Vegetable Gardens, Front Yard Hangouts: Top Landscaping Trends of 2021

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the majority of Americans to spend more time at home than ever before, many of these people are venturing outside. Backyards and front gardens have become places of safer contact with others, zen getaways, and sources of fresh fruits and vegetables. People even escape annoying Zoom calls from their partners by stepping out the door.

Unsurprisingly, the top landscaping trends of 2021 are expected to be inspired by a pandemic in the wake of the ongoing health crisis. These trends include converting outdoor spaces into year-round convenience, the emergence of more vegetable gardens, and converting backyards into activity zones for the whole family, according to a recent report from Tilly. The online design company creates landscape plans for clients across the country.

“Our world has changed dramatically and many people are spending a lot more time in their homes, gardens and yards,” said Tilly, CEO Blythe Yost. “Outside areas that weren’t at the top of people’s improvement lists are suddenly in the foreground.”

Indeed, the trend of nature as an extension to indoor living has been popular in recent years. But many united Americans jumped on the train for the first time in 2020. And that trend is expected to continue into the next year when the vaccines are introduced.

“There has always been a perception that nature is not safe. There are beetles, there is Lyme disease, there are thorns on the roses, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, “says the landscape architect Janice Parker, whose company of the same name has offices in New York and Greenwich, CT. “Socially distant collecting really drove people outside. … It opened people’s lives and spirits to nature.”

Outdoor oases become a must-see all year round

People don’t want to go in just because the temperatures are dropping. Heat lamps and outdoor fireplaces allow homeowners to turn their spaces into retreats all year round, especially in colder parts of the country. Sofas and lounge chairs make these areas more desirable.

“Outdoor heating, from fire pits to infrared heaters installed in pergolas and three-season porches, has become a must.” Craig Jenkins-Sutton, President of Chicago-based landscape architect Topiarius. “Retractable vinyl screens are also in great demand to retain heat and keep the wind out.”

There will likely also be an increased emphasis on privacy in backyards. This could be a row of evergreen plants or even a lattice wall with hanging tendrils to block the view.

Vegetable gardens will continue to be trendy

Growing your own groceries made a big comeback last year, when worldly trips to the supermarket suddenly turned into fear-inducing experiences. Is this person wearing a mask? Is it at least 3 meters away from you at the cash register?

Victory Gardens became an affordable and even fun way for group people to pass the time and grow their own fruits and vegetables. And when done right, they produced quite a bit of bounty!

This trend is expected to continue into the next year, with more thoughtful gardens, more raised beds, and an increase in potted herbs.

“It’s fun and you can get results,” says Parker. “Seeing it grow and eat it is the ultimate process and the ultimate connection. It’s incredibly satisfying.”

Backyards become playgrounds

Enterprising homeowners are expected to continue turning their backyards into playgrounds for steroids. There will likely be an increase in homemade zip lines, rock climbing walls, ninja warrior courses, and fancy jungle gyms.

“You don’t have to travel, you don’t have to see anyone to take your kids outside,” says Tillys Yost. She’s seen a lot of people go the DIY way with kids’ inflatable pools, rope swings, and other inexpensive improvements: “You don’t need a whole, big jungle gym or playground.”

Pools, almost the hottest commodity of 2020, could continue to be in high demand.

“Children need a pool,” says landscape architect Parker. “Adults go to a pool when we feel like we look good in a bathing suit. Kids will just be around all the time.”

Front gardens are becoming more social

Front gardens are likely to remain social spaces. In cities, stooping was the place where neighbors could catch up while remaining socially distant. In the suburbs, driveways were places where neighbors could exchange community messages, whether through an organized gathering or when they were walking the dog.

“We designed more seating in the front yard,” says Yost. She likes to make room for a pair of Adirondack chairs in front of the door. “You can get a little bit of social interaction when the neighbors walk by.”

Eclectic and native designs will be a top priority

Next year’s outdoor spaces may not be flawless – we all have a lot on our plate. However, homeowners will try to make them beautiful without putting too much work into them.

“We find that a lot of people are looking for low-maintenance designs,” says Yost. “We don’t want people to feel like it’s too perfect or too clipped or too finished. Not every plant you plant is going to be a winner.”

Native plants that are designed to thrive in their environment and thus require less labor remain popular. This also applies to pollinator-friendly flowers that attract bees and birds.

Landscaping is becoming more visual

People are also more concerned about the view of their garden from their homes. They are expected to look for “framed” landscapes that look good from certain windows. That means people are likely to plant a mixture of flowers, shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation in these areas so that there is always something green or blooming.

“The first thing I do when I take on a project is look outside through the master bedroom window, the main bathroom window,” says Parker. “That has always been important. You have to be able to pay attention to something that you enjoy.”

Vertical gardens will be the focus

Vertical gardens remain eye-catching, especially for small spaces. These vertical structures covered in vegetation can be placed indoors or outdoors, where they become a kind of artistic statement wall.

“Not everyone has a large vertical space,” says Yost. “Just hanging a plant or a basket by a window can bring green and life to a vertical space. English ivy could be growing on a wall. If you’re in a more tropical climate, we do a lot more sedum walls.”

Working outdoors will be the new hobby

When the pandemic first forced people to stay home, some people watched Netflix or rode their peloton bikes into obscurity (or both). Others developed hobbies such as defining the Great American Novel, baking sourdough bread, and gardening. Suddenly, weeding the vegetable garden or raking the leaves served as a mental health break, which also enabled much-needed exercise.

Homeowners are expected to take care of their gardens more than ever before the start of the New Year.

“It’s really nice to see all of these people invest so much in their gardens and spaces,” says Yost. “It’s a very easy way to get involved with your surroundings and step outside your front door.”

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