Here at Outer, we know a well-designed outdoor space can transform your entire year. To get a sense of what’s around the corner for landscape design in 2022, we tapped the savvy landscape design minds at Tilly, an online landscape design service. They offer an insider look at what’s sure to be trending this year and beyond.
As environmental concerns become the norm and tech makes innovative advances, we’re seeing a more conscientious approach to everything from selecting plants to upgrading irrigation and drainage systems. On the design front, we’ll likely see lots of new, exciting tech and entertainment features to make backyards that much more relaxing – and fun.
Read on for a comprehensive trend forecast guide from Tilly with several ways homeowners are bringing indoor comforts outside, and transforming their spaces into beautiful, sustainable year-round hangouts.
1. Stamp Out Invasive Species
As with all industries, homeowners are starting to become extremely savvy when it comes to their yards and not only what looks good, but what is good for the environment and their surroundings. We see a shift underway: the focal point is going from native plants to also understanding the importance and harm of invasive species. Invasive species are an indigenous species whose introduction into a region is not natural and therefore they disrupt the ecosystem and cause harm to everything from the insect population to native plant life — even farming, soil, and waterways. Planting invasive species has become so damaging that some towns are even offering to remove them for free in order to protect the neighborhood.
This concept can be something that even top designers and nurseries struggle with as consumer demand surges for invasive plants in certain areas, but it’s a piece of the puzzle that homeowners can advocate for in their own yards to make a difference.
2. Low Water Usage Landscapes
With droughts, extreme heat waves, and water shortages, xeriscape landscaping will continue to grow in popularity across the US, but specifically boom in the West and Southwest. Xeriscape is creating a landscape that requires little or no irrigation to maintain. A well-designed low-water plan— combined with homeowners who invest in smart irrigation systems— will greatly reduce water bills, remove the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and shift the design focus to native plants, which are more likely to thrive in the surrounding environment. Designers are savvy at making this pragmatic landscape look seamless, sophisticated, and natural.
3. Storm Water Mitigation
Another big trend is homeowners actively seeking natural solutions to help eradicate drainage and flooding problems from 2021. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that runoff is a major source of pollution in our waterways. We predict this will influence design through:
- Drainage Solutions: Underground drainage systems aren’t a part of the visual landscape, but water damage has forced people to revisit their landscapes and improve their grading and systems. Investing in a good drainage system, drainage swales, underground seepage tanks, french drains, will be a must next year. This helps reduce and slow surface run off and allow that water to soak into the ground rather than travel across fields and roadways where it picks up chemicals and dumps them into waterways.
- Rain Gardens: Rain Gardens are a depression designed to collect runoff from a roof, driveway or yard and are usually filled with shrubs or perennials - especially native plants that like wet feet! They are a natural and beautiful way to help with water runoff and can be effective in removing up to 90% of nutrients and chemicals and up to 80% of sediments from the rainwater runoff. They allow up to 30% more water to soak into the ground (Groundwater Foundation).
- Permeable pavers: Incorporating permeable pavers can help slow down water runoff, recharge the aquifer, and allow it to infiltrate into the ground better. They can also be a good option to address tightening zoning laws.
1. Herb Gardens
During COVID many homeowners dove head first into creating plentiful vegetable gardens. They then learned that a veggie garden is a big commitment of time and attention and that veggie gardens (depending on the garden size and level of expertise) can be fairly low yield. As lives get busier, we predict homeowners will downsize and focus on herb gardens, which are less upkeep, need less space, and can be used frequently when cooking or for drinks. These gardens can be as simple as having herbs in planters near your kitchen door (or on your balcony) for easy access when in the kitchen.
2. Doggy-Influenced Design
Many people brought home dogs during the pandemic and we anticipate homeowners will start making design decisions to support their furry new friends with beautiful dog-friendly areas. Dogs often create dead spots in the lawn, but adding synthetic turf and teaching them to use the turf as a bathroom can help save your grassy area and simply needs a washdown every once in a while. Homeowners will also invest in fences to keep their pups safe and we’ll see a rise in dog runs where it’s okay for the dog to rip up the grass and run amok.
