From sustainable materials to dopamine planting, these are the biggest garden trends to shape outdoor spaces for the year ahead
Now is the ideal time to seek inspiration from the latest garden trends 2023 to start planting and landscaping your outdoor space to be summer ready.
While every garden is different there are key garden trends each year that can help to reshape how we curate an outdoor haven for entertaining and relaxing.
In recent years there's been a common thread running through all trends to cater to a well-being and sustainable living perspective too. This has had an influence on both 2023's interior design trends and garden trends for 2023 and will continue to shape how we value our outdoor spaces for years to come.
From uplifting color schemes and Mediterranean-style planting to cultivating outdoor living areas, this year's garden trends offer all manner of great ideas to update any outdoor space.
We've spoken to leading landscape gardeners, members of the Society of Garden Designers, and planting experts to gain insight into the most coveted gardening trends to update plots ahead of summer...
GARDEN TRENDS 2023: 22 OF THE BIGGEST INFLUENCES
Whether you're starting from scratch or updating an intimate balcony, perking up a patio ready for entertaining, or sprucing up a sprawling lawn, these newest trends are here to help inspire your gardening journey in 2023.
1. ENVIRONMENTALLY HEALTHY SPACES
Designing gardens to benefit the wider ecosystem is a trend that continues to grow more important, as we become more and more aware of the impact we have on the environment.
"Sustainable and eco-friendly gardens are nothing new, but as we begin to gain a better understanding of what this actually means, we will start seeing the creation of gardens that are “environmentally friendly to the core and not just as a style trend,” says Tomoko Kawauchi MSGD, a garden designer at Charlotte Rowe.
“We need to enter the next phase of the movement,” she says, by creating ‘environmentally healthy gardens.’ This means less emphasis on the naturalist ‘rewilded’ approach seen at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and a return to a more structured design style that relies on the “interplay between man-managed forms and nature”, believes Tommaso del Buono MSGD.
Helen Elks-Smith FSGD agrees, explaining: “Wildlife and insects don’t need gardens and landscapes to have a particular design aesthetic, they don’t care whether a garden looks ‘wild’ or whether it looks ‘formal’, what matters is habitat, food sources, and shelter," Helen explains.
"Creating a wild garden or trying to recreate a native environment is just one approach; there are others and it’s important that different approaches and design aesthetics are encouraged and allowed.”
2. PLANTING A CANVAS OF UPLIFTING COLOR
We're seeing the biggest interior paint color trends for 2023 bursting with bright feel-good colors so it's no surprise that principle is being continued to outdoor spaces too. It's the year for bright, enlivening, and uplifting colors – across planting, furniture choices, and even exterior paints too.
Pick shades that complement one another and group complementary colors together: reds, yellows, oranges, whites and blues, and purples and pinks. Think rainbow brights for borders and bedding plants to create a canvas of color to accentuate the luscious greenery of surrounding evergreen shrubs and grass.
"Pantone’s color of the year is the bold Viva Magenta which will certainly be used in garden designs this year," says Chris Bonnett, the founder of Gardening Express. "It’s a natural shade from the red family and it’s perfect for making a statement. This year it’s expected to be seen on plant pots, outdoor accessories, and flower beds."
Experimenting with color is one of the most exciting things about designing a garden for many gardeners. Professional gardener Fi Boyle is a big fan of grouping vibrant jewel colors together.
Fi says: "I love to combine strong magenta reds like Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ with moody purples, deep blues, and limes. Adding in plants that have colored stems and leaves such as Salvia ‘Caradonna’ with the dark purple stem or Sedum ‘Karfunelstein and Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ for a stunning effect."
To embrace the vibrancy without overpowering the whole plot, consider keeping the color to dedicated areas. Outdoor pots are always a great way to add accents of color around any outdoor space, to elevate a color scheme with minimal effort.
3. RESILIENT AND HARDY PLANT CHOICES
As demonstrated in recent years, hot summers, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and lack of water are becoming all too familiar, and with that comes a trend towards tougher, more resilient planting.
For garden designer Matthew Childs, plants that provide year-round color and interest and which create some joy in the garden will still be central to his designs, but he will also be looking for resilient plants, such as long-flowering Salvias, that are great for pollinating insects and wildlife.
“It may not sound very exciting but we’re also going to be thinking much more about how we dress the surface of planting areas to help keep moisture in and competing weeds out so that our planting schemes are more resilient to the changing climate," Matthew says. He will be using recycled building materials such as crushed concrete, as well as fruit pits and nut shells to form natural mulches and path surfaces.
