change, many humans are doing more to support wildlife. It is important to provide the right type of food, delivered in the right type of feeder.
This year’s buzzwords such as rewilding, nature scaping and curated wilding suggest a desire for a ‘loose’ garden design that feels natural and invites wildlife. Add aquatic elements, which should be important this year, which allow wildlife to drink safely. Plant sheltering shrubs and fruit trees to protect them from predators. Add native plants to feed wildlife and attract pollinators.
Related: 12 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor for Your Backyard Wildlife
3. Climate Change
Because climate change is a fact of life, many gardeners are modifying their landscape designs. It is especially important in hot, dry, fire-prone areas to incorporate xeriscaping and use native, drought-tolerant plants. Reduce the number of sap-filled plants that could fuel a fire, or at least keep them away from your home.
Stone or gravel walkways work both as a firebreak and as a way to reduce rainfall runoff. In floodplains, create swales to shed water and add rain gardens to mitigate stormwater. Plant slopes and hillsides to control erosion. In all areas, reduce your use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Recycling and upcycling are part of today’s environmental consciousness. For example, shredding materials to use for trails serves multiple purposes: recycling diverts items from landfills and reduces your carbon footprint. In addition, the creation of permeable paths avoids the use of concrete, which leads to rain runoff.
Using second-hand outdoor furniture or imagining new uses for decorative accessories adds character and interest. Pallets can become screens to hide AC units. Old windows can become cold frames. Plastic water bottles can become cloches to protect seedlings from wind and cold. The list continues.
Related: 10 tips for creating a woodland garden at home
5. Go Native
Native plants attract local pollinators and support regional wildlife. They are an important part of any xeriscaping plan, helping to reduce water consumption. Native plants should not need fertilizers or pesticides, which is an ecological benefit. They will also reduce erosion. An added benefit is that native plants should thrive in your landscape, while other plants can struggle without the right temperature, light, soil, and rainfall.
6. Tropical Twist
While native plants confer environmental benefits, adding a few tropical plants to the landscape can evoke psychological benefits. Covid-19 travel restrictions have kept most people home for 2 years, but many of us yearn for the exotic places vacations are known for.
Some plants, such as hardy hibiscus, hostas, ferns, yuccas and some bamboos look tropical but are cold hardy. Summer bulbs such as canna lilies, caladiums, Colocasia and elephant ears provide a tropical look. You can always take your houseplants outside for the summer, or pick up favorites like bird of paradise, palms, and bougainvillea at the local nursery for your “stay-cation.”
7. Jewel tones and rich colors
Whether you choose tropical plants, bulbs, annuals or perennials, this is the year to choose bright, vibrant colors in bold jewel tones to add positive energy to your landscape. Red, orange, magenta, lime and dark purple should be prominent this year and can be found in crocosmia, salvia, allium, freesias and cannas.
Mix acid yellow with deep blue-violet to attract eyes and pollinators. You can also add color to accent the lighter flowers by planting dark foliage, from plants such as coral bells, smoke bush, purple basil, Lorapetulaum and others. Foliage plants add drama and provide a nice contrast to structures and green leaves or flowering plants.
Dahlias topped Instagram rankings last year in the UK, a trend that continues on both sides of the pond in 2022. There are over 100 varieties, which come in many sizes, shapes and just about all colors, which can rely on jewel tone and vibrant color trend. And these tubers are easy to care for and are hardy growers. They look just as good in containers as they do in borders. Resembling chrysanthemums and zinnias, dahlias bloom for a long time and make superb cut flowers.
9. Upside Down
Since most of the world has spent much of the last 2 years at home, homeowners have started to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors by building outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and pergolas that can be closed with curtains to create a private room. Some elaborate outdoor lounges even include televisions, refrigerators, and outdoor sofas. Large, strategically planted shrubs add privacy, while string lights add ambiance. Wanting the comforts of home just steps away from home is an enduring trend as people use their backyards more.
Related: Grow This, Not That: 12 Native Alternatives To Invasive Plants
10. Health and Happiness
Outdoor spaces help promote hygge, a Danish word meaning contentment and warmth, in other words, well-being, happiness and health. It’s a buzzword that has gained momentum during the pandemic and it’s still a strong idea.
In landscape, hygge means adding elements that invite intimate gatherings of friends and family, like a fire pit, and including calming aspects, like a water feature. Space for gathering and eating should be part of the landscape design, as should soft lighting and lush plantings, including fragrant plants, and comfortable places to relax.
11. Spatial Intelligence
Not everyone has a big yard, but that doesn’t have to limit landscaping choices. Small spaces can have a big impact. Gardening goes vertical with living walls and even on the roof. Balcony gardens are back in a big way, thanks to planters and stackable plantings. Using smaller scale outdoor furniture or pieces incorporating storage amplifies the room. Multipurpose spaces make good use of small lots.
12. Don’t forget the dog
Pet adoptions were out of the ordinary during the pandemic, with nearly one in five U.S. households adding a new pet to the family, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Most of us want to keep them with us forever. This means making room for them outside.
Because dogs can create dead spots in the lawn, some owners add an area with artificial grass just for Fido. Others are adding dog runs, and many are fencing their backyards to keep their pets safe because they want their pets to be with them while they enjoy their outdoor spaces. Be careful when adding plants, as some can be toxic to your canine family members.