As we enter a new decade, what’s old is new again in the landscape and gardening world and plants are still the center of attention. Below is a list of the top five trends in landscape for 2020.
1. Double Duty Plants: Selecting a particular plant for its flower color, fragrance, or hardiness is still an important factor when designing a garden, but there’s a new emphasis on selecting plants for multiple seasons of interest. Why not have a plant that has a beautiful flower in spring, strong leaf structure in summer, great fall color, and can feed wildlife in the winter? A multi-purpose plant like, Amsonia ‘Halfway To Arkansas’ (pictured below) has beautiful blue flowers in early summer, delicate green foliage in summer that turns a fiery copper in fall, and provides winter shelter for birds and other wildlife.
2. Plant Communities: The plant community push has been building for the last several years in the landscape industry and will be even more important in 2020. Mother nature has perfected the plant community model since the beginning of time, but landscape designers have only recently looked to her for wisdom. Plants in ‘the wild’ grow tightly bunched together with little, if any space left between and this helps create a healthy community of plants with the ability to fight off intruders. The traditional garden has a lot of space between plants with mulch filling the gaps and responsible for fighting off weeds. In well-designed plant communities there is very little open soil exposed to the sun and weed seeds, making it difficult for unwanted plants to establish. Plants that work well in communities also complement each other in terms of their shape, growing habits, root competition, and water and nutrient needs.
Gravel: Ok, I’ll admit gravel doesn’t sound all that sexy, but hear me out. The push for more sustainably designed landscapes has brought back an overlooked material in the landscape. Gravel is an inexpensive material, often locally sourced, and very durable. There are also a wide variety of colors, sizes, and textures of gravel available. When designed and installed properly, gravel patios and walks offer low cost ways to create elegant spaces that are easily maintained.
Technology in the Garden: Time marches on and so does technological advancement. Most features of the outdoor environment can now be controlled from the palm of your hand. Smart phone operated irrigation, lighting, and audio / visual systems are popular and will continue to improve. Robotic lawnmowers are also being deployed for residential and commercial landscape maintenance. There are also phone apps to track and monitor rainfall and nutrient content of your garden soil.
Native Plants: Designing gardens with native plants has been a popular trend for years now, but it’s a trend that isn’t losing any momentum. Natives have countless benefits to your garden and the environment. Native plants are typically more durable and need less watering and care than other plants. Natives are also a great food source for butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. Some native rock stars for Northern Illinois included; Blue Flag Iris, Prairie Dropseed, Purple Prairie Clover, and Little Bluestem.
Nate Robinson’s background in landscape design and project management allows him to see opportunity in any project. He partners with his clients to create spaces that fit their needs, while also creating stunning visual impact. Nate is an Illinois native and proud graduate of the University of Illinois’ Landscape Architecture program. In his time away from the office, he enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time along the lakefront with his family.