Looking for some modern garden ideas? Now is the ideal time to liven up your garden for spring/summer.
Whether you're in need of a complete garden re-design or simply want to update the functionality and look of your garden, we've compiled the top trends with insight from gardening experts and designers on planting, materials, design styles and lifestyle influences, all of which will shape our gardens for 2019 and beyond.
Wild and perennial meadows
Wildflower and perennial meadows are a key trend, helping to create a much looser style of planting. ‘We will see a move towards more natural, less manicured gardens, which we create mixing strong architectural styles with an abundance of naturalistic planting,’ says Jon Sims MSGD.
Wyevale Garden Centres echoes this idea: ‘Gardeners are breaking the boundaries of traditional borders with a more relaxed approach, mixing bedding with perennials, shrubs, bulbs, grasses and vegetables, enforcing the “looks good and tastes good” trend.’
The Greenhouse People says the key is to think asymmetrically: ‘To perfect the trend, focus on a less structured style rather than geometric designs. By adopting this slightly offbeat aesthetic, you can give your garden a rustic and lived-in feel.’
For example, think about how you can position plants in a looser, less formal manner to make your garden look uniquely individual. Take inspiration from the quirky Japanese gardening aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which encourages us to embrace imperfections, asymmetry and incompleteness.
Meanwhile, Louise Harrison-Holland MSGD predicts hedging will become the number one choice for garden boundaries.
‘Adult treehouses and summerhouses are all the rage,’ begin The Greenhouse People. ‘Tech titans like Microsoft have long hailed the virtues of outdoor meeting spaces and 2019 is the perfect time for the rest of us to get onboard. Treehouses and summerhouses are a great way to let go and enjoy your leisure time no matter the weather. You can embrace the outdoor spirit by constructing your own hideaway or investing in a pre-assembled structure.’
Karen Rogers echoes a similar idea, saying the growing demand for teenage hang-outs in gardens will gain momentum. Karen designs these gardens with secluded garden buildings or separate seating areas featuring outdoor fire pits or fireplaces: ‘These spaces require clever screening from neighbours as well as good lighting and planting that absorbs as much noise as possible,’ she says.
Elsewhere, Joe Perkins MSGD expects the trend for fire pits, outdoor kitchens and other lifestyle accessories to continue.
With the quest for plastic-free living becoming a major focus, switch to biodegradable plant pots (using materials such as coconut husks, wood chips, rice husks, miscanthus or seaweed) for the new season. These can then be added straight to the compost when they’re no longer needed.
The garden is a great place to re-use household plastic products which you would otherwise chuck away. Plastic water bottles can make a statement hanging planter, just cut open one side, fill with compost and plant seedlings, then hang horizontally with heavy duty string, suggests The Greenhouse People.
Climate change gardening
Gardening for a changing climate is a key trend. 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, to 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 and has noticed that his clients are less inclined to pamper plants with state-of-the- art irrigation systems because they feel it is more environmentally responsible to use plants which can fend for themselves.
Bold and bright colours
According to Sue Townsend MSGD, opt for vibrant, hot colours combined with sultry purples and blues. 'Don’t be surprised to see a shift towards orange and even yellow which has taken a back seat in many gardens of late,' says Barbara Samitier MSGD.
For a garden that suggests luxury, Joe Perkins MSGD recommends combining red and purple alongside greys and blue-greys in plant foliage. He too is seeing a trend in younger garden enthusiasts looking to style their outdoor space as they would an indoor room, using bright coloured accessories or furniture. Joe cautions that simplicity and repetition are the key for success here.
Ingenious ways to grow your own
Growing your own fruit & veg is one of the biggest trends in recent years, something that’s only set to soar, but one barrier that many of us face is a lack of square meters. With small gardens becoming the new norm, it’s no surprise that ‘patio fruits’ are set to become the next big thing: think apples, apricots, blueberries and cherries. Place filled terracotta pots, metal buckets or wooden pallets in a sunny spot, water regularly and sit back.
According to Wyevale, sales of large fruit and veg varieties are up 59 per cent in the last two years, with giant strawberries, giant tomato ‘Gigantimo’ and giant chilli pepper ‘Big Jim’ the most popular sellers. The garden retailer also notes that hanging baskets are being transformed into miniature fruit and veg patches that both look good and taste good.
Sculptural and architectural plants will dominate outdoor spaces. Joe Perkins MSGD says ‘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’.
Joe predicts that we will 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.
Vertical planting shows no signs of waning, especially for those with limited space. Be it a fence, wall or metal cage, you can maximise growing space with a limited footprint. Vegetables that grow well vertically include cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, mangetout, squash and melons.
Support for wildlife
Louise Harrison-Holland MSGD says we can expect to see on-going support for wildlife in the wider landscape, especially around the survival of our native hedgehog, whose numbers have plummeted in the past years. ‘The move toward a slightly looser, wilder style of garden design will help support this initiative,’ she says.
In fact, the experts at Wyevale say the nation’s love of wildlife is continuing to infiltrate the gardening world: 'Nearly 70 per cent of British gardeners buy food for wildlife or provide a home for wildlife in their garden, and over 60 per cent make a conscious effort to grow plants that benefit wildlife.'
You heard it here first: Log walls are all the rage. Barbara Samitier confesses to being obsessed with log walls: ‘They can act as a feature wall, a boundary or a screen while providing a necessary habitat for insects and a wide range of wildlife,’ she says.
Gabion walls and crazy paving
Crazy paving, charred timbers and gabion walls are all expected to dominate. Sue Townsend MSGD says: ‘I never thought I would say this, but crazy paving and stepping stones using large irregular slabs – the bigger the better – are making a comeback.’ Sue also foresees the continued popularity of porcelain paving.
As for gabion walls, Louise Harrison-Holland MSGD predicts that stone work will be used in a less structured way, and when used vertically will be more like a ‘rubble’ stone, but softened with planting.
Spotlight on front gardens
The nation is putting its gardening skills front of show with a focus on front doors and front gardens, says Wyevale. Over 40 per cent of Brits now feature hanging baskets in their front garden, and city-dwellers in the capital are on average three times more likely to feature window boxes at the front of their home compared to residents in other areas of the country.
Wyevale says: ‘Sales are soaring for plants that can be bought in pairs. Twin bay trees remain a favourite for adding structural impact, and new container-friendly bamboo varieties such as the red-stemmed Fargesia "Red Dragon" are coming this year. Increased volumes of evergreen box and topiary – in all shapes and sizes – are also being introduced to meet with growing demand.'