We’ve had our first taste of sunshine already this year, filling us with hope of a great summer ahead. Pair that with the anticipation of restrictions being lifted, allowing garden gatherings in the near future and there’s the promise of plenty of time spent outdoors for the months ahead. Be prepared to enjoy that time in style as we ask the experts, across all fields of garden expertise, to give their predictions on the hot new garden trends for 2021.
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Make the most of your garden this year – whether you want to grow your own veg , dine alfresco or enjoy the many health and wellness benefits of the great outdoors.
‘A place where friends and families can be together, dine alfresco, host weekend barbecues and spend evenings round the firepit, our gardens are a space for fun, relaxation and enjoyment,’ says Lynsey Abbott, Outdoor Living Buyer at Dobbies. ‘Our vision for Spring Summer 2021 is all about getting the most from our outdoor spaces’.
So without further ado, here we reveal the latest trends in the world of gardening, from The Society of Garden Designers, Dobbies, Wyevale Garden Centres and leading retailers.
Garden trends 2021
1. Escape to the country
Blame lockdown, but the trend for moving to the country has never been greater. While the dream is to move out of the city, into the green parishes beyond there’s a lot to be said for creating the country feel in an urban setting. And homeowners are adopting an ‘improve before you move’ mentality. Fill gardens and balconies with rustic potted plants and accessories to create the sense of country living.
Being in the garden can feel like escaping to the country, helping us to slow down, reduce stress levels and connect with the natural world on our very doorstep. Your garden can be a full sensory experience, from the sound of running water, the smell of flowers to the taste of homegrown produce.
2. The garden as the fifth room
Blurring the lines between inside and out is a huge growing trend for 2021. Whether that’s creating a kitchen garden, a wellness space or acting as an extension to a playroom – we’re looking to extend our lives to our outdoor spaces.
Gardens are fast becoming a space where we are spending more and more of our time with family and friends. ‘Often more than not it needs to flex to meet several purposes – an oasis for quiet contemplation, a play area for children and an entertaining space for social get togethers. Whether it’s a set of French windows, the door to your balcony, or simply an outdoor patio, your home probably has an ideal place to style as a fifth room.’
3. Grow your own
This remains at the forefront of the modern garden. Veganism is one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements with the number of Brits choosing a plant-based diet rising by more than 360 percent over the past decade. Coupled with rising food prices, shortages and a growing appreciation of organic produce, it’s no surprise the grow your own movement will continue to surge in 2021.
Dobbies’ resident garden expert Marcus Eyles puts the growing trend down to, ‘more and more of us looking to include additional vegetables in our diet and the number of people on exclusively plant-based diets increasing.’
He goes on to say, ‘Easy to grow vegetables, salads and herbs suitable for growing in small spaces such as wall planters and patio containers will rise.’
Christopher Ray, Head of Outdoor at B&Q advises, ‘It’s important to find the right area in your garden to cultivate delicious, edible goods. You don’t need masses of space but do look for a level area with a good amount of sunlight exposure to build your bed. Mix and match different sizes of stackable raised beds to create a personalised growing area that suits your space. Finally, select your seeds and then you’re good to grow!’
If you’re serious about becoming more self-sufficient, a greenhouse can increase your yield of beautifully fresh fruit and veg all year round.
If space isn’t on your side, legumes (runner beans, broad beans, French beans and peas), squashes and pumpkins are a great option as they make use of vertical space. Salad leaves, herbs and tomatoes grow well in boxes on balconies and patios and cost a fraction of the supermarket price too.
More advice: 5 top tips to help boost your gardening skills
4. Embracing bold colour
When it comes to use of colour in our gardens, the brighter the better for 2021 – create a vision of joy with your planting and furnishings. Use gardens as a celebration of colour, with sunshine shades of apricot orange and tropical greenery to create a garden getaway.
Embrace bold colour says Christopher Ray, Head of Outdoor at B&Q. Saying, ‘your garden should reflect your personal taste, just as much as any other part of your home does. This summer is set to see the return of bold blooms full of riotous colour! Pick shades that complement one another and group complementary colours together: reds, yellows and oranges, whites and blues, and purples and pinks.’
Christopher suggests, ‘To ensure you keep the vibrancy without creating chaos, consider keeping the colour to set areas. For extra impact all year round, use outdoor paint to give exterior walls a pop of colour.’
5. Fun for all
‘It’s a case of ‘your garden, your rules’!’ says Christopher Ray at B&Q. ‘This year’s outdoor season will see outdoor family fun ramping up as grown ups get creative with exciting new ways to engage their little ones with the great outdoors.’ From mud gardens to sandpits it’s about creating an outdoor space for fun for little ones.
