When it's cold and miserable, your garden might become a casualty of that 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality we're all so good at adopting – but it won't be long until spring takes hold and everything begins blooming again, which is why it's important to suss out 2024's big garden trends now.
Whether you have a balcony, a teeny backyard, a pristine patio, or an envy-inducing outdoor oasis, you'll likely have a list of must-try garden ideas as long as your arm by this point.
Which, though, are worth pursuing this year? Well, according to experts at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), it's going to take a lot of creativity and hard work to keep our gardens looking their very best over the next few months.
Garden trends 2024
'As we head towards 2024, the unpredictable effects of climate change have taken centre stage and garden resilience is the watchword for the year ahead,' says an RHS spokesperson.
With that in mind, then, we've rounded up the big garden trends that will be shaping the way we use our outdoor spaces this year.
If you're desperately trying to dream up some gorgeous new garden border ideas and planting schemes, experts at the RHS have urged to try something like cow parsley, the unexpected 'it' flower of the year.
'The use of wildflower seeds is moving away from a designated wildflower patch/meadow and into the borders,' they explain, offering up the likes of alexanders, meadowsweet and welsh poppies as examples.
'Even plants traditionally seen as ‘unwanted weeds’ such as herb robert and plantain are becoming popular. And cow parsley is now a desirable border plant and dandelions are recognised as being key to providing food for bees early in springtime.'
2. Moon gardens
The moon garden – or lunar garden, if you prefer – is set to become a major mood for 2024, not least of all because it manages to address topics of sustainability, climate crisis, biodiversity and our growing fascination with wildlife gardens in one fell swoop.
Indeed, as award-winning garden designer Queenie Chan explains, it's all about creating a beautiful space for pollinators and nocturnal wildlife to enjoy – as well as a spot for quiet reflection and contemplation.
Having previously worked as a fashion designer; during the pandemic Queenie Chan decided to shift her career focus onto garden design and embarked on the study of horticulture. She qualified the RHS Level 2 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture and has been awarded a Gold Medal + Best Greener Border from the RHS Tatton Park Show in 2022 and a Silver Medal from the RHS Hampton Show in 2023.
Queenie is currently living in South East London and working on design projects with residential and commercial clients.
The focus should be on planting white, fragrant flowers (which provide an excellent source of food for moths and bats alike), as well as plants with silver foliage.
'Many plants with silver foliage are drought-tolerant, making them useful in areas of low rainfall or borders with very well-drained soil,' explains Queenie.
3. Climate change fruits
If you're on the hunt for the best fruit and vegetables to grow this year, you're not alone: the GYO trend and our fascination with edimentals is going nowhere fast, especially with the cost of living crisis showing no signs of abating.
Rather than stick to, say, the easiest vegetables to grow, though, the RHS says we may well benefit from broadening our horizons this year.
'Recent hot dry summers are ideal for certain fruits, grape vines being an outstanding example – but others include figs, almonds, apricots, melons, peaches/nectarines and watermelons,' says a spokesperson.
They add, however, that climate change is highly unpredictable and can also be damaging – 'including to existing fruits that need winter chilling such as blackcurrants, apples and pears'.
Following this trend, then, should be done cautiously.
4. Purple power
'Indigo appears to be the colour of choice for exterior paint as searches for ‘indigo house’ were up by 72%,' says a spokesperson from Toolstation. 'And violet fence paint is up by 46%, too.'
Explaining why purple shades should no longer be counted among the fence colours to avoid, Zara O’Hare, design consultant at Land of Rugs, says: 'In recent years, I have started seeing more and more people move away from classic, neutral paint colours and opt for bolder, brighter colours, especially since the release of the Barbie movie.'
'Using bolder, brighter colours adds more personality and flair which people are now craving,' she adds.
The RHS has also said that 'gardeners and chefs can anticipate purple carrots, cauliflowers, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, radish, French beans and lettuces' will be taking over our cook's gardens, too.
5. Peach hues
One of our favourite garden trends for 2024, it seems as if Pantone's colour of the year, Peach Fuzz, is going to steer our flower choices in a very big way.
'Following the announcement of 2023’s Pantone Colour of the Year, Viva Magenta, Gardeners Dream saw a general increase in red, maroon and purple plants and flowers,' recalls Craig Wilson, co-founder, director and in-house gardening expert at Gardeners Dream.
'This year we expect to see a similar uplift in peach and apricot tones, as people look to incorporate 2024’s Pantone colour, Peach Fuzz, into the gardens.'
Craig Wilson, co-founder and director of Gardener's Dream Ltd has established himself as a key figure in the online gardening industry. With over two decades of plant knowledge and gardening experience, he takes pride in sharing his top tips and tricks for the garden.
If you want to add a little Peach Fuzz to your garden, Craig suggests you 'look to flowers such as Geum Mai Tai, Peach Weigela, Peach hued roses'.
'If you want to make a real statement, Pink Rosea Cortaderia Selloana Pampas Grass will do just the job,' he adds.