Landscape architect Marian Boswall, MSGD hopes to see more trees, especially in city gardens "where", she says "they can help clean the air and reduce the urban heat island effect". Marian recommends the drought-tolerant crab apple tree as a perfect addition to any garden. "Its blossom feeds insects in the spring, and in the depths of winter, when the ground is covered in snow and there is little to eat, its tiny apples provide nourishment for birds."
Tomoko also predicts a trend towards more gravel gardens, as well as more drought-tolerant and gravel planting in general, such as the South African Dieramas. Tommaso expects Rock Roses will come back into fashion because of their ability to thrive in hot, dry conditions - low-maintenance, fast-growing, and with a profusion of flowers, they will grow over walls, paths, rockeries, and in mixed borders.
4. NATURAL SWIMMING PONDS
Natural swimming ponds were the huge emerging garden trend of 2022 that remains big for this year and beyond. We're not talking about the familiar amazing swimming pools associated with five-star hotels, the pools and ponds of today are natural and understated, where the vibe is an inclusive one – humans and wildlife alike.
Matthew Childs believes that throughout the course of this year, we will see a trend for gardens to be joyful, fun spaces where people, plants, and wildlife can be mutually beneficial to each other. A key example of this, he says, is the growth of chemical-free, natural swimming ponds. “Fun for people and great watery habitats for wildlife," Matthew exclaims.
Helen Elks-Smith agrees and says she is continuing to see considerably more interest in natural swimming pools, while Jamie Innes MSGD is expecting to see more water features and ponds “for the amazing extra wildlife they bring to a garden and for endless hours of fascination staring into the microcosmos.”
While the ponds are natural this trend is a continuation of last year's trend when clients wanted to incorporate luxuries that you might ordinarily go away to enjoy, in their own backyards instead: "Pools, particularly natural swimming ponds, are definitely one of these luxuries," Fi explains.
Ana Sanchez-Martin MSGD is also seeing a growing trend for what she calls the ‘boutique hotel syndrome’: "We are finding that more of our clients are asking for elements they would usually enjoy on holidays," says Ana.
5. MEDITERRANEAN-INSPIRED GARDENS
As with how the outdated interior design trend of farmhouse escape is being replaced with Mediterranean-style influence our gardens are set to follow suit. It could be the change in climates or merely the drought-resistant qualities but Mediterranean gardens are hugely influential over gardens for 2023.
This Mediterranean sunset-inspired theme brings together ornamental grasses, citrus plants, and succulents complemented by natural terracotta pots. "Recreate your own earthy look with succulents and citrus plants, arranged together in textured pots for an ultra rustic feel," suggests Dobbies’ horticultural director, Marcus Eyles.
Grasses in borders and pots dotted around the garden are a brilliant way to add texture and layers to planting and you can usually find these types of grasses alongside the usual shrubs and bulbs when shopping for plants online.
"Grasses are always popular and none more so than this year," explains professional gardener Rachel Morgan, @Terra_Legra. "People are realizing what good value plants grasses are - they add instant impact, provide height and movement, can easily and affordably be repeated throughout borders to give an effortlessly beautiful effect. My favorites are Stipa Pony Tails and Panicum Virgatum Heavy Metal."
This garden trend also lends itself well to the sustainable planting movement, a trend that Marcus predicts will continue to rise in popularity this year as more people become aware of their carbon footprint and set out to find eco-friendly ways to enjoy their outdoor space.
Marcus suggests: "reusing containers where possible and investing in good-quality pots in weatherproof materials like terracotta, that will last for years, as this is an easy way to create less waste in the garden."
6. SCENT DRIVEN SCHEMES
Fragrant plants and flowers are a key point of focus for planting in 2023. Taking the principles of how to make your house smell good, this year our gardens are awash with fragrance to delight the senses.
“Scented plants are a must, either in containers or the herbaceous beds," says garden expert, Angela Slater, from Hayes Garden World. "One of the best climbers is Trachelospermum jasminoides with dainty starry white flowers. If you have ever holidayed in the Mediterranean, then you will be familiar with its gorgeous heady perfume.”
“There are plenty of scented climbers if you want a bit of color: scented honeysuckle, roses, and clematis ‘Sweet Sensation’," Angela suggests. "If you are growing climbers in containers, remember to use one proportionate in size to the plant, at least 18ins deep and 18ins across at the top."
"Place a piece of crock over the hole to ensure it doesn’t clog with silt and fill it with good-quality peat-free compost. Raise the pot off the ground with pot feet or 3 bricks, which will allow the water to drain clean away.”
