Those lucky enough to call an outdoor terrace, patio, or yard of their own know that, like the plants and flowers contained within them, gardens flourish in direct proportion to the care and consideration exercised on them. But in recent years, the push to turn these green spaces into extensions of the home—equal parts form and function—has inspired designers to think bigger, informing their use of foliage, structure, and materials in surprising ways. Naturally, some ideas are better than others. AD polled five landscape architects to see which garden trends they expect to reach critical mass this year, from the new “it” plant (fear not, succulent lovers) to the ornamental flora of the future. Scroll through the list, then get to work. After all, spring has already sprung.
“We think people want more out of their plants. They have to be beautiful, but they should also help purify the air or provide a fruit and flower. We are working with fruit trees and espaliers; they are the most incredible sculptural element in the garden. We are also using herbs and veggies in ways that ornamental plants would traditionally be used in gardens. Plants such as fennel, catmint, and rosemary look fantastic in any perennial border or feature pot. Strawberry plants make an incredible, fragrant ground cover that you can feast on all summer long. And we have subbed some ornamental shrubs for blueberry and raspberry bushes.” —Jacqueline and Damien Harrison of Harrison Green in New York City
“In general, lawns are less sought-after every year that goes by. I expect to see that continue into 2017 big time. Lawns are relatively high maintenance and require tons of water and fertilizer to stay green. And as lots get subdivided and there are no longer as many massive expanses of ground to cover, people want to pack more interesting things into their small spaces than just lawn. Raised beds and organic fertilizers are a big deal. Plus, local, organic fertilizers that have a biodiverse mixture of soil microbes and beneficial fungus should be selling way more, as many of the larger name brands are produced in other places, such as California, and include soil microbes that thrive there but not in, say, the Pacific Northwest.” —Tristan Heberlein of Solstice Landscape Design in Seattle
Anything out of the ordinary
“As the population becomes more and more sophisticated and educated as to exactly what they want in their gardens, I see cycads, an ancient family of plants that are reminiscent of palms and ferns, becoming more popular. People have gone beyond the typical varieties of plants and want something new and unusual, something they don’t see every day; the cycads fit that bill. That said, with the weather being what it is, it’s clear that succulents and other low-water-use plants will be taking up more and more space in the nurseries around here.” —Ralph Robinson of Robinson Environmental Design in Los Angeles
Flowers meant to leave the garden
“There’s a definite trend toward heritage and cottage flowers here in the U.K.—foxgloves, astrantias, peonies, Café au Lait dahlias, Queen Anne’s Lace in Green Mist…all flowers ultimately grown for cut-flower gardens and mini meadows. On the wildflower front, we are growing and pushing poppies from all over: English, Oriental, Californian, Himalayan, and Icelandic. There’s also a beautiful outdoor garden-to-table look and vibe trending here in edible kitchen gardens, with edible flowers like violas, tulips, and nasturtium for dressing salads.” —Adrienne Curzon of Hendy Curzon Gardens Limited in Oxfordshire, England
“It’s becoming trendy to recycle, upcycle, and repurpose materials from your existing home or garden. On each of my projects, I always upcycle at least one item. This ranges from reusing aged, extinct brick to turning an indoor mirror into an outdoor mirror. I feel like part of having a hip garden is being kind to the environment, not wasting water, and recycling where you can. I’m also finding more solar-powered lanterns that you can hang from trees, which I think is such a great affordable fix.” —Kate Anne Riemer of Kate Anne Designs in Los Angeles