6. Cold water plunge pools
Forget the energy-guzzling hot tub: this year's garden trends suggest the new luxury must-have for our gardens is a cold water plunge pool.
'Thanks to Wim Hof and his cold water training for good health, plunge pools and cold water baths are popping up in gardens now in many forms,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.
Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.
'From small portable ice tubs just about big enough for one person to dip in to reclaimed baths filled with cold water, there's many ways to enjoy the health benefits of cold water therapy – even on a balcony!' he adds.
It's also worth noting that Tom Bannister’s The Ecotherapy Garden, which will appear at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is also set to promote the benefits of immersing oneself in nature whilst also embracing the current cold plunge therapy trend with a plunge pool enveloped in lush planting as the centrepiece of the garden.
7. Rain harvesting
Indeed, looking ahead to this year's 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it seems water conservation will be shaping some of the most anticipated show gardens, including Sam Proctor's The Water Saving Garden sponsored by Affinity Water.
'It will be showcasing methods to capture, store and re-use water in an affordable and easy to introduce way that reduces maintenance and fuss,' says a spokesperson for the event.
8. Coastal plants
If you're still keen to learn how to create a Nordic coastal garden, you're in luck: coastal plants are pipped to be one of the biggest garden trends of 2024.
'Storm resilient plants take centre stage in the mgr Changing Tides Garden which celebrates the specialist plants that have adapted to the harsh conditions found along the strandline of the UK's shingle beaches,' says a spokesperson for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
'Designer Lucy Mitchell wants to shine a light on the coastal plants that can withstand and thrive in some of the most extreme weather conditions providing inspiration for people across the UK looking for tough, tolerant plants that will withstand the sort of stormy weather that has hit the UK in recent weeks.'
9. Container gardens
If there's one thing we learned from Zoe Claymore's award-winning garden at last year's Hampton Court Flower Show, it's this: a small garden doesn't mean you have to sacrifice any of your planting dreams.
In fact, the National Gardening Association has found a 200% increase in container gardening in a single year and predicts that trend will continue, with more and more of us 'growing successfully in pots, growing up instead of out and using innovative ways of colonising indoor space'.
Clare Matterson, Director General of the RHS, says: 'I’m excited to see a growing interest in gardening in urban areas. My first ever garden was at a small flat in Brixton, London. Through this tiny space I was able to get my hands in the soil, connect with the seasons, and enjoy growing both flowers and vegetables. At the RHS we want to open up gardening for everyone, anywhere.'
Continuing trends from 2023
What we choose to plant in our gardens continues to demand extra thought and consideration as temperatures rise and rainfall dries up.
'Driven by houseplants and sourcing drought-resistant bedding, interest in succulents is growing with commercial landscapers introducing the hardier ones into landscapes,' says a spokesperson for the RHS, noting that Aeonium, Cotyledon, and Crassula are the succulents to watch.
Of course, garden designer Matthew Childs previously steered us toward hard-working plants such as long-flowering salvias, that are also great for encouraging pollinating insects and wildlife.
'Our priority is using a palette of tough plants that will be reliable and resilient,' he said.
Matthew is an award-winning garden designer and has designed a diverse range of exciting landscapes both in the UK and internationally. He believes in the power of gardens to have huge benefits for mental and physical wellbeing, but also as having an important role to play in tackling climate change and providing habitat for wildlife.
'Important factors in plant choice will be drought tolerance, successful planting communities and all-year-round colour and interest that makes us smile, but is also great for pollinating insects and wildlife too,' added Matthew.
'We are excited about the range and diversity of long-season flowering salvias for example. Annuals and species bulbs are becoming more important to ensure there is always a pop of colour, whatever the weather.'
2. Planet-friendly gardening
It seems gardeners will be increasingly in tune with nature this year, enquiries to the RHS about wildlife gardening increased by over 28% in 2023.
'Whether to let the grass grow long and allow wildflowers to have their moment in the sun is a far more popular question than getting great lawn stripes!' says a spokesperson.
'The shift reflects an interest in supporting birds, pollinating insects, invertebrates and the wildlife that depend on them, by growing plants that offer food and shelter all year round. Joined by making bug hotels, sourcing pollinator-friendly plants, leaving dead timber and introducing water features, even small ones, to benefit wildlife.'
'It may not sound very exciting but I’m going to be paying much more attention to how I dress the surface of planting areas to help keep moisture in the soil and competing weeds out so that our planting schemes are more resilient to the changing climate,' said Matthew previously.
3. Vertical gardening
If you’re keen on picking up easy garden ideas in 2024, you’ll be delighted to know that vertical gardening – the traditional technique of espaliering plants so they grow upwards and across walls – will be every bit as much of a garden trend this year as it was last.
Tomoko Kawauchi, design director at garden design company Charlotte Rowe says it’s becoming obvious that the go-to vertical gardening choice, a green wall, is difficult to maintain and requires a lot of water.
'Instead, we’re preferring to place climbers in planters with adequate soil depth and width, creating a vertical garden in a much more sustainable way,' she explains.