7. CREATING AN OUTDOOR LIVING ROOM
Blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living is most definitely one of the biggest garden trends happening right now, where homeowners are looking to expand their lifestyles to incorporate outdoor space. With that outdoor living room ideas are going from strength to strength as our desire to spend as much time as possible outside continues to remain at the core function of any exterior space.
Outdoor living is no longer seen as a well-being trend, instead, it's becoming a new way of life for many. So, in the spirit of living outdoors, the trend for mirroring our interior decor choices outside perfectly sets the scene for entertaining and spending downtime in style. Think of it as picking up your living room furniture and quite literally placing it outside, from comfy corner sofas to recline in the sun to practical coffee tables for setting down refreshments and outdoor rugs for dressing floors.
Sabina Miller, buying director at Heal’s comments: “Outdoor spaces, both large and small, are increasingly being used as an extension to the home, and we’re continuing to see customers make the most of this extra space and enjoy the proven benefits of spending more time outside."
“Whether used to relax, work or entertain, the key to creating a functioning alfresco space is ensuring you have suitable outdoor furniture that will offer the same comfort and durability that you would expect from indoor designs" advises Sabrina.
"Cushioned seating provides a sumptuous spot to relax in the summer sunshine, whilst a robust woven backrest will offer plenty of ergonomic support. Look for weather-resistant materials, such as powder-coated aluminum, teak wood, and natural ceramic, which carry durable qualities to ensure your pieces are protected from the ever-changing, often unpredictable climate.No matter how much space you have available, it’s worth investing in a robust outdoor table" she adds.
8. GROW YOUR OWN
The grow-your-own movement was one of the biggest garden trends in 2022 and it shows no signs of fading for the year ahead – in fact, it's only becoming more important in current times.
“With financial considerations at the forefront of a lot of families’ minds, many are embracing the ‘grow your own’ movement," explains Angela. "This drive to introduce some homegrown veg into the diet began a couple of years ago and has grown steadily to include many families who have never previously grown vegetables."
The key to growing your own produce is finding the right area in your garden to cultivate delicious, edible goods. The misconception is that this requires masses of space, you don't, but you do need a level area with a good amount of sunlight exposure to build growing beds. Thankfully vegetable gardening for beginners is easy with a little guidance.
“It is easy enough to start to grow vegetables. All you need is a packet of seeds; some seed compost; a small plastic container, such as a yogurt pot or fruit punnet, and a warm sunny windowsill," says Angela. "Start with some cress or micro herbs which can be grown for consumption indoors. The second step is to sow seed outdoors. Even if you don’t have a conventional garden, there are masses of vegetables you can grow in containers.”
“Other small veg, suitable for growing in containers, are the small ball carrots, dwarf French beans, dwarf broad beans, tomatoes (which are specifically for growing outdoors), courgettes, salad leaves, spring onions, and herbs.”
Marshalls Garden's managing director, Mark Sage tells us how he believes "flowers, fruit, and vegetables can sit happily side-by-side, resulting in an abundance of sustainable and beautiful produce that cuts supermarket bills and reduces food miles to footsteps.”
9. IMPERFECT LANDSCAPING
Joy to the ears of those less green-fingered outdoor fans, who enjoy the garden itself as opposed to the hobby of gardening and the maintenance that comes with it. "The future aesthetic of garden design will be a more relaxed one," says Andrew Duff MSGD, vice chair of the Society of Garden Designers.
"We will become more accepting of the imperfections in our world which make it even more beautiful. The romantic and overgrown look which I enjoy creating will give you the time to actually sit back and enjoy your garden whilst establishing a robust and adaptable space flourishing in the unpredictable weather.
In agreement with the imperfect landscaping trend is garden designer Ann-Marie Powell MSGD who predicts ’nature-scaping’ and ‘curated wildling’ are set to be the biggest buzzwords in the world of gardening right now. "I’d say the trend for this year is the immersive, natural, wildlife garden."
Ann-Marie shares how her studio is receiving increasing inquiries from clients wanting their finished gardens to look effortlessly pulled together. "People want gardens that look like they are ‘of nature’ rather than the more obviously designed spaces." So planting is loose, with long grasses taking center stage, and hard landscaping and garden paths are rustic and less structured.
10. CULTIVATING LOW MAINTENANCE LAWNS
In a bid to encourage homeowners to stay loyal to natural turf, rather than be lured to the appeal of no-mow artificial grass options which have become popular, the greats in the world of gardening are championing low-maintenance lawns. Monty Don has been an advocate of this laidback approach for some time, where he encourages fellow gardeners to let the lawn grow a little longer.
