Top five garden design trends to look out for in 2017
Garden design is strongly influenced by interior trends – and the blurring of boundaries between inside and out will intensify over the coming seasons with outdoor spaces designed to have a strong sense of home - with really comfortable outdoor rooms that are more decorative and styled.
So, taking the lead from some of the latest trends in interiors – here's a sneak preview of what to keep an eye out for in 2017:
TREND ONE: SCANDI-SLEEK
My own garden style preferences tend towards the romantic but I've discovered the beauty in a simpler more pared-back style – and the Scandi-sleek approach does this without precluding a bit of prettiness. Modern Scandinavian uses subtle colour palettes, natural materials and simple design to create a sense of calm.
White is a predominant colour backdrop with wood being an essential material, whether it's old reclaimed beams or driftwood from the beach – this adds warmth and texture to the space. Grey palettes of natural stone and slate or metal also work well in a Scandi-sleek style. The trick is to ensure clean lines and simple shapes. A pop of colour can be added with teals, mustard yellow or blue. Light, bright and calming all created with a pared-back canvas.
In our New Zealand environment, the use of natural timbers and a green plant palette works well making this style easily adaptable to our garden settings. Source some lovely timbers or mixing different textures of plants to emulate the highly textured look. Keep things sleek to contrast with the natural materials – clean slabs of pale concrete or gravel. Focus on the edges. Definition between garden areas and lawn or paving with sharp edges between different materials.
TREND TWO: MODERN RUSTIC
The modern rustic design style adapts beautifully to our New Zealand environment bringing in an updated version of the rural farm (and no. 8 wire DIY) feel. At its essence it is the notion of combining rustic character with modern materials to create spaces that are embracing and warm.
This style is all about being cozy, so you've got to have an outdoor fire of some sort – whether it's a pizza oven, fireplace or fire pit. Scour the demo-yards for wonderfully time-worn and unique slabs of timber to incorporate into fences, tables and retaining walls. The sound of water complements the fire, brings a strong sense of comfort to the space and helps to block out the distractions of surrounding urban noise – a simple copper or galvanised steel spout into a basin will suffice, or even a bubbler in an upcycled rustic basin.
Planting for this style is easy – anything native and lush with movement complements the rustic and modern materials mix and adds a sense of patriotic comfort – native grasses mass planted, tangled masses of Muehlenbeckia astonii and any of our amazing array of native ferns to add a detailed backdrop.
TREND THREE: RETRO-RELAXED
Retro style takes an eclectic mix of old styles into the present in a fun and modern way with bold patterns and colours. In the garden, this is an opportunity to have some real fun and be a bit quirky. Chrome details, curvilinear and circular forms are paired with retro-style outdoor furniture such as the butterfly chair and low-lying oval or kidney shaped tables (make use of marine ply, paint and a jigsaw to create your own outdoor retro tables). Teak and pine work well with this style. Abstracted shapes and previously outdated plants such as mother-in-laws tongue, dahlias, begonias and gladioli build a funky sense of comfort and nostalgia.
There are an amazing array of outdoor fabrics that can be used to add that pop of colour – or get some paint sample pots and have fun mixing a few key palettes from the contrasting or complementary colour wheel that will create that sense of drama in the space.
TREND FOUR: TINY TERRACE
Following on the heels of the tiny houses movement, ongoing growth of our cities will mean smaller or no gardens and a desire to bring green into even the smallest of spaces. Thinking of gardens as just a flat space limits potential – so a trend that has started in larger cities is to think about multi-level gardening and the use of clever space-saving approaches to transform tiny terraces into usable and beautiful garden opportunities.
An irrigation system set up to water the pots on a tiny terrace and regular seaweed liquid feeding is key to success with this. With this in place, there is no limit (well, apart from a check on any weight restriction of any terrace or balcony with the building owner or architect!) to the number of pots and amount of verdant greenery that can be fitted into a small space. The more the merrier with this style – classic plants that don't mind a pot and will enjoy a frost-free tiny terrace include the dramatic Poor Knights Lily (Xeronema callistemon). Mixing and matching in a tiny terrace is ok – it will work like a mini perennial border – with plants intermingling and textural and colour variation will add to the lush and verdant green oasis that is possible.
TREND FIVE: LAYERS AND LEVELS
When plants grow in nature, they grow in layers and drifts, overlapping and merging with each other. Taking cues from traditional Japanese and Chinese garden design – emphasising layering in a garden either horizontally or with levels is becoming a popular way to create relatively low-maintenance but highly dramatic outdoor spaces. Getting that three dimensional feel is all about strategically placing plants of varying sizes, colours and textures or layering in dramatic lines with different heights, colour or textures.
Borrowed views are part of the way to achieve a great layered look. Or you can add portals, windows or doorways within the garden to create that feeling of endless spaciousness. Layers of hedges or hedge-like plantings in blocks contrasting with a line of softer grasses in front of a simple dark coloured backdrop is a key method for achieving this style.
- NZ Gardener