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Top Gardening and Outdoor Space Trends for 2021

Many people embraced the joy of gardening and landscaping in 2020, some for the first time. Whether it was a few small vegetable or flower plants or a complete overhaul that included seating areas and increased lighting, a popular way to adapt to staying home more was making home someplace more pleasant to be. If you're looking to take your yard and garden to the next level this year, these lawn and garden experts have great insight in their predictions for the top trends for 2021. Discover new and exciting ways to enhance