Keen to introduce a ‘tapestry lawn’, as an alternative to the normal grass lawn’ is garden designer Ana Sanchez-Martin MSGD, who explains that they are created using a combination of many different mowing-tolerant plant species. "Like meadow lawns, they are low in maintenance and of higher ornamental and environmental value."
"The need to mow a tapestry lawn can be reduced by up to two-thirds compared to a regular grass lawn and, as a consequence, a greater number of both plant and insect species are able to inhabit the lawn. In small urban gardens, meadow lawns are not usually very practical, but a tapestry lawn could be a great solution for city gardens."
11. DIVIDING AND ZONING
An ideal way to make more of any garden is to dedicate allotted zones to each outdoor activity, whether that be with thoughtfully structured planting or decorative garden screening. The use of zoning is a great way to make a small garden look bigger because it creates a sense of greater purpose for each and every corner of the plot.
“Secluded areas are a must this year,' states Angela. "We all need somewhere to chill out and leave the everyday stresses behind. Single cocoons or covered daybeds are ideal for this - just place them in a quiet corner.”
Separate a chill-out sanctuary from a busy decked area dedicated to entertaining, or a play area, to ensure each area has its own space within the same plot. By breaking the flow with decorative screening you are signaling a different use for each space, without enclosing any valuable ground coverage to make the garden feel smaller.
12. SHIFTING FOCUS TO THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE
Front gardens are often overlooked when it comes to the consideration of gardening tasks, but this year is set to see that change as homeowners look to make a good first impression from their front yards. Plus sprucing up the front lawn is an easy way to make your house look expensive from the outside.
"I'm getting a lot of interest from people selling houses, wanting a quick gardening fix so the garden, particularly around the front door, looks good for the photos" explains Rachel Morgan garden stylist from Terra Legra. "Pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets do the trick here, but for baskets, I like to use longer-lasting plants such as hebes, trailing ivy, and small ferns for something a bit different from the usual brightly colored styles."
Rachel adds, "Doing this 'spruce to sell' service is a hugely satisfying task because it really is an instant garden. Perennials and evergreens in containers mean it looks instantly cheery, and they can take the containers with them when they move."
13. INTRODUCING SPLASHES OF BOLD COLOR
Outdoor paints have come a long way over the years, it's no longer just masonry paints for the front of the house. This year's color trend sees the celebration of paints being more expressive for garden spaces – with inspirational feature walls doing the job of wallpapers, painted patterned floors in place of the indoor decorative tiles and boldly hued fence panels becoming the outdoor equivalent of wood-paneling.
"No longer is garden paint just being used on the fence and summerhouse, all your outdoor spaces can enjoy creative color using exterior paint," says Becky Rackstraw at Protek. "Walls, masonry, and metal as well as wood can be painted in the latest colors from the same pot to create a stunning and uplifting scheme."
14. OUTDOOR KITCHENS
It's not just living rooms that are migrating outside, it's kitchens too. It seems that we can't get enough of entertaining friends in the garden and traipsing back through the house to cook and prep food just isn't the most practical of set-ups.
A big kitchen trend for 2023, outdoor kitchen ideas create a more immersive experience for all, with guests present while the food is being prepared which means no chef is left out of the talk around the table.
Catering for all budgets, this garden trend can be adapted to please any garden. If you're looking for a cheaper option a simple freestanding island unit on wheels can be placed next to the BBQ or pizza oven to act as a preparation for the chef and create a kitchen area, without the need for installing electricity and plumbing for a full outdoor kitchen experience.
15. SUSTAINABLE CHOICES
Like all industries in 2023, gardens and those who cultivate them are looking for ways to make their business more sustainable and support the ecosystem.
“I think gardens in the future will be a bit more rustic, more practical, but really focused on immersing people into their little bit of micro-nature," says Mark Laurence MSGD. "I hope gardens become less pretentious, and an eco-status symbol if we really need such things.”
“I feel there is a big movement towards good environmental schemes, supporting wildlife and reducing our carbon footprint,” says Jilayne Rickards MSGD. She says the move has been driven by a greater awareness of the terrible climate situation mankind has created.
Garden designer Ben Chandler MSGD believes the combination of increased awareness of the carbon footprint and rising costs of importing goods will lead to an emphasis on locally sourced materials, plants, and products: “I hope that means more support for smaller specialist plant nurseries and brings opportunities to local makers and craftspeople when it comes to sourcing furniture and accessories for the garden,” he says.
16. VERTICAL GARDENS
Vertical planting aka 'living walls' is one of the hottest gardening trends to emerge in recent years, and it seems the only way is up from here (quite literally). Originally only seen at high-design showrooms and retail spaces the trend has crept into residential gardens.