'I have also become very interested in deploying traditional espalier techniques to create geometrical pattens on walls using climber plants and exploring ways of highlighting the vertical elevations of my gardens and giving them a presence, rather than just being a backdrop for a feature plant.'
4. Sustainable hard landscaping
If you’re looking to improve your front garden ideas and give your kerb appeal some fresh kudos, take note: our penchant for sustainable hard landscaping hasn't gone anywhere.
Tommaso del Buono predicts that hard-landscaping will become both more practical – with larger pavers helping to cut down on both material and labour costs – and visually intriguing.
'We’re seeing pattern is also on the rise including geometry with unorthodox twists,' he says. 'Using off-kilter symmetry and experimenting with proportions and perspective is exciting me at the moment.'
Tommaso adds that he’s also seeing increased popularity in darker natural stones. In 2023 he will be using much richer, heavier hues for paving and other hard landscaping to add depth to his designs and create a dramatic foil for greenery.
4. Ever more exotic houseplants
Houseplants are set to reach the next level in 2024 – the RHS predicting that hanging houseplants will one of the year's biggest garden trends.
'Houseplanteers want to fill every corner of their homes, with tropical-looking plants and orchids bringing a ‘jungle vibe’ to their spaces – and growing up instead of out,' says a spokesperson.
'Favourites will include Epipremnum, Sedum morganianum, and old favourites such as string of hearts and spider plants.'
Even more intriguing? As we turn down the central heating to save energy (and the household budget), cooler indoor temperatures will prove a perfect home for delicate exotic plants such as cymbidium and dendrobium orchids.
'The heat and dry air of centrally heated homes isn't good for most plants, so more unusual exotics will perform better in a cooler home.'
One of our favourite modern garden ideas from last year, it seems woodland-inspired gardens will continue to reign supreme in 2024.
Indeed, Anto Clay, a regional director with Stacks Property Search, says rural home-buyers are now highly likely to ask for a new home with attached woodland.
'Property with attached woodland is attracting a premium,' Anto explains. 'Everybody used to want a pony paddock, now mature trees are the new must-have. In these days of stratospheric fuel prices, firewood keeps you warm three times – once when you cut it, once when you split and stack it, and finally when you burn it. And of course, it’s good for the soul.'
Landscape architect Marian Boswall MSGD, also predicts we will see more of the best trees for small gardens and city locations - 'where they can help clean the air and reduce the urban heat island effect'.
She recommends the drought-tolerant crab apple tree as a perfect addition to any garden. 'Its blossom feeds insects in the spring, and in the depths of winter, when the ground is covered in snow and there is little to eat, its tiny apples provide nourishment for birds.'
6. Tapestry lawns
'Gardeners will be saving time by giving up parts of their lawn to pollinators and other garden wildlife, letting borders grow long or looking into lawns that require less water and maintenance,' says a RHS spokesperson.
'This includes tapestry lawns made up of low-lying, intertwining flowering plants such as yarrow and selfheal, and mini wildflower meadows with native plants like yellow rattle and cornflower. Plants previously thought of as weeds, including dandelions, are also embraced for their ability to blend into their green surroundings.'
Seed companies are focusing on drought-tolerant varieties for lawns, including tall fescue grass and micro-clovers, which mean these lawns stay green without watering even in very dry areas.
What is the plant trend in 2024?
Drought-tolerant plants are going to be big for 2024, as will native wildflowers and GYO produce. Craig also predicts that flowering shrubs like azalea will see an increase in popularity, as 'searches for ‘beautiful flowers’ are on an upward trajectory on Pinterest'.
'Azaleas are the most searched flowering shrub by customers on the site currently, and particular varieties have seen some huge sale increases,' he says.
'Purple Azaleas have seen a 400% increase in sales compared to the same time last year, whilst Orange Azaleas are up 100%.'
Succulents and houseplants will, too, continue to prove popular, especially among urban gardeners.
What is the easiest emerging trend to add to your garden right now?
Pip Probert, garden designer, founder of Outer Spaces, and TV gardener featured on BBC2’s Your Garden Made Perfect says the easiest garden trend to add right now is the screen: 'We’re finding screens are very popular at the moment and although they have been around for a while now, the options seem to be expanding.
'From composite, wood or metal options available you can really change the feel of your outdoor space by using a decorative screen. With both bold and delicate patterns available, you can add artistic flair to the space, make it feel unique and give it a ‘designer’ look, simply and fairly cheaply. The patterns can create beautiful shadows and the colours available can truly jazz things up in any outdoor living space, whatever the size.'
What garden trend will last beyond 2024?
Definitely garden rooms, says Pip Probert. 'People want to spend time at home for many reasons and having another place to sit, work or simply relax offers multiple options for the homeowner. Many people work from garden rooms, including myself; surrounded by nature and truly inspired by my surroundings.
'Garden rooms are something that are definitely here to stay – making the most of the space we have and the land we own.'
Which of this year's big garden trends is your favourite? Personally, we fancy trying our hand at the purple vegetables twist on the beloved GYO movement...