12 Cool Garden Trends

Say goodbye to formal plantings, structured lines and taming nature. Life in the garden is getting wild.

By Steve Lowe

Say goodbye to formal plantings, structured lines and taming nature. Life in the garden is getting wild.

The trend now is creating country-styled gardens as an oasis from city living, with the emphasis towards embracing the environment, self-sufficiency and creating beautiful and nurturing spaces to recharge, relax and connect with family and friends.

Here are the key elements:

1.Plants go low maintenance

Plants that can adapt to changed climates are all the rage. Think succulents, grasses and low maintenance natives. Landscape designers are recommending a mixture of native and tropical plants with a focus on featuring species that cope with extreme heat and prolonged drought.

2.Bee loose!

Ambitious new designs embrace the wild and loose. These free-flowing gardens encourage wildlife, attracting native birdlife and bees. In regional areas and the edges of the cities, back-to-nature designs might lure other wildlife, such as kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and lizards.

If you love gardening, designers are recommending you integrate vegetable-growing into the beauty of your garden rather than sectioning off a veggie patch. Striking ornamentals that are edible include Toscano kale, broccoli, coleus and the blueberry shrub. Consider planting lettuce with violas to create a wonderful bed of green and purple. All these plants will attract natural pollinators.

3.Smart, sustainable and low maintenance

Unless you’re a mad-keen gardener, backyard maintenance can be a pain. This year, it’s all about garden smarts. Consider removing messy plants such as shrubs and trees that constantly litter pools and paths with dropped foliage.

Collecting and storing your own water is now considered an essential. Coupled with an irrigation system with a timer, soils stay moist and keep your garden alive without being a burden on resources.

4.Go with the flow

Some of the most stunning designs create a flow from the kitchen and into the outdoor entertaining area. Big, retractable glass doors that open onto the garden are the height of fashion. Kitchen gardens are being created in vertical planters that take the edges off the visual impact of walls and fences and are great for growing herbs.

5.Create a sanctuary

Emphasis is being placed on creating interesting and even secluded structures to offer great entertainment spaces, or provide you with a private and quiet sanctuary. In the US, this hot trend is called a stay-cation garden.

If you’re seeking respite from the world, private areas are being created with arbours and water features that are surrounded by lush plants rather than built walls. Consider using tall, narrow plants such as bamboo as a privacy screen. Spots with firepits will ensure you can enjoy your garden in cooler months and crazy paving links spaces and lures people to explore different parts of the garden.

6.Recycle materials

Recycled materials are the choice of designers for new sheds and pool houses as they minimise your environmental foot print and offer a more natural, weathered appearance that blends into the rest of the landscape.

Other structures coming into fashion include walls made of rubble stone that soften the lines of the garden. Walls of timber log have the opposite effect but their popularity is on the rise. They make a striking feature or boundary wall.

7.High tech and high quality

Designers are building fabulous seating and eating areas with shade trees and a fistful of tech gizmos. These include weatherproof Bluetooth speakers and innovative lighting using solar-powered halogens.

You’ll also need to invest in quality outdoor furniture to complement these features. Buy quality pieces that will not rust or rot and whose designs will pass the test of time. You won’t find this level of quality in the big-box outlets.

Adding a little kitsch can be fun, too. Consider installing glow rocks. They’re pure California in their over-the-top nature but can be incredibly effective if used sparingly around your entertainment area.

Top Garden Trends Checklist:

•Back to nature – Climate change gardens feature plants that can survive extreme temperatures and drought and attract wildlife and bees.
•Collect and store – Water is a prime concern. Collect and store water so using an irrigation system doesn’t seem reckless.
•Integrating veggies – Instead of creating a vegetable patch, plant vegetables among the other plants.
•Wild and Loose – Asymmetrical gardens are giving way to free designs designed to attract local wildlife and get you back to nature.
•Go Vertical – Vertical planters remain popular, taking the edges off the visual impact of buildings, and they’re great for growing herbs.
•Go with the Flow – Create a flow between the kitchen and outdoor entertaining areas. Make pots of lush greenery visible from the kitchen so they lure everyone outside.
•Privacy please – Carve out quiet spaces so you can get away from it all and entertain guests.
•Recycle – Build sheds, retaining walls and pool houses from recycled materials so they look like they’ve been in the garden forever.
•Quality over quantity – Choose quality outdoor furniture and fittings that will withstand the elements.