Children’s gardening ranges offer everything you need to introduce kids to the world of ‘grow-your-own’. Making it simple to tend to your beloved fruit, veg and herbs whether you’re a young novice or an experienced green-fingered gardener.
6. Urban gardening
Urban Gardening will continue to be a key trend in 2021. Showcasing that everyone, no matter how small their outdoor space, can experience the satisfaction and enjoyment of growing their own food.
From Microgreens on windowsills to home grown potatoes in sacks and dwarf apple trees in patio containers, we show how all age groups can benefit from growing vegetables, fruit and herbs in containers of all shapes and sizes. All without the need to plant in the ground.
7. Climate change gardening
Gardening for a changing climate is set to continue to be a key trend going forward. Designer Sue Townsend MSGD says she is creating more ecological gardens to cope with the extreme weather conditions experienced in the UK in recent years. Her advice is to plant the right plants for the conditions of each garden. And store water and to allow excess water to be collected then dissipated through the soil.
Joe Perkins MSGD agrees, saying he frequently designs planting schemes that are drought-resistant. Joe has noticed his clients are less inclined to pamper plants with state-of-the- art irrigation systems, largely due to the feeling it’s more environmentally responsible to use plants which can largely fend for themselves.
8. Interior decor outdoors
Making an outdoor space an extension of the indoors is a huge trend. As we see sofas, rugs and cushions dressing our patios in the same way they would our living rooms. Garden expert Joe Perkins MSGD is seeing this trend emerging particularly amongst younger generations. These budding garden enthusiasts are looking to style their outside space as they would their interiors. As a result of this new trend he predicts a stark rise in bright coloured accessories and furniture outdoors.
With less of us moving home as often as we once did, we are looking for ways to adapt our homes to meet our changing needs. ‘Taking the ‘don’t move, improve’ approach’ explains Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director at Dobbies Garden Centres. ‘Gardens are being thought of more as an extension of our indoor space, the fifth room some may say.’
9. Crazy paving and stone walls
The craze for crazy paving is once again fashionable! Along with gabion walling, both are expected to continue to dominate – as they did last year.
‘I never thought I would say this, but crazy paving and stepping stones using large irregular slabs are making a come-back,’ says Sue Townsend MSGD. Sue also foresees the continued popularity of porcelain paving. It looks like authentic real stone but due to its low moisture absorption has a non-slip quality which is highly practical. This material is particularly useful in shady areas.
With the popularity of split level gardens the trend for slate-style walling is growing. Creating the illusion of separate slate pieces laid together these smart single blocks give the appearance of slate profile walling, with the ease of laying single blocks.
10. Garden zoning
Make more of any garden space available by creating dedicated zones, suitable for each outdoor activity. Christopher Ray, Category Manager for Outdoor at B&Q shares his tips on how best to zone the modern garden.
Create a storage zone ‘It’s important to have the right tools and accessories to cultivate and tend to your garden, and a safe place to store them at the end of the day. Try discreet and secure storage solutions such as garden boxes, that come in a range of materials so that they can easily blend into your space. Look for currently unused spaces, such as alongside your garden shed, and turn it into a storage area to keep the mess at bay!’
Provide an outdoor playroom ‘If you’ve got children, building a zone for some outside fun will serve hours of entertainment throughout the Summer. Providing an area that the kids can call their own, gives children a space they can learn to keep tidy after a day of outdoor fun. Playful favourites such as slides, swings and sandpits are all family friendly.’
Find your zen with a chill out space ‘Nature has a way of relaxing us, so carve out a space in your garden for quality ‘me time’ where you can unwind. To keep chill-out vibes to a maximum, stick to comfy outdoor furniture such as big padded chairs and hammocks.’
Zone your own ‘Having a patch to grow your own can be extremely satisfying.
Garden party ‘In the Spring and Summer months, there’s nothing better than an outdoor soiree, so having a dedicated outdoor entertaining area is a must. Position this within easy access of the barbecue or kitchen – you’ll spend less time heading in and out of the house and more time enjoying the Summer sun.’
11. Health and wellbeing
From air purifying plants to plant protein, Wyevale has seen a sharp rise for all things wellness related. For 2021 this will largely extended to our outdoor living spaces. This growing trend is spurred by the desire to garden for both physical and mental health benefits.
Indoor plants are coming back into fashion in a big way and not purely for aesthetic reasons. As well as purifying the air we breathe of harmful toxins according to NASA, indoor plants can also reduce stress, control humidity and lower sound pollution.
