Over the past year, people have found such solace in their gardens that one of the biggest trends in gardening has become gardening itself. As a result, fascinating new trends are blooming in the outdoor space. From architectural plant shapes sure to enchant green thumbs to extending your home into your garden, here are six inspiring gardening themes.
Container gardening is more fashionable than ever because anyone with any sized space can do it, says Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth, whose outdoor service provides pre-vetted, trusted gardeners to help with all outdoor activities, from gardening to patio cleaning. Be creative in the container you choose: almost anything can work as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom. Plus you can experiment with container combinations, such as flowers with vegetables or a small tree with groundcover that will trail over the edges of the container.
Unusual house plants
Indoor house plants have been a trend for a while, but the coming months will see us ramping up our indoor plant collections with sculptural and exotic-style pot plants. Apart from their green aesthetic and ability to make a space instantly feel more liveable, indoor plants are also known for their therapeutic effects, with studies showing that they lower stress levels. Some house plants also have fantastic air-cleansing benefits, purifying the air we breathe of harmful toxins.
The appeal of architectural and unusual-shaped indoor plants will also be translated outside, with plants that make a bold statement tipped to rise in popularity this summer, says Alen. Hanging plants will also make more of a splash indoors and out, with the usual flower displays replaced by quirky arrangements of foliage in varying colours and textures.
Clever lawn design
Reduced lawn areas are gaining in popularity, especially in areas with water restrictions. Gravel, paving, tiles, decking and pathways are all options, but some caution is advised here. While grass-free, no-mow areas may have low-maintenance appeal, the general landscaping rule dictates that the hard landscaping of a garden shouldn’t be more than one-third of the overall garden area.
Paved and artificial surfaces reduce the possibility of water infiltrating the soil and recharging groundwater, warns Dr Kevin Winter of UCTʼs Future Water Institute and Water Task Team. Instead, grow green in water-sensitive ways, and reduce the areas that need planting with clever garden design, such as large flagstones laid in random patterns, with gravel and step-on ground cover planted in between.
Create flow from the inside to your outdoor space
Recent years saw a decor trend of bringing the outdoors in, with a more natural feeling created in the home through the use of houseplants and botanically inspired decor.
Dress your garden as you would your living room for a harmonious link between the two spaces, with sofas, cushions and furniture in similar colours and patterns, says Alen. “Style your outdoor areas with weather-proof furniture that looks like the real thing but is made from durable synthetic material, and add all-weather cushions and rugs. And as a decorative feature, group together outdoor sculptures and hurricane lanterns.”
Not a new trend but one growing in popularity, people are increasingly looking to make their gardens more environmentally friendly, says Alen. Say no to toxic chemicals and use organic, ecologically-sound methods to deal with pests and weeds, and learn how to make compost from your green waste.
With water shortages becoming more of a reality, water conservation is paramount. Include drought-tolerant plants in your garden, and indigenous plants that are already suited to the rainfall, soil, and climate in your area, advises Alen. Harvest rainwater whenever you can and even if you don’t have tanks, use any receptacle, like old dustbins, to catch water when it rains.
“Mulching is also increasingly important, as it helps regulate soil temperature, retain moisture and prevent erosion,” he says. “Opt for use organic, biodegradable materials like bark chips, leaves, grass clippings, and pine needles, which will not only stay cooler in sunny weather, but will also eventually break down and become part of the soil.”
Gardening as therapy
Avid gardeners have long known that gardening can help you find a sense of calm, with studies showing its benefits include reducing anxiety and depression, lowering cortisol levels and improving focus and attention. With the world feeling so unsettled right now, new gardeners are discovering the therapeutic power of gardening, and the joy that is derived from nurturing plants. Seasoned gardeners are also putting their green-thumbed skills to use, and having fun experimenting with new products and techniques.
Having a lovely garden not only makes your home look good, it greatly adds to your life enjoyment. Gardening connects you to the beauty of nature and, gratifyingly, is living proof of all the love, care and effort you put into it. In the words of poet Alfred Austin: “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”