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Ready? Set? Plant!

By Sarah Doolan
While Australians spent more time at home during lockdown, it wasn’t just tradies and home builders who found themselves extremely busy.

Landscapers and garden designers were in demand, as people looked to update the outdoor areas they were forced to spend so much time in.

Pools were also in deep demand and are predicted to continue their popularity into the new year, while tipped to make a comeback are the humble veggie patch and herb gardens.

We spoke to three landscape and garden design experts about upcoming trends, which have clearly been influenced by extra time spent at home and climate change, both of which have changed the way homeowners approach their outdoor spaces.

Curves and arches on structural forms

Curves and arches, a throwback to mid-century design, are predicted to be popular in gardens, with curved edges used on garden beds and other garden features.

“They’re really popular and will continue on for the next one or two years,” Mint Pool and Landscape design creative director Darin Bradbury said.

Curved edges will also be used with elements like architectural concrete, which is also used for floating stairs and even seating.

Curves will also feature in the use of round pavers of different sizes, instead of square or rectangular ones, which would add a “mid-century vibe” to gardens.

Textural and water efficient plants

Given the bushfires which hit areas around Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra in 2020, and the constant threat of climate change, plants that don’t need a lot of water are expected to be chic next year.

Succulents, which need very little water, look set to be popular. And hedges with lilly pillies, which are popular now, will continue to be so in 2022, as will hardy rainforest trees. Muted colours are also expected to become a big feature of gardens next year.

Leaf, Stone, Water’s landscape designer and garden stylist Brian Fuller said variegated plants (those with multi-colours and different leaf shapes) would continue to be popular.

“I think people realise flowering plants are harder work, and they need more water,” the Sydney-based landscape designer said.

“If there is a flowering plant, there doesn’t have to be a whole lot of them.”

Plunge pools

Pools have become so popular during COVID-19 that some people have been waiting up to 12 months to have one installed.

“Pools in general are hot property,” Mr Bradbury said. “But they are mini size and plunge pools – small pools are being used where there’s not a lot of space.”

In keeping with the curved trend, pools with rounded edges will be particularly in demand, as will those with infinity edges, which overlook the landscape or water.

“People understand the beauty of plunge pools to cool down,” Bates Landscape owner and designer Michael Bates said.

Natural materials including using stones and timber

Issues with the supply of building materials during the pandemic have seen a rise in the use of more natural alternatives, which also happen to be longer wearing. Natural stone and timbers have become particularly in vogue in gardens across the country.

Natural stone including basalt, limestone and granite will be used in gardens as both features and even as paving next year, as would the use of cobblestones, Mr Bradbury said.

“Limestone, that grey colour, is really being used a lot. Timber hasn’t really ever gone out of fashion, and it’s a really soft, natural look for fences and screens.”

Veggie and herb gardens

Being in lockdown over the past two years has given people not just pause for thought, but more time to spend gardening. That has seen a re-emergence of the humble veggie and herb gardens.

However, these garden areas are often being screened off from the rest of the garden, Mr Bradbury said.

“From a design perspective they don’t necessarily want to see them, so they screen them off. But certain people want their kids to have access to them, so want them in the garden.”

Outdoor areas a focal point

Outdoor entertaining areas have always been popular in Australia, however, it has become even more of a focus since COVID-19 hit.

While BBQs and outdoor kitchens are ever-popular, in 2022 charcoal fires and gas fire pits are expected to be hot trends.

“You can slow cook something on them while you’re gardening,” Mr Bates said.

While people were loving gardens designed by professionals, they were often putting their own personal touches in to suit their lifestyles and family.

“People are interpreting their personal style into a garden and home and that’s really come about because of a recalibration of priorities since COVID-19,” Mr Fuller said.

So, here’s to a bloomin’ great 2022, and to more time spent in the garden – just not because of lockdowns.


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