Last year, millions of us headed outdoors to garden so we could get out of the house, de-stress and focus on something uplifting (hello, green grass and blue skies). In fact, nature does makes us feel better, and one of the silver linings of this very, very long pandemic has been a collective renewed love for nature and the outdoors.
“Most people who were new to gardening last year are growing things again this year on an even larger scale,” says Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder of Staghorn NYC and The Cultivation by Kat. “It’s because gardening brings joy. You can engage with a garden and get something back. You’re caring for the garden, but it also cares for you.” A garden also evolves over time, so you can indulge your own creativity and create a space that’s uniquely you. So, if you’re looking to spruce up your outdoor space, look no further.
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Here are the top 10 garden trends for 2021:
You want to sit in your backyard and enjoy the fruits of your labor, but sometimes the sun is just a little too harsh. Cue pergolas, the number one gardening trend for 2021. According to home e-commerce service Atlas Ceramics, pergolas are the most sought-after garden feature on Instagram with just under 900,000 posts highlighting these structures. They come in all shapes and sizes—some are wooden and even come with swings, while others are metal with canopies—so you’re spoiled for choice. These puppies don’t come cheap, so there’s no judgment if you bombard your Instagram stories with pics of your new purchase, should you buy one.
Those who prefer a tidy, organized aesthetic should consider incorporating this number two garden trend into their gardens. Not only do raised garden beds allow you to sort out your plants by kind, but they also allow you to plant all sorts of crops at the same time. You can easily separate, say, your roses from your tomatoes but have everything growing in one location. Raised garden beds are also popular with those with limited mobility because you don’t have to bend all the way down to get to your crops.
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It’s no surprise that as more people got into birdwatching over the past year, so did interest in adding ways to attract them to your yard. Birdbaths received 2,507,000 searches over the last year, according to Atlas Ceramics’s research. They’re an easy addition to any space, as they’re available in a variety of sizes and styles, from simple structures with a modern edge to classic plinths with intricate decoration and even subtle raised pools that seek to blend in with environment.
Showing that you cannot mess with a classic, Atlas Ceramics reports that garden gnomes had a whopping 17,300,000 hashtag views on TikTok, and honestly, we’re not surprised. Not only are they whimsical, but garden gnomes are the easiest way to add some personality to your garden. Not sure you’re into the look year-round? Try out these horror movie gnomes as part of your Halloween décor.
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Much like the Victory Gardens our great grandparents grew during World War II, many people started growing their own food last year. “This year, many people are going beyond a few pots of herbs or a single tomato plant on the deck and committing to entire vegetable gardens,” says Cervoni. Easy-to-grow veggies, such as peas and beans, are container-friendly if you’re tight on space, and tons of fast-sprouting veggies, such as lettuce and radishes, are kid-friendly, so the whole family can get gardening together.
Cervoni says many people also are branching out from growing “typical” edibles, such as tomatoes and peppers, to try fun plants, like watermelons and berry shrubs.
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After substantial time at home, most people have figured out what works and what doesn’t on their patios, decks and balconies. “One of the biggest requests I receive is to create shade, shade and more shade,” says Cervoni. “People want to make their spaces usable for classrooms or work-from-home offices.” Secondly, homeowners want spaces to be functional and fun. Fire pits are huge now, as are hot tubs. “I’ve had more requests than ever for saunas and hot tubs and even Scandinavian plunge baths. It makes sense because people want their backyards to feel more spa-like,” says Cervoni.
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This year, many nurseries and growers are reporting that their consumer demand is up 200 percent. That means it’s sometimes challenging to find plants because, after all, they take time to mature— you can’t just “make more” overnight. “There’s definitely a shortage in some markets,” says Cervoni. But buying online has made it easier to track down what you want. Local nurseries are great (yay for small businesses!), but if you’re coming up short on a specific plant, online shopping is the way to go.
“People are learning there are multiple layers to a garden,” says Cervoni. “It’s not just about what you see, but also about the other senses. So, there’s interest in cutting and fragrant gardens.” In fact, scent often connects us to a happy memory, such as being a kid in Grandma’s rose garden; it’s natural we’d seek that kind of comfort during unsettling times.
For cutting gardens, Cervoni recommends old standards, such as irises and peonies. “They’re fleeting but beautiful,” says Cervoni. “And most of us are still spending plenty of time at home to enjoy them.” Lilacs are another favorite, and they’re available now in reblooming and dwarf varieties that grow well in pots.
Another trend is to create a pollinator or bird-friendly garden to attract butterflies, bees and birds. Planting annuals, perennials and trees that attract pollinators not only beautifies your garden, it supports the threatened pollinator habitat. Plant annuals such as cuphea, lantana, torenia and fuchsia; perennials such as agastache, salvia and columbine; and shrubs and trees such as serviceberry, weigela and flowering quince. Add a birdbath or fountain, too, to make your garden a pollinator oasis.
There’s an emphasis on more “wild” gardens or gardens that evoke the countryside, rather than formal, manicured settings. Think wildflowers that spill over fences, a trellis with climbing roses, and borders with tall perennials to create a sort of ethereal, romantic feel. “One of the hottest flowers now is Queen Anne’s Lace, which has been considered a roadside weed for so long,” says Cervoni. Other cottage flowers to include for a more relaxed aesthetic include bishop’s flower, delphinium, verbena bonariensis and phlox. Herbs, such as dill and sage, also are amazing when left to flower. (Bonus: butterflies and hummingbirds love them, too.)
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