This year's trends in outdoor living follow the overall trends in consumer spending: Consumers are increasingly conscientious about the quality of their purchases; value and values are at least as important as price in making buying decisions. The other major trend is convenience; consumers are busy, they want their purchases to make life easier, not harder.
The following trends in outdoor living fit well under the umbrella of value and convenience.
Low-maintenance/high impact gardens
Consumers want gardens that make bold statements but are easy to care for. Large, showy plants and masses of plants are popular. Succulents are both low maintenance and showy (if you choose the right varieties). Groupings of cannas, with their bold colours, also fit the bill. Self-watering containers, automatic watering systems, and heavy mulching reduce daily maintenance.
Today's outdoor living enthusiasts recognize the important role of lighting in garden spaces. Outdoor lighting serves to accent special plants and sculptures, light paths, provide ambient lighting, and create atmosphere. Concern over the environment and limited resources lead consumers to alternatives to electric lighting, such as solar lights, windup of solar lanterns, and candles.
Alternatives to Chemicals
Garden expert Graham Porter reported on the popularity of alternatives to garden chemicals: "With pesticides fast disappearing from our garden center shelves, the trend is to encourage organic and non-chemical growing." (Huddersfield Daily Examiner)
Environmental consciousness is evident in consumers' decisions to limit their use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In seeking alternatives to chemical plant food, consumers are choosing natural fertilizers such as fish emulsion. They are using cultural methods such as heavy mulching to control weeds. By choosing disease-resistant plants and plants that grow well in their locations, consumers are able to reduce their use of pesticides.
Following the general trend, gardeners are increasingly relying on smartphone garden apps to guide their decisions. When looking at plants in a nursery, today's gardener will pull up an app for information about the plant—how big it will get, pest problems, cultural requirements, etc. Apps are especially valuable for showing pictures of the plants, so buyers can tell what they will look like in the future. Apps also help consumers design their outdoor spaces, letting them try various options for placement of plants, furniture, and other features.
Outdoor cooking remains a major activity for garden spaces. The public continue to want fireplaces and barbecue grills. Fire pits and chimineas are gaining popularity as consumers become more aware of their potential for cooking and for creating ambiance in the garden.
Following consumer demand and evidence of changing climatic conditions, plant breeders are developing varieties that can thrive in severe weather. Next Generation roses, for example, are extremely tolerant of high heat and humidity. Certain new plant varieties are able to thrive in very dry conditions, while others grow well in wet locations.
Image Credit: Image 2