Spring is here and, if you’re like me, that means it’s time to get outside and do some projects. So let’s look at some 2022 trends for inspiration.
The pandemic caused a dramatic shift in how we use the space both inside and outside our homes. Working and learning at home means our homes, by necessity, have become far more multi-functional than they used to be. Humans crave connection, so we re-envisioned our yards and driveways as safe gathering spaces. And people are sharing their homes with new pets added to the family as pandemic companions.
Many of the trends we are seeing are not necessarily new, but the thinking is more mindful after the last couple years. We are no longer creating space to simply impress. Instead, we are finding new, creative ways to transform, preserve, and enjoy our space.
Transforming Outdoor Living
Outdoor living is not a new concept but we are seeing it through a new lens. With one or two adults working from home, older relatives moving in, and children learning part or full time from home, we have had to rethink our use of space. Why can’t the home office be outdoors? Could science class move outside? With so many people sharing the home during the day, could our outdoor space be more flexible?
Incorporating garden “rooms” into the landscape can give us a place to get away from the hubbub inside. If we divide the landscape into rooms, we also need paths to connect those spaces. Grass can make cool, soft paths, and make the open space more usable. Consider instead of having an entire yard of lawn, focusing on smaller areas of lawn where it will thrive and serve a purpose.
Brie the Plant Lady has grassy pathways between her foodscape beds that connect to an open area of lawn perfect for outdoor dinners with friends. Check out Brie's gardening ideas and advice on the Soil³ blog.
An outdoor office can be a truly enjoyable and inspiring location. The she-shed craze is now trending toward an office retreat set in a lovely garden corner, or at the end of a calming expanse of lawn. Even if you don’t have an outbuilding for this purpose, a shaded space with a chair and a table can become the remote office on nice days. Imagine the Zoom background! Plus we all look better on Zoom in natural light, right? At the same time, we need these spaces to be low maintenance and quiet.
Imagine being in your outdoor office on a very important meeting when your neighbor fires up the leaf blower or the lawn mower. Hit mute! California has taken a dramatic step in noise reduction, and we expect other states to follow suit. By 2024 all gas-powered lawn care equipment will be banned in California. This is a radical change. One thing driving that change is the robotics revolution in lawn mowers!
A robotic lawn mower runs on a battery with an electric charging station much like a robotic vacuum. It mows the lawn quietly and independently while you focus on other things.
Read some robotic mower case studies.
In 2022 we can expect to see more focus on the landscape as a healing space for meditation, prayer, self-care, and better mental health. Imagine indoors where the TV is on, family members are taking classes online, someone is on a conference call… where can you go to escape the electronic buzz? Outside, of course!
Envision a circle of well-kept lawn surrounded by a border of pollinator plants, or a shady retreat beneath a spreading tree. Wouldn’t this be a great place to unplug, de-stress, and take a mental health break?
Less Hardscaping, More Softness
Supply chain issues have had a severe impact on many industries including the landscaping industry. It has been very difficult to source hardscaping materials, so we are refocusing on softer, more natural materials. Grass feels better under bare feet than gravel or pavers, and a lawn is a great space to lay on a blanket with a good book or play with children and pets.
One of our Super-Sod families enjoying play time on their lawn.
A well-established lawn and strategically located planting beds with mulch absorb water run-off unlike impervious surfaces which increase water runoff and erosion. This is becoming increasingly important as the climate changes and we see more storms and floods. (Read 10 reasons why sod is a good solution for erosion control.)
A well placed rain garden can handle excess run-off and focus the water back into the water table. Rich, healthy soil feeds a robust root system, reduces watering needs, controls erosion, and withstands drought better than poor soils. Drought tolerant plants and lawns (like TifTuf Bermuda) reduce watering needs too.
I know I can’t be the only one who added a dog to the family during COVID. Her name is Miss Piggy and, in the southern vernacular, she is a hot mess! So much energy! Whatever the size of your menagerie, a more pet-friendly landscape is a priority for many of us.
Miss Piggy joined my family during the pandemic. She enjoys spending time with me in the garden.
I fenced in a large section of the yard, and planted a tougher, more resilient lawn. If you have at least 5 hours of direct sun per day, I strongly recommend TifTuf Bermuda. It is drought-tolerant and stands up to pet traffic better than any other turfgrass. Fencing keeps the pets safe from the road, the delivery people safe from over-friendly dogs, and protects the less pet-friendly spaces. In other words, the dogs (who love to dig) have a fenced-in area away from my vegetable and flower gardens.
Front Yard Gathering Spaces
In 2022 you will continue to see a trend toward more inviting and social front yard spaces where neighbors can visit at a safe social distance. The front porch can be a cozy, beautifully decorated, and inviting space. We are seeing more pergolas and covered seating areas in the front yard instead of the back yard. Maybe take down that front hedge and use a flowing river of lawn to direct friends into your outdoor space to visit.
Front yard seating areas don’t have to be fancy but we can improve on the driveway gatherings of last summer. Just add a bench or couple chairs in the front garden, so neighbors walking by can stop for a chat. We are all tired of social isolation. The welcoming front yard offers a safe space to reconnect with old friends and meet new neighbors.
These trends are exciting because they are more sustainable, more environmentally responsible, and allow more flexible use. The trend away from the formal landscape that is “dressed to impress”, and toward the more relaxed, multi-use, family space is refreshing. And hey, my casual landscape is now trending!