Like decorating styles, landscaping trends come and go. Some of this year’s top trends sprang from our evolving desire to interact with nature and preserve our world. Some evolved out of enforced confinement to 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 experimentation with gardening has led to bolder color, increased comfort and convenience, and the realization that we’re not the only ones using the land.
1. Edible Gardening
Whether you call it a kitchen garden, a victory garden, farm-to-table gardening, or something else, the age-old trend of growing your own food is bigger than ever. There are so many benefits. In addition to getting the freshest of fruits and veggies, you can control the growing—going full-on organic (or at least eschewing pesticides and herbicides) or selecting local compost rather than chemical fertilizers.
You can involve the entire family and teach your children valuable skills in sustainability. Cut your carbon footprint by saving trips to the supermarket. The latest twists on growing food: plant in raised beds for better drainage and easier access; convert your lawn to garden space and reduce the water-hungry grass lawn monoculture.
2. Wildlife Waterhole
Homeowners have hung up bird feeders for decades, but with shrinking wildlife habitat and climate change, many humans are doing more to support wildlife. It’s important to provide the right type of food, delivered in the right kind of feeder.
This year’s buzz words, such as rewilding, nature scaping, and curated wilding suggest the desire for a “loose” garden design that looks natural and invites wildlife. Add water features—which are predicted to be big this year—that allow wildlife to safely drink. Plant sheltering shrubs and fruiting trees to afford them safety from predators. Add native plants to nourish wildlife and entice pollinators.
Related: 12 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor—to Your Backyard Wildlife
3. Climate Changes
Because climate change is a fact of life, many gardeners are making changes to their landscaping designs. It’s particularly important in hot, dry, fire-prone regions to incorporate xeriscaping and use native and drought-tolerant plants. Reduce the number of sap-filled plants that could fuel fire, or at least move them far away from your home.
Stone or gravel pathways work both as a firebreak and a way to reduce rain runoff. In flood plains, create swales to carry water away and add rain gardens for stormwater mitigation. Plant slopes and hillsides for erosion control. In all areas, reduce your use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
4. Cycles of Life
Recycling and upcycling are part of today’s eco-consciousness. For example, crushing material to use for pathways serves multiple purposes: recycling diverts items from landfills and reduces your carbon footprint. Plus, creating permeable paths avoids the use of concrete, which leads to rain runoff.
Using pre-owned outdoor furniture or devising 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 goes on.
Related: 10 Tips for Creating a Woodland Garden at Home
5. Going Native
Native plants attract local pollinators and support regional wildlife. They’re an important element in any xeriscaping plan, which helps to reduce water usage. Native plants shouldn’t need fertilizer or pesticides, which is an ecological advantage. They’ll also reduce erosion. An added bonus is that native plants should flourish in your landscape, whereas other plants can struggle without the right temperature, light, soil, and rainfall.
6. Tropical Twist
While native plants impart environmental benefits, adding a few tropical plants to the landscape can evoke psychological benefits. Covid-19 travel restrictions kept most people at home for 2 years, but many of us long for the exotic locations for which vacations are known.
Some plants, such as hardy hibiscus, hostas, ferns, yuccas, and certain bamboos look tropical but are cold hardy. Summer bulbs such as canna lilies, caladiums, Colocasia, and elephant ears impart a tropical look. You can always take your houseplants outside for the summer, or pick up some favorites like bird of paradise, palms, and bougainvillea at the local nursery for your “stay-cation.”
7. Jewel Tones and Rich Colors
Whether you’re picking out tropical plants, bulbs, annuals, or perennials, this is the year to choose bold, vibrant colors in daring jewel tones to add positive energy to your landscape. Red, orange, magenta, lime, and deep purple are expected to be big this year—and can be found in crocosmia, salvia, allium, freesias, and cannas.
Mix acid yellow with deep blue-purple to attract eyes and pollinators. You can also add color to accent lighter flowers by planting dark foliage, from plants such as coral bells, smoke bush, purple basil, Lorapetulaum, and others. Foliage plants add the drama and provide a pleasing contrast against structures and green leaves or flowering plants.
Dahlias topped the Instagram chart last year in the U.K., a trend that is continuing on both sides of the pond in 2022. There are more than 100 varieties, which come in many sizes, shapes, and just about every color—which can build on the jewel tone and vibrant color trend. And these tubers are easy to care for and are robust growers. They look equally good in containers and borders. Resembling mums and zinnias, dahlias bloom for a long time and make great cut flowers.
9. Inside Out
Since most of the world has spent much of the past 2 years at home, homeowners have begun to blur the lines between inside and outside by building outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, and pergolas that can be curtained off to create a private room. Some elaborate outdoor living rooms even include televisions, refrigerators, and outdoor sofas. Tall shrubs strategically planted add privacy, while strings of light add ambiance. Wanting the comforts of home just steps away from home is a lasting trend as people use their yards more.
Related: Grow This, Not That: 12 Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants
10. Health and Happiness
Outdoor rooms help promote hygge, a Danish word that means contentment and warmth—in other words, well-being, happiness, and health. It’s a buzzword that gained steam during the pandemic and is an idea still going strong.
In the landscape, the hygge concept means adding features that invite intimate gatherings of friends and family, such as a fire pit, and including soothing aspects, such as a water feature. Space to gather and eat should be part of the landscape design, as should soft lighting and lush plantings—including fragrant plants—and cozy spots to relax.
11. Spatial Smarts
Not everyone has a large yard, but that doesn’t have to limit landscaping choices. Small spaces can make a big impact. Gardening is going vertical with living walls—and even up on the roof. Balcony gardens are back in a big way, thanks to window boxes and stackable planting. Using smaller-scale outdoor furniture or pieces that incorporate storage amplify the room. Multipurpose spaces make good use of small lots.
12. Don’t Forget the Dog
Pet adoptions were off the charts during the pandemic, with nearly one in five American households adding a new pet to the family, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Most of us want to keep them with us forever. That means making space for them outside.
Because dogs can create dead spots in the lawn, some homeowners are adding an area with artificial turf just for Fido. Others are adding dog runs, and many are fencing in their backyards to keep their pets safe because they want their animals with them while they’re enjoying their outdoor spaces. Just be careful when adding plants, since some can be toxic to your canine family members.