A wall of greenery welcomes a unique touch to your space, and best of all this planting style suits any outdoor plot. From small courtyards to sprawling backyards, living walls will make the most of your space. Whether used for covering up plain exterior walls or to make the best use of a limited balcony garden, vertical planting is a winning way to elevate any tricky gardening space.
Vertical planting systems can range from something as simple as plant pots hung on vertical frames attached to an exterior wall, to highly sophisticated modular, hydroponic panels from which water and nutrients are delivered and electronically monitored. All solutions are ideal for small garden ideas to make more of the limited space.
What you choose will very much depend on the look you wish to achieve and of course your budget. This trend is highly adaptable to suit the space it's catering for. You could even go artificial if you really want an easy life, the choice is totally up to you – the only rule for this trend is to plant upwards to utilize garden walls.
17. SOWING WILDFLOWERS
In harmony with the garden trends for wilder landscapes and the plight of aiding the bees, meadow flowers are proving hugely popular. "Wildflowers are high on gardeners’ priority lists," says Marcus. "The best time to sow annual wildflower seeds is March to May, to flower this year, or perennial varieties in September to October for flowering the following year. Scatter packs can be sown directly from the box to your garden soil as an easy solution."
“Anyone can plant wildflowers, even if you don’t have a garden space as they can thrive in window boxes or plant pots on balconies. The more wildflowers you plant the better it will be for your local wildlife, so planting across your whole lawn will give the greatest benefit. Wildflowers are hugely attractive for bees and other pollinators alike and do remember to plant in an open sunny position for greatest success.”
18. COTTAGE GARDENS
Cottage garden ideas are proving hugely popular for 2023, where creating a charming landscape that fits in seamlessly with the wild garden aesthetic is the overall desire.
To create a cottage garden thoughtful planting is key, filling borders and beds with classic country-style blooms, with pops of soft colors and familar foliage to instantly evoke the feeling of escaping to a scenic rural setting.
In addition to championing some of the best cottage garden plants, from iconic roses and elegant wisteria to scented lilacs, the trend also celebrates the use of picket fences, trellis frames, and quaint window boxes all associated with the rustic charm of cottage gardens.
19. FOCAL FIRE PITS
Perhaps it's the unpredictable weather that creates a need for extra heat or the sense of escapism sitting around a 'campfire' in the comfort of your own home, whatever the inspiration fire pits are trending in a big way.
From captivating iron cutout designs to more cavernous bowl-style pits there's a style of fire pit to suit all garden landscapes. In addition to welcoming the element of warmth firepits are also ideal for adding a touch of ambiance to any outdoor space thanks to the flickering flames.
For maximum benefits look to position a fire pit within a seating area to play a central role, a definitive focal point to gather around after the sun goes down.
20. URBAN GARDENING
Urban gardening is a growing trend, as homeowners look to nurture each and every outside space available. In recent years we've become much more aware of the value of being in an outside space, to provide an outlet of escapism from the confines of our indoor spaces.
Living in a city no longer limits the opportunities to become a green-fingered enthusiast because any outdoor space can be utilized for urban gardening. From apartment balconies to roof terraces, any plot becomes a valuable space for creating a social space with a small bistro set surrounded by a potted garden or even a valid space for maintaining a small crop of vegetables.
21. WELLNESS YARDS
The term 'Wellness gardens' is up 51% year-on-year in Google searches as many look to create calming spaces in their own backyards.
While there are many elements that can conjure up the sense of relaxation a main focus has to be paid to the inclusion of luxury tubs. From cold plunge pools being popular thanks to the focus on the benefits of wild swimming and cold water exposure to the desire for heated jacuzzi hot tubs and saunas the home spas in the backyard.
In addition to introducing leisure pools, this trend also embraces spa-like furniture choices where reclining is a key function. Cushioned sun loungers and woven recliners can help to add a luxury spa vibe while providing a place to sit and relax for some much-needed downtime in between dips.
22. WELCOMING WILDLIFE
Welcoming wildlife into our green spaces continues to go from strength to strength, with all creatures great and small welcome. Speaking of this growing trend gardener Rachel Bailey, MSGD, says, "I think our gardens will be much wilder and offer a greater refuge for wildlife and greater connection for people to nature".
Water is the easiest way to encourage wildlife into the garden, from water baths to ponds the draw of water attracts all manner of wildlife. While it's important to cater to wildlife it's also important to ensure their safety.
A top tip for ponds - or any other sources of water deeper than a few centimeters - is to ensure there's a way out should any small animals fall in. For example, with a pond try stacking rocks or bricks inside the pool at the edge, this will create a staircase of sorts for the wildlife to escape if need be.