In 2020, the popularity of home renovations, landscaping, and gardening surged. With social distancing measures in place, people had to find creative new ways to spend time with family and friends—mostly outdoors. While we enter year two of this global experience, we’ve seen a new focus on making outdoor living more comfortable, more accessible, and more common.
Spending so much time outside has helped many people reconnect with nature, and discover the many joys of outdoor living. The trend of improving our exterior living spaces is carrying through in 2021. Here are the top outdoor living trends we’re seeing grow in 2021.
Growing in Small Spaces
People are gardening wherever they can, even in tiny spaces. Whether it’s because you only have a tiny patio or not, having a vertical herb planter right near the kitchen is handy. Imagine being able to slip out and snip off a few herbs and add them directly to whatever you’re cooking in a few seconds.
There are tons of creative ideas and trends online for growing as much as possible in a small outdoor living space. These tricks are great for anyone, not just people with smaller yards.
Color Trend Gardens
Pantone’s colors of the year for 2021 are Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray. The yellow stands for the hope and energy we’re carrying into this year, and the gray represents the rock-steady strength and strong foundations that will get us all through this experience.
Color theme gardens are coming back in a big way, so why not try to tie the Pantone color trends into your yard this year? There are a million plants in the yellow spectrum. It’s more challenging to find gray, but it’s not impossible. Here are a few plants with silvery-gray tones:
- Blue fescue
- Silver falls
- Dusty miller
- Japanese painted fern
- Lambs ear
Four-Season Multi-Use Outdoor Living Spaces
Spending more time outdoors has shown many people just how many normal daily activities they can enjoy in their backyards. One of the top growing trends is creating an outdoor space that can accommodate many activities, like:
- Spending socially-distanced time with friends
- Enjoying Zoom calls with family and friends from your patio
- Working from home
Enlarging patio spaces, creating shade, light-weight modular furniture, covered areas, fireplaces, fire pits, and heating for outdoor spaces in the cooler season helps make your exterior living space more useful during all seasons.
Adding walls made of fabric, or lattice, or even fencing adds wind protection and privacy. Outdoor lighting makes a space more comfortable, welcoming, and usable for more hours of the day. Meanwhile, your lighting can provide night-time highlights to your landscape and add interesting views.
Another top trend is all about outdoor living spaces that help you relax and forget about the day’s worries, especially with the extra stress in 2020 and 2021. Sensory gardening can help you do just that by reminding you to check in with your five senses:
- Taste: Grow edible herbs like mint and basil
- Smell: Plant fragrant flowers like lavender, alyssum, or honeysuckle
- Sight: Marigolds, gerbera daisies, and pansies are colorful and eye-catching.
- Touch: Lamb’s ear, succulents, and ferns all offer different textures.
- Sound: Ornamental grasses, eucalyptus, and a water fountain add auditory ambiance.
Consider the five senses when planning your outdoor living space, and you’ll have a built-in space that reminds you to come back to the present and enjoy the moment in front of you.
With people spending more and more time outdoors, the demand to create privacy in backyards is one of the fast-growing trends. You can add privacy to your yard with creative planting:
- Columnar trees
- Evergreen hedging
- Vining plants on trellises
- Ornamental grasses
You can also add privacy with structures, either permanent or temporary.
Temporary privacy options to make you feel less like you’re in a fishbowl include:
- Shade sails
- Patio umbrellas
- Privacy screens
More permanent structures could be:
- Stone walls
- Covered decks
Growing Your Own Bouquets
Fresh cut flowers add beauty and life to your home and instantly lift your mood and make space feel more luxurious. Getting creative and arranging your own bouquets based on what is blooming now in your yard is even better. Integrate cut flowers into your existing garden beds for fresh bouquets all summer long. Great plants for bouquets include:
- Ornamental grasses
- Sweet pea
- Bachelor Button
- Baby’s breath
- Black-eyed Susan
- Blazing star
Gardening for the Environment
Gardening to support the local environment is important to many people. That doesn’t just mean using organic fertilizer. People are interested in helping out local wildlife populations by growing native plants, landscaping with water-wise plants, and rewilding parts of the yard to improve biodiversity.
The bonus of gardening in an environmentally friendly way is that it usually means local plants that are lower maintenance and require less water, which is better for your budget and gives you more free time.
Creating Beautiful Views
Designing your garden and landscape for outdoor enjoyment is excellent, but what do you see when you peek out windows in your home? You can turn those brief glances or long stares into moments of pure delight by creating vignettes of plants and garden art that are framed perfectly for viewing from the windows. Create beautiful planted areas throughout your landscape, then reshape beds and lawn edging with curves that lead the eye to these focal points.
She Sheds and Man Caves
Whether you call it a backyard cottage, your writing shed, art studio, potting shed, greenhouse, toy shed, man cave, or she shed, backyard escapes are popping up in yards across the nation. They’re a great place to chill out and relax that isn’t in your house, where you’re constantly thinking about all the things that need to be done. Simple or super fancy, make sure there’s comfy seating, a few blankets, some welcoming lighting, and maybe a beverage fridge.