As we move a few steps closer to spring, our gardens start to come to life again and we start to think about spending more time in them. With this in mind, many of you may be in the planning stage of designing your garden and thinking about how to make changes and enhancements so you can enjoy it throughout the summer.
Just like fashion, food and interiors, the world of gardening sees trends come and go. Although at GreenArt we are not a trend-focussed company, we do spend a lot of time listening to our clients and often attend events throughout the year so we soon see what is in and what is out. Over the last few months we have started to work with a number of different materials and styles that are proving increasingly popular. Here’s a few that we think we’re going to see more of this year and perhaps a little longer.
Porcelain paving is becoming a popular alternative to Yorkstone or Limestone in many contemporary gardens as, along with its sleek looks, it has a low porosity and is moisture resistant which keeps them safe from stains and water damage. As a designer, they are a versatile product to work with as there is an extensive range of colours and sizes available. The appeal for home-owners is that they are easy to clean and look after as well as being really durable; so not only will they withstand knocks and bumps from kid’s toys, even red-wine spilt at the family barbeque will just wipe off. The product also appeals to interior and kitchen designers wanting to extend the inside of the home to the outdoors out with their highly polished and uniform finish.
If you are thinking about adding a garden deck for entertaining or enjoying your garden from, but worried about how practical it is when wet, or whether it will last more than a few winters, then composite decking could be for you. This really is a product for life as it doesn’t splinter, rot, or warp so once it is down you can rely on it for many years to come. And with many different colours and finishes available, it can be incorporated into a wide range of garden styles – both contemporary and traditional. Best of all, it has a slip-resistant surface so even in the wet it is safe to walk over. Although I usually advocate natural products, I am a fan of composite decking as it uses an environmentally-friendly combination of reclaimed wood and polymer resins – and our clients have been very pleased with it too as it requires minimal maintenance.
Another trend that we are seeing (perhaps because it features in many of the gardens we design) is the use of containers to create additional interest and focal points in a garden. In a recent Oxford Times gardening column, I wrote about how we create eye-catching displays by applying the same basic garden design principles of colour, shape, texture, harmony to pots and containers.
There is an enormous variety of containers available to suit any size, style and design of garden using both natural and man-made materials. Stone or wooden pots can create a softer look compared with the sleek lines of stainless steel, while glass reinforced plastic is now available in just about any style. Many terracotta pots are now frost-resistant, so there is no end to the options available.
As even the smallest garden can use containers to create impact and interest, their appeal is wide-ranging and ideal if you are renting a property as you can quite literally take them all with you when you move.
Veneer walling is a relatively new product that is increasing in popularity. It looks like thin, dry-stacked walling stone yet it is actually a panel-based system made up of dozens of narrow strips of stone, such as slate. It’s a great way to give a fresh new look to an existing rendered wall, for example, or to incorporate within a water feature. Whether you are creating or updating a wall, seating area or water feature, using veneer walling gives a fabulous finish in a choice of colours.
While some trends like artificial grass or vertical gardening may come and go, what seems to be on the increase is the value that we are all putting on our gardens as an important space to enjoy with our family, friends and the local wildlife.