Whether you're in need of a complete garden re-design or simply want to upgrade what you already have, we've compiled the top trends of 2018 with insight from gardening experts and designers on planting, materials, and design styles.
Spring and summer is the ideal time for enjoying the outdoor space, and alfresco dining is set to be bigger than ever this year. Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas will be a key trend, says The Greenhouse People. "It's perfect for those of us who lack space in our kitchens or dining rooms, as we can move entertaining friends and family outside," they explain. "Create a dedicated area with comfy furniture and mood lighting, complete with a sunken fire pit, BBQ or pizza oven."
"Applying muted tones like grey to your woven furniture is increasingly popular, adding an element of sophistication to your outdoor living area," says the team at John Lewis. "However, as well as the popularity of natural colors and finishes, more of us are becoming braver in our outdoor furniture choices – looking to inject pops of vibrant color into our outdoor spaces using contemporary furniture designs and cutting-edge textile design."
"There's an inspiring new way of looking at your garden which is good news for the more hands-off amongst us," say the gardening enthusiasts at The Greenhouse People. "Wabi-sabi, an acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death, is nothing new for the Japanese who have been practicing this art since the 15th century, but for the Western world it couldn't be further away from the never-ending quest for perfection."
Balcony gardening has been on a steady rise in recent years, but now, with more people living in rented properties or with little or no outdoor space in city areas, this new approach to gardening is proving to be popular.
"Garden space is at a premium for most homeowners," explains Richard Frost, managing director at The Posh Shed Company, who had a 300% increase in sales of its Chelsea shed in 2017. "The Chelsea is unique for a shed as it features built-in shelving on the outside so that capacity is maximized without internal space being compromised."
And the shed trends don't stop there. .. According to Posh Shed, multi-use sheds are also growing in popularity. "A shed isn't just a place for storing tools anymore," Frost explains. "The she-shed has been a big trend in the past few years and we're now seeing people using sheds to serve a more practical functional space."
"Coupled with rising food prices and a growing appreciation of organic produce, in 2018 the grow your own movement will really see a resurgence," explains The Greenhouse People.
Posh Shed explains that 2018 will see "growth in the solar market in the garden," and not just for ornamental lighting, but for practical solutions too. Frost adds: "We now offer solar hubs with our sheds to grant gardeners the ability to charge their phone or even power a light so they can stay outdoors longer."
A key interior and kitchen trend, copper, both as a material and color, will make a big impact in 2018, according to Paul Hensey FSGD. Weathering to a beautiful bluish-green patina, hard landscaping in copper can provide a wonderful sense of warmth to planting and a contrast to surrounding gravel, stone or wood.
It's all about shrubs this year, say designers from the Society of Garden Designers. It'll be a move away from naturalistic perennials and grasses to more exotic and unusual specimens.
Already popular in interior design, wood-effect porcelain tiles look set to become a trend in garden design, suggests designer John Wyer FSGD, who first used them two years ago on his award-winning garden at RHS Chelsea. Hard-wearing, scratch, stain and heat-resistant, in 2018 we'll see them used for both flooring and cladding in a variety of patterns.
This year we can expect to see more low-level woodland-style planting, mixing ferns, mosses, anemones and tufted grasses, says garden designer Adolfo Harrison MSGD. This will work particularly well in tricky, shaded city gardens.
"Prepare to see a contemporary update on the classic crazy paving with large-scale natural indigenous stone," says Cassandra Crouch MSGD. Gardens will also feel less structured, as geometric lines and hard surfaces are softened by planting, and edges are broken down to create the feeling of a garden that has been there for years.
Mindfulness, the ancient Buddhist tradition of immersing yourself in the present moment, has become a huge buzzword in wellbeing over the past few years, and it's set to have a "strong influence over how we design and appreciate our gardens in 2018," predicts The Greenhouse People.
It's no surprise that limestone is set to make a return to the domestic garden. This year, we'll see the introduction of "harder-wearing mid-toned stones rather than the bright white varieties of a few years ago, reflecting the natural, warm color palettes popular in interior design."