Good Seasons: Trending in landscape designs for now and the future

Keeping up with garden trends this year is a win for us and the environment, as well with landscape architects leading the way. According to a feature by Damian Holmes in the January issue of “World Landscape Architect,” the trend is toward putting the environment front and center.

That said, it is climate change that is leading the charge in how professional landscape designers are approaching their projects. “We have recently seen more project work is dedicated to mitigating climate change in the USA,” the article states. The article goes on to say: “The mitigation initiatives will cover a broad spectrum, from changing land management practices to small initiatives, such as, regulations governing the colour (sic) and reflectivity of surfaces.”

Applying this idea at home could include a range of approaches — from avoiding “blacktop” asphalt driveways that absorb and reflect heat, to roof surface colors, to considering water-conserving devices or installations in the garden, such as rain gardens, swales or a “green roof” for garden or other structures to conserve water and mitigate heat reflection.

Another aspect the pros will be looking at is greater emphasis on the value of outdoor space.

For commercial spaces this means: “People will place greater value on outdoor spaces as places to exercise, relax, meet, dine and recreate,” the article states. “Industries (especially arts & entertainment) will start to see smaller outdoor events are ways to get people to attend comfortably, this will place greater strain on parks and open spaces in cities. Will indoor stadiums and large entertainment venues continue to draw the crowds? Or will the expectation be that more events will need to be held outdoors with smaller crowds?”

Of course we are already seeing this happen as Covid issues continue to constrict indoor activities. With predictions of the possibility of continued public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes obvious that commercial spaces will begin to conform to the needs of the public in order to keep people safe and healthy. Our own experiences are mirroring this trend.

How many of us have planned outdoor events in the past year or two, to still enjoy the company of our friends and relatives while keeping them and ourselves as safe as possible? No doubt many of us are considering, or already have, looked at ways to extend our outdoor living areas as weather allows. The popularity of garden fire pits and free-standing outdoor heaters, and areas dedicated to dining al fresco no doubt attest to this need.

Professional landscape designers are expecting homeowners to initiate design makeovers to facilitate greater use of outdoor spaces. We can also expect to see expanded use of native plants in commercial landscapes, and there are plenty of reasons to consider this practice at home as well.

Reducing carbon footprints and dealing with staff shortages in these trying times has professional landscape designers looking for ways to reduce garden maintenance. Amen to that we say! Indeed quiet battery-operated power garden tools such as chainsaws and mowers are one way we home gardeners can join the corps taking the noise down a notch or two. And certainly planning to facilitate companion planting of species that have similar water requirements and care needs can help reduce the workload.

The article states: “There is a need to increase biodiversity, not just plants but also soil biology, to conserve and provide ecosystems for humans and animals…Planting design and soil should be front of mind, especially when it is increasingly challenging to obtain specified plants as commercial nurseries seem to be reducing the range of plants available — in favour of colour or flowering cultivars — to the industry.”

Even the topic of weeds has captured the pros: “Much has been written about the benefits of weeds in urban environments in creating habitats, however, landscape architects need to gain a greater understanding of which weeds are invasive and noxious as these weeds can have a devastating environmental and economic impact. The trend in weed management will go beyond the control period during the construction phase and will require a holistic approach across the whole project period from start through to maintenance…Many will think that this is not a trend but some of the tenets of landscape architecture, we will see a greater emphasis from governments and communities on conservation, biodiversity and weed management as tools to mitigate climate change.”

Of course, we can expect the pros to be at the cutting edge of garden and landscape design, and their innovations and directions can help provide us with inspiration for our own designs and better use and husbandry of our own outdoor spaces.

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Good Seasons: Trending in landscape designs for now and the future