3. Backyard Neighborhood Bar & Grill
As people continue to realize the joy their backyard can bring, they are looking for ways to maximize its functionality. Outdoor kitchens have been popular for a while, but generally consist of a grill and mini fridge. As people continue to push the boundaries of entertaining outdoors (and at home), we predict you will see more elaborate set-ups, specifically with “bar areas.” A bar type counter with stools for friends and family to relax and converse will be the new coveted watering hole amongst friends.
4. Smart Outdoor Technology
We’ve heard about smart irrigation that controls your sprinklers, but there is so much more on the market. From soil sensors, to TVs that can be used in direct sunlight, high-quality outdoor speakers, projectors, and top-of-the-line home pool cleaners— investing in these products creates the ultimate entertaining space and offers maximum convenience with new weather resistant tech.
Newer on the market are cordless robotic lawn mowers with GPS and wifi so you can watch TV with your feet up while mowing your lawn! Outdoor lights have come a long way with products that are voice controlled and can set the mood with 16 million (yes, million!) colors or shades of white. There are home and shed security systems that can be accessed with fingerprints instead of bulky padlocks. We’ve seen some commercial furniture with hotspots too; can’t wait until those launch for homeowners.
5. Finding Square Footage
While the outdoors has taken on a new meaning to homeowners, landscape designers and homeowners will continue to find new ways to maximize the space and “find” new square footage in their yards. For example, pergolas won’t be covered in vines, but instead have a sunbrella awning underneath that’s rain resistant to make the space more usable. Inground pools or hot tubs will have moveable decks, so space is regained when not in use.
We also anticipate more creative uses of the traditional retaining wall: hanging an edible garden or projecting movies onto the side of a shed. We recently turned a Tilly client’s space under the stairs into a bike and BBQ storage. For a long narrow space, add a bocce court that can double as an entertainment zone with a long table, or a spot to work out. The request for cocktail pools, or ‘spools’ have risen and people are seeing the benefit to having these entertainment features in their own yard.
6. Creative Upcycling
You have probably seen the classic yard upcycling trends, such as using a tree stump or a vintage claw foot bathtub as a planter, but we expect homeowners will extend their creativity even further. For example, you’ll see tree stumps as a children’s playspace in the backyard; or vintage bar carts to shelve plants vertically on a patio space; mounting old windows, mirrors or chalkboards to fences for decoration and/or functional use. We had a client use an old bathtub as a small pond ecosystem and another hang a vintage door horizontally to liven a boring stucco wall in their outdoor entertaining area. Taking inspiration from your surroundings is a great way to get creative and have fun!
7. Paving Patterns
Paving patterns have been rising in popularity in interior design and Tilly predicts this will extend into the outdoors as well. Unexpected paving patterns can quickly take a space from great to stunning and memorable. Large pavers in a running bond pattern will be the new contemporary look rather than multiple sized pieces. Paving with a smoother finish rather than a textured or rock faced look will be a go to style. We expect porcelain paving to rise in popularity as well. It doesn’t get as hot as bluestone so can be a great option around pools.
8. Indoor Inspiring the Outdoors
Of course the indoor always inspires outdoor trends and we’re seeing a shift in color popularity. Gray has held court for years, but we expect design to shift from cool colors, like grays and whites, to more warm earthy colors like tans and browns bringing a cozy and intimate feel to spaces.
New styles will emerge in the outdoors that mimic indoor trends, such as retro: bright colored hammock weave patio chairs and retro shaped coffee tables and deck shapes. Modern Farmhouse will rise in popularity, giving a spin to the farmhouse trend we’ve seen over the past decade. Add a long sleek couch next to barn stable doors or lantern inspired lights with flower blooming shrubs. Rustic, a charming trend that places an emphasis on rugged and natural beauty will play well with the greenery and plants in a yard.
Contemporary spaces with full plantings, rather than the minimalistic aesthetic we're used to seeing, will become more popular. California Modern and naturalistic styles will be huge in Texas and Western states, with a focus on drought-tolerant plants or modern designs softened with grasses and perennials. Cottage style gardens will trend in the Southern and Midwest States with a more modern and classic look in the Northeast.
At Outer, we’ve already seen several of these trends set in motion at our Neighborhood Showrooms. Take a look through for added inspiration as you get your yard ready for those warmer months.
If this has sparked ideas and you’re ready to make some changes in your yard, check out Tilly as a great option for an affordable design partner! They have designers across the country and have worked with hundreds of homeowner’s like you.