Experiential, eco-friendly & ultra violet: The 2018 landscape trends are in

landscape trends

Experiential and eco-friendly are two of the top landscape trends for 2018, the US-based National Association of Landscape Professionals said as it released its annual list of the trends expected to make an impact on both residential and commercial outdoor spaces.

It said the trends reflect “an evolution of the outdoor living trend we’ve seen grow in popularity over the past few years,” as a healthy economy stimulates homeowners and property managers to innovate in “fun, new ways.”

The experiential element comes in as “landscapes are thoughtfully and creatively built for living, working and playing, and bring together form and function for a quality outdoor experience”. More residential landscapes feature designated areas for a variety of activities from cooking and dining, to relaxing and even working outdoors.

Homeowners are being helped in this by the huge array of fully integrated outdoor lighting and audio/visual systems for a multi-sensory and multi-use experience, at any time of the day or night. And for offices, the NALP said there’s an increase in the number of landscapes that include walking and bicycle paths, dining areas or gardens to enhance the experience as businesses compete to retain the best staff.

Of course, eco-awareness can’t be ignored. And negative publicity in recent years showing lush green gardens in states suffering water shortages has highlighted the importance of being environmentally aware. In a country where Millennial and Gen Z consumers increasingly operate under eco principles at home and expect the businesses they deal with to do the same, it’s crucial. For more insight, subscribers can read our report on Sustainability and the Consumer 2018. 

That means an emphasis on water management and conservation. The NALP said “sustainability in landscaping is more than a trend, it influences how landscapes are created and maintained now and in the years to come.”

Eco-friendly watering practices are expected to continue to take off in 2018, including the use of plants native to a region (which generally use less water), xeriscaping (planning a landscape to use low-water-use plants), and smarter irrigation technology.

Another effect of climate awareness is that unpredictable weather patterns have seen landscape enhancements that withstand extreme conditions proliferating to also allow spaces that can be enjoyed on unseasonably cool or warm days.

“More landscapes are planned with the unexpected in mind,” the NALP said. That means pergolas with retractable canopies, outdoor patio heaters, and hardier hardscape materials that can handle drastic temperature fluctuations.

The tools category is also seeing changes, mixing an advanced tech approach with ecology. That means many lawn mowers, leaf blowers and similar equipment feature low or no emissions, are battery-powered, and are quieter. And professionals are integrating more tech such as apps, 3D modelling and drones into landscape planning.

As the move to outdoor living suggests, consumers also seem to want move colour, moving on from 2017’s greenery trend.

The NALP expects Pantone’s choice of Ultra Violet as the colour of the year to have its place in garden planning as we see more violets, verbena, clematis, iris and other purple flowers. ‘Patterned’ plants are also getting their time in the garden spotlight as their striped leaves or brightly coloured veins strike a chord with the whimsical mood.


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