Emerging garden trends for 2021

Continuing our design series with award-winning company Bowles & Wyer, this month Design Director, James Smith, reveals the five emerging trends we can expect to see in garden design in 2021.

Home is where the heart is

James points out that over the past year we have all been forced to spend more time at home, thanks to Covid-19 and this has really focussed our attention on our gardens. We have appreciated more than ever how precious these outdoor rooms are and it has set a lot of us thinking about upgrading or redesigning our spaces to better suit ourselves and families: “Mental health, comfort and stimulation lies at the heart of this and gardens will need to become more multi-faceted in 2021,” says James. “Not only do they need to be more relaxing spaces where you can watch seasonal change, but they need to provide space to exercise, garden and even entertain in small groups,” he adds.

(Image: credit Paul Upward)

Expect to see gardens designed similar to an interior space – with comfy multi-functional furniture, lighting, heating and perhaps even the odd chin-up bar, play area or outdoor kitchen.

Protecting the Planet

David Attenborough’s, ‘A Life on our Planet‘ brings sharply into focus the problems we faced on Earth, both now and in the decades to come. It is now more important than ever that we all look to change our mindset and garden design is a part of this: “Re-wilding in gardens has long been a design trend, but one that is set to increase in the coming year – whether it’s creating no mow areas, establishing wildflower meadows or simply planting to increase local biodiversity,” says James. He points out however, that we need to go one step further, for example, when specifying and procuring materials for projects we need to use the most sustainable options available: “Expect to see designers paying more attention to this and educating their clients on the different options. Long gone are the days when we quickly throw away old materials – we now need to look at how best to recycle them on site, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of our work,” James points out.

Working with the land

Design may be about recreating an outdoor space but that doesn’t mean you can’t work with what’s already there – namely the earth!

(Image: credit Alan Johnson)

James explains that sculpting gardens with existing soil and sub-soils has and will become more popular as exporting excess materials is now very expensive: “There is also an environmental benefit to keeping and re-using as much material as possible, unless its contaminated. Expect to see more land sculpting and land art in garden projects in 2021, as designers look at creative ways to re-use materials.

Commercial Greening

It is not only our own personal spaces and gardens that are changing, commercial landscape is too. With fewer people commuting and more people working from home now, businesses, developers and building owners will need to re-focus their offering in 2021 in order to entice employees back to the office: “Many are investing in green spaces around their buildings and in communal areas, to create a high quality biophilic environment at the workplace,” says James.

(Image: credit Bowles & Wyer)

Gardens and plants have been proven to help people relax, so by designing green spaces such as external terraces, employees will have the opportunity to enjoy some fresh air, hold meetings and spend their lunch breaks away from their desks. So, expect to see more ‘Walk and Talk’ routes around office buildings, urban farming and high-quality roof environments to help motivate employees.

A working garden

(Image: credit Paul Upward)

Increased working from home is set to become a permanent arrangement for some and garden studio workspaces are set to grow in popularity. James points out that this in turn leads to holistic thinking about how they can be integrated within the garden setting: “Aside from work, we’re all more mindful about how we can become more self-sufficient, which grew from the lockdown period when supplies of food and essentials became restricted. Many have since experimented with home-grown produce – whether in small pots or in a greenhouse and often with the assistance of younger family members to help nurture the plants,” says James. So, we can expect to see greater demand for vegetable patches as part of garden designs next year.

Bowles & Wyer are RHS Chelsea Show Garden Gold Medal winners and BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) Grand Award Winners. For more information please visit: https://www.bowleswyer.co.uk/

Picture credits: All images are strictly © of names credited below image. Banner image: credit Quintin Lake.