Horti-futurism is the emerging sci-fi-inspired garden trend that's like nothing we've seen before

5 ways to make the unique and interesting aesthetic work for your outdoor space

outdoor living wall as part of fence, full of colour and plants, lawn
(Image credit: Future PLC/Clare Lloyd Davies)

Horti-futurism is being tipped to be the next big trend in our outdoor spaces. This fresh garden trend is nothing like we've seen before and is all about embracing futuristic and sustainable practices, whether you have a sprawling garden or are limited to a small patio or balcony.

‘Horti-futurism is the latest emerging trend,’ exclaims Josh Novell, Director of Polhill. ‘And it’s fairly unique and unlike most that have come before it.’ But what exactly does it entail?

Here’s everything you need to know about horti-futurism and how to embrace the latest gardening trend in your outdoor space.

What is horti-futurism?

‘The latest trend of horti-futurism is all about channelling the ‘otherworldly’ and injecting some sci-fi inspiration into outdoor spaces,’ remarks Holly Daulby, Managing Director of Honest Communications. It follows the rise in popularity of science fiction in recent years, from Avatar to Stranger Things, by translating their aesthetics into our everyday lives.

Blending traditional horticulture with a futuristic aesthetic, it involves embracing bold colours, innovative plant choices and modern design elements to create a space that looks and feels like it’s just stepped out of a sci-fi movie or TV show.

‘It also aims to merge traditional gardening practices with modern advancements, such as artificial intelligence, automation, and sustainable gardening techniques,’ outlines Raby Castle’s Head Gardener, Tim Marshall.

Outdoor table with brick legs

(Image credit: Future / Heather Young)

And ‘in a world that's becoming increasingly tech-savvy and eco-conscious, horti-futurism ticks all the right boxes,’ Holly admits. Creating a garden ‘that’s not just beautiful but also forward-thinking, sustainable practices such as reducing chemical use and minimal water wastage,’ are also key, explains Lucie Bradley, Greenhouse and Gardening Expert at Two Wests & Elliott.

But how do you go about trying out the horti-futurism trend in your own garden or outdoor space?

5 ways to add horti-futurism to your own garden

1. Get colourful

Gravel garden and terracotta wall

(Image credit: Future / Rebecca Knight)

‘Incorporating bright colours into your garden is key to achieving a horti-futurism look,’ Josh maintains. ‘Think neon hues, metallic tones, and silver or iridescent foliage.’

Or ‘give your summer-bedding a touch of va-va-voom with brightly-coloured and variegated coleus plants,’ says Mark Lane, garden designer and presenter. Mark also recommends white as a colour to play around with, when adding the horti-futurism aesthetic to your outdoor space. You can ‘introduce white - and silver - coloured flowering plants, such as Stachys byzantina or Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis.’

2. Incorporate technology

outdoor living wall as part of fence, full of colour and plants, lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘While gardening is normally about nature, this trend allows you to experiment with technology as well,’ Josh asserts. ‘Implement features such as LED lighting, automated watering systems, or vertical gardens with hydroponics for a tech-savvy feel.’

The added benefit of incorporating technology into your garden or outdoor space is that it can make caring for your plants a whole lot easier. For example, you could ‘integrate sensors and smart devices to monitor and manage plant health, incorporate smart irrigation systems to efficiently manage water usage or simply embrace the use of mobile apps or online communities for plant care tips and guidance,’ Tim suggests.

‘Remember, horti-futurism is all about combining nature and technology in a sustainable and forward-thinking manner, so let your creativity guide you while keeping these principles in mind,’ Tim continues.

3. Utilise reflective surfaces and neon

Value Lights Regular Rechargeable Colour Changing Toka Outdoor Ball Light

(Image credit: Value Lights)

Think about ways that you can add different dimensions to your garden design, such as ‘introducing water in the guise of reflecting pools, ponds or mirror basins, so that you can look down and still see the moon and the stars,’ Mark proffers. This ‘will blur reality with reflection.’

Neon is also set to be big this year, when it comes to our gardens, and there are a few ways to add a pop of neon without it looking too out of place. You can go literal by adding neon garden lighting ideas or you can introduce neon with neon planters, furniture or neon-hued plants.

4. Go geometric

garden with blue painted wall and fireplace bench seating with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC / Claire Lloyd-Davies)

To get that modern, futuristic look, it’s important to focus on geometric designs in your garden furniture ideas and landscaping ideas, say the experts. So, ‘opt for geometric shapes in your hardscaping, furniture, and plant layouts if you want to go down the horti-futurism path,’ Josh suggests. This is because ‘clean lines and symmetrical patterns give a modern, futuristic effect.’

‘Consider a geometric layout with defined spaces and pathways,’ Lucie concurs. And ‘don't forget to create zones for relaxation and entertainment with modern outdoor furniture.’

5. Use sustainable materials and methods

The rain and chain barrel water feature at RHS Chelsea Flower SHow

(Image credit: Heather Young/Future Publishing Ltd)

Not only can certain technology choices enhance functionality and make gardening more sustainable, but using eco-friendly materials such as recycled or repurposed items really allows you to lean into the horti-futurism look. While natural elements and materials like glass can also be used to create a nice contrast in textures.

Ideally, you’ll also want to ‘combine the futuristic design with eco-friendly practices like rainwater harvesting or composting,’ to fully adopt the trend, Josh adds.

Which plants work best for horti-futurism?

The experts agree on a number of different plants that can instantly add a touch of horti-futurism to your garden. ‘Orange, fuchsia and red play a big role, alongside dark pinks and purple,’ Mark outlines.

‘Crocosmia masonorum,’ is a great choice, according to Josh. ‘Picture fiery orange blooms emerging from architectural foliage, resembling alien flora in your borders or pots.’ It’s all about seeking out plants with unique shapes, textures, or growth habits to welcome in the unusual and make your garden stand out.

Stone shelving on garden wall with pots of succulents

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

There are even plants ‘that look like they’ve come straight from a TV set or have names associated with films,’ Mark affirms. There’s ‘‘Darth Vader’ coleus, ‘Asteroid’ daylily, ‘Lunar Eclipse’ hosta, the hardy bromeliad Fascicularia bicolor, the dark veined leaves of Ipomoea batatas ‘Solar Tower Black’ and the fiery ‘blaze’ of Chasmanthe ‘Saturnus’.’ While 'air plants, bromeliads, and spiky succulents can add an otherworldly touch,' Josh adds.

And if you’re looking for ways to bring horti-futurism indoors, you can do this with succulents and ‘closed terrariums that create self-sustaining ecosystems,’ says Holly.

Ellis Cochrane

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.

Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.