Last year saw a surge in gardening and outdoor living. Almost everything that we couldn’t do inside found a way to happen outside. Amidst the transition, many people started to experience the perks of living outdoors, from increased health to new discoveries in nature. With beautiful bird songs and blossoms still in memory, the movement is set to continue. Here are the trends you can expect in outdoor living in 2021!
Now that we’re spending so much time at home, people are embracing the patio and backyard as a multi-purpose space.
Serenity in the Garden
As the pandemic carries on, many people are still seeking a peaceful place to recharge and retreat from work while remaining at home. Tall grasses, privacy hedges, and berry bushes can create a space that feels secluded but not cramped. A water feature, even a small birdbath or fountain, goes a long way to help create a calming atmosphere. And a fragrance garden—with lavender, sage, yarrow, bee balm, mint, echinacea, or others—can also do wonders to relieve stress.
Multi-Purpose Outdoor Living Spaces
Now that we’re spending so much time at home, people are embracing the patio and backyard as a multi-purpose space. Along with eating and entertaining, people are also using the outdoors for exercising, Zoom calling, working, and just plain living. Expanding the patio, creating more covered spaces, planting shade trees, or rearranging your container garden can make your landscape more pleasing for multiple users and uses.
Year-Round Outdoor Living
Indoor gathering restrictions this winter drove many people to find heating solutions to their outdoor living spaces and explained the shortages of heaters. Many people sought inspiration from Scandinavia, where they’ve long known how to be comfortable outside in the winter, using fire pits, heat lamps, and thick blankets.
With several months of restrictions still on the horizon, the quest for outdoor comfort continues. In buggy times, that means having a fan or a drop-down bug screen to keep mosquitoes away. Umbrellas and shade sails come to the rescue during the summer months. Outdoor lighting is valuable year-round and continues to be a popular trend. Any low light that doesn’t attract insects is best.
Bringing Nature to Your Home
As people increasingly understand that a close connection to nature is critical for both our physical and mental health, and as the trends for ecological living continue to grow, everyone is looking for more ways to bring nature into their home. They are turning lawns into pocket prairies, growing butterfly gardens, planting native berry shrubs, and making habitats for insects and birds. Native plants hold the key to any ecological landscape, as they are both well-adapted to our ecoregion in northern Illinois and precisely what the wildlife, including insects, need for sustenance and habitat.
A Front Yard With Purpose
While many of us are seeking peace and serenity, we’re also missing people. Setting up a gathering location in the front yard lets us observe and interact with neighbors passing by and connects us more to the outside world. In a sense, it resurrects the age-old trend of the front porch—that shared space that is your own property yet blends with the social life of the street. Laying down a small gravel patio, creating a seating nook, adding a small water feature, or even bringing a seasonal container garden into the front yard can make it more inviting for outdoor living.
A Cutting Garden
As many people look for new ways to express themselves at home, the cutting garden is set to be a top trend in 2021. Allium, peony, gladioli, zinnia, and dahlias are good flowers that you can cut for bouquets inside. Herbs, native wildflowers, and even grasses make wonderful arrangements. A cutting garden doesn’t need to stand alone but can be integrated into your landscape’s outdoor living spaces.
Doing More With Less
People aren’t letting any space restriction prevent them from gardening. Confinement to a small yard is no longer an excuse. Any space, including a balcony, can come to life with plants. The main trends are in container gardens, vertical gardening, and multi-story gardens. Sometimes even adding a new color or a few new colors can electrify a small space. Spray painting an old chair cerulean blue, or lavender-pink suddenly makes a small yard more inviting and alive.
Color Trends of 2021
Pantone has announced two colors to set the trends in 2021: “Illuminating” yellow and “Ultimate Gray.” The yellow symbolizes the uplifting mood of overcoming the challenges of 2021. Yellow walls have long been a favorite of artists, notably Vincent Van Gogh, who painted his studio sunshine yellow during his formative years in southern France. In contrast, the gray evokes the bedrock strength and practicality that we’ll still need to draw on in 2021. Minimalist grays have been a popular trend in landscaping and interior design in the last few years.
Unless you’re a professional landscaper, it can be hard to determine what you want for your outdoor living spaces, if only for the simple reason—you don’t know what your options are. Knowing the trends can help. We don’t have to follow the trends blindly, but they can be a handy starting point to see what others are up to, and we can feed off the inspiration to find our own creative vision!
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Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.