To promote better sleep, place snake plants in your bedroom which give out bursts of oxygen at night to support better breathing. Aloe Vera works well in kitchens to neutralise benzene found in detergents and plastics.
Not seen since the Seventies, indoor hanging planters are making a comeback as a quirky way of displaying houseplants. (We have them in our office, too). Group different colours, shapes and textures together for maximum impact.
12. Wildlife-friendly gardens
Wyevale Garden Centres’ senior buying team, combined with survey data from more than 27,000 British gardeners, have identified this as a growing trend. ‘From environmentally conscious shoppers, to wildlife and the weather, today’s gardeners are much more aware of the changes that can be made towards a more sustainable future,’ explains Mark Sage, Head of Horticulture from Wyevale.
‘Nearly 70 per cent of British gardeners buy food for wildlife in their garden. Over 60 per cent make a conscious effort to grow plants that benefit wildlife.
2021 is set to see an increased demand for plants that attract bees and butterflies to our gardens. Such as Buddleja Berries and Cream, packed full of cone-shaped clusters of flowers, these are a real magnet for bees and butterflies.
13. Wild and perennial meadow gardens
There’s a surge to take gardens back to a more natural state. This is a continuing trend, after lots of garden designers experimented with wildflower and perennial meadows last year. The good news is you don’t need a large plot to incorporate one into your garden.
As a result Louise Harrison-Holland MSGD tells us she expects planting to have a looser, less clipped feel. She says, ‘This wilder style has been helped along by the increasing use of instant wildflower meadows. I see designers trying to recreate this look with a mix of herbaceous perennials and grasses that have a more permanent structure, helped by the increasing use of shrubs in planting borders.’
Louise also predicts designers will be working with a greater number of varieties creating a much looser style of planting, in place of mass block planting of a small number of plant types.
14. Outdoor entertaining
Despite the unpredictable British weather, the nation is embracing the Mediterranean lifestyle, with sales of garden furniture, barbecues and accessories expected to grow substantially in 2021. And given this spring we can only gather outdoors, it’s never been more important.
Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas will be a key trend for modern gardens. Perfect for those of us who lack space in our kitchens or dining rooms, as we can move entertaining friends and family outside. Create a dedicated area with comfy furniture and mood lighting, complete with a sunken fire pit, BBQ or pizza oven.
Vicky Angell, Outdoor Living Buyer at John Lewis & Partners tells us, ‘Outdoor cushions grew last summer, with sales up 70 per cent.’ That number is expected to be even higher this summer, with the outdoor entertaining trend growing.
‘Entertaining at home in the garden has heavily influenced product sales over the last few years. Reflected in the sales of BBQs and cooking tools. The stand-out product of previous years was the Ooni pizza oven, up 115 per cent last year.’
15. Multisensory spaces
The planting schemes continue to be focused on innovative displays of colour, fragrance, light and texture to create a fully immersive space.
‘Beautiful beds and blossoms form the backdrop to your outdoor space and every gardener needs a place to show them off,’ explains Christopher Ray, Category Manager for Outdoor at B&Q. ‘Plants and flowers add depth and texture to your garden. Select a mix of flowering plants such as busy lizzies and pollinators, like lavender, as they can also benefit the wildlife in your garden.’
‘Lavender, a beautifully fragrant pollinator, attracts bees and butterflies, breathing life into your garden. Make sure your growing space has a plentiful supply of sunlight – south facing areas are always a good sun spot for blooming buds. If your garden is shaded, perennials such as hydrangeas, can add subtle colour to darker spaces.’
16. Front of house
This year it’s as much about the front garden, as it is the back. With doorstep gatherings being the only option at times. In a bid to stand out on the street and boost property value, house-proud Brits are making the front of the property more of a priority. More than merely a ‘welcome mat’ to our homes, it’s a great space to show a touch of personality.
17. House plants and hanging plants
Sculptural and architectural plants are tipped to dominate gardens this year. ‘The continuing rise in popularity of houseplants is being translated outside. With exotic-style plants with architectural leaves and stems making bold statements, inside and out,’ explains Joe Perkins MSGD.
He also predicts that we’ll be seeing more hanging plants in our gardens. ‘Not traditional hanging baskets, but plants with foliage, colour and texture. Which can be used as accessories as an addition to pots and planters.’
Which of these garden trends will you be incorporating into your outdoor space?
The Society of Garden Designers has been championing excellence in garden design for over 35 years. It’s the only professional association for garden designers in the UK, counting some of the UK’s leading garden and landscape designers among its growing members.