Noteworthy trends shaping the gardening world in 2020

Using a small space to the best advantage. Picture courtesy a small space to the best advantage. Picture courtesy is rising in popularity throughout the world, and a big hit with younger generations who are drawing on the knowledge of older generations, incorporating it into our changing world, and using technology in clever and inspiring ways, knowing that as we enter a new decade it becomes more and more important to create healthy and happy places to live, and what better way to do it than with plants.

Green spaces have been diminishing in our cities for years, but with people becoming more environmentally aware a revolution has begun, and we see moves towards bee-friendly gardens, as well as themed gardens and multi-sensory spaces. With half the world’s current population living in cities, space is at a premium, but the size of your garden Multi-sensory spaces are hot. Picture courtesy spaces are hot. Picture courtesy irrelevant - well-planned micro-sized spaces can have a huge impact on you and your environment. Whether you have a roof terrace, a tiny balcony, or perhaps only a windowsill, with the latest urban gardening trends and tech, you certainly can add a bit more ‘green’ to your indoor and outdoor spaces. Trendy space-saving gardening techniques include using vertical spaces by incorporating living ‘green walls’ and the use of hanging baskets and trellises. People are also re-vamping their front doors and porches, beautifying them with the best decorations out there – Mother Nature!

The trend of focusing on what you have available to you, making the most of the space you have, and using it to enhance not only your lifestyle, but also that of local wildlife and the earth as a whole, continues to inspire gardeners to find creative new ways to incorporate a bit more 'green' into their lives. Re-purposing, re-using and recycling remain important, and a quick internet search will inspire you with thousands of ideas for repurposing items to use in the garden, or making them new again.

Super-size your indoor plants in 2020. Image BY Ferenc Keresi from PixabaySuper-size your indoor plants in 2020. Image BY Ferenc Keresi from PixabayIndoor pot plants, and especially large ones which really make a statement, will take centre stage in people’s homes in 2020, as more and more people recognize the important role indoor plants play in purifying the air, their mood-enhancing effects, and aesthetic contributions. However, keeping your plants alive may prove fatal if the conditions indoors are not ideal and you are not watering correctly, so more and more gardeners are turning to garden tech to keep their indoor plants thriving. If your indoor space doesn’t get enough light, invest in a light meter and grow lights if necessary. These are all freely available from gardener’s supply stores. And, if you are still unsure if the light is right, there’s even an app for that! Grouping your plants together indoors is beneficial when using grow lights, and it will also help with watering, especially if you are using a drip irrigation system. For watering individual pots around the house and patio, investing in a good moisture meter will take the guesswork out of watering, and prove to be invaluable, or perhaps self-watering pots will serve you best.

Growing edibles indoors is also taking off, as DIY systems are becoming more affordable and freely available.

Outdoor kitchens are trendy for 2020.  Image by toddpharistx from PixabayOutdoor kitchens are trendy for 2020. Image by toddpharistx from PixabayWell planned and equipped outdoor kitchens are very trendy, and because people are becoming more concerned than ever with what they eat and how it's grown, growing as much as your own food as possible in your space is continuing to increase in popularity. For this reason herbs and vegetables are often incorporated into the design of outdoor kitchens, growing in convenient planters nearby, so guests and the host can easily pick some produce to include in their meal or to add to cocktails – it can’t get fresher than that! Exciting new dwarf varieties of vegetables can easily be grown in pots or raised beds and even dwarf fruit trees are available for patios and small gardens, so there is really no excuse to not grow your own. “Growing Vegetables in South Africa” e-book will get you started with ease….click here to order or read more.

There’s a returned interest in plant medicine, with more and more gardeners is taking a deeper look at herbalism and natural health, and growing their own herbs not only for their culinary and medicinal uses, but also for making natural DIY pesticides and fungicides for the garden. “Growing Culinary Herbs in South Africa” is the latest e-book available on this site, and covers everything you need to know about the herbs you love, so order yours today, you won’t be disappointed.

Create your own secret garden. Picture courtesy your own secret garden. Picture courtesy gardeners see their space as a retreat where they can be private and relax, and many are including space for a small secret garden in a secluded place where they can meditate, read, or simply relax in total privacy.

Water features of some kind are also trending for their soothing sound and presence, adding a special magic to the garden. Water is also sure to attract birds of all kinds, and simply adding a bird bath can beautify your space.

Composting at home remains popular because not only does it reduce your carbon footprint and provide free compost for your garden, it can be done on both large and small properties, so do your research online to find the perfect composter for your space and your family’s needs.

Gardeners are also opting to swap soil for more sustainable growing options, such as wood fibre and green waste compost, as they put the environment first. To limit soil structure damage and help wildlife thrive, gardeners are also adopting a 'no-dig' approach when it comes to gardening.  As increasing numbers of gardeners are looking for ways to help wildlife numbers increase in their own gardens, bee hotels, wildlife ponds, log piles, plants for pollinators, and compost heaps are tipped to rise in popularity this year.

Water-wise gardens are sustainsable. Picture courtesy gardens are sustainsable. Picture courtesy gardening and the need to conserve water is gaining in popularity, even in areas where access to water is not a real issue. Sustainable gardening also continues to gain traction, with many gardeners switching to natural methods of pest control in order to help protect support local pollinators, and especially honey bees. Modern gardeners are looking for tough plants which are naturally bug and disease resistant, and which can be grown successfully without the need for spraying or coddling. Even Roses, which require a lot of spraying, are being studied in trials which test them for performance in a no-spray setting.

Immersive, or sensory gardens are the new ‘buzz words’ with planting schemes today focused more on textures, colours, fragrances, and other themes, rather than on one specific centrepiece. With additions of wall-climbing plants and canopies, a lot of gardens are now small and enclosed havens, rather than open landscapes. This urban gardening trend not only looks aesthetically pleasing, but also smells and feels good, and it seems that sensory gardens are here to stay.

Darker hard landscaping materials are vogue for 2020. Picture courtesy Darker hard landscaping materials are vogue for 2020. Picture courtesy Darker colours are now very much in vogue for hard landscaping materials, and dark charcoal or black is the fresh, new, modern outdoor look for tiles, railings, fences, and even walls. Using darker colours wisely in your garden can actually give it the illusion of more space, and for outdoor surfaces they require less upkeep than white or other pale colours. Darker background colours will also make your plants and flowers ‘pop’ and look even more vibrant.

Flexible, family friendly gardens are also growing in popularity with home owners thinking long term about how their space could be used and easily changed as their family grows. For example, young couples are creating designated safe zones with a sandpit and play equipment for their children, but are designing it so that the area can easily be converted into a vegetable garden or fire pit once the children are grown up.

With more and more land being lost to urbanisation, there is a growing focus on incorporating more indigenous shrubs, trees and groundcovers into our planting schemes in order to encourage and help sustain wildlife, and especially pollinators.

Succulents are still in vogue. Picture courtesy are still in vogue. Picture courtesy on plants with beautiful leaves, and perennials which flower seasonally is trending for low-maintenance garden designs, because these permanent garden plants form the backbone of the low maintenance garden, and if you select plants for all seasons, you can have a beautiful garden throughout the year with a minimum of fuss.

The other class of plants that’s been booming is succulents, and this is a global trend where both tender and hardy succulents are being used in gardens. Fuelling the interest is the wide variety of shapes, colours, and forms of succulents available, as well as their ease of growth, low water needs, compact growth, and their resistance to pests and diseases.

Vertical gardening, as well as roof gardening continue to grow in popularity as people in spaces of all sizes realise their potential and the aesthetic beauty they bring to gardens.  Even a single hanging basket on a small balcony can add a beautiful focal point, and a simple trellis with a few potted climbing plants can create privacy and a living green wall, making the world of difference to a small space.

Kits are available which make creating a living wall very easy, and DIY enthusiasts can easily create their own using pots and wrought iron flower pot rings, attached to a sturdy wooden or brick wall. Wrought iron planter rings attached to the wooded panels will support quite large terracotta pots, and larger pots help keep plants happy and healthy, and do not require as much watering as small ones. Installing a drip irrigation system before planting is inexpensive, and essential if you really want your plants to flourish, and simply makes sense, as it will save you precious water and time.

Before purchasing any plants, take note of how much sunshine your wall receives, and remember this will change during the winter months. It is also sensible to select plants which require the same amount of water, especially if you are installing a drip irrigation system. Also consider exposure to the elements, like cold winter winds, or exposure to harsh summer sunshine. All these will influence your plant selection. Be practical and work with what you have, and you are sure to have great success with your vertical garden.

Vertical gardening is here to stay. Picture courtesy gardening is here to stay. Picture courtesy with a mounding or trailing growth habit will work especially well in these vertical spaces, so plant those herbs or flowers you love and use the most. This type of wall works very well with edible plants like strawberries and perpetual lettuce, as well as many herbs like thyme and mint. In frost-free regions you could create a tropical hanging garden with bromeliads and other flamboyant tropical plants, grouped with hanging ferns and vines. In drought prone regions a succulent wall can be absolutely stunning, and if drip irrigation is installed, very water-wise too. Feel free to experiment with your own plant choices!

If your furry friends like to chew on plant materials, ensure that the plants you are using are safe for your pets, or place them out of their reach. Lists of poisonous plants are freely available online, and as our Plant Index continues to expand and pages are re-vamped, we are including information on toxicity as well as any other information we deem necessary for you to know.

Although designing your outdoor and indoor spaces properly may require many hours of research and planning on your part, the cash savings and other time-saving benefits of a well-planned and executed modern garden will be well worth the effort. Also it will fascinate and inspire you to a whole new level of gardening.

Knowledge is power, and having the discipline to finish all your planning before you purchase anything is guaranteed to save you money. Sign up as a member of Gardening in South Africa today to have access to our Plant Index of over 900 plants, and our Articles section which contains a wealth of gardening knowledge just for you. Equip yourself for success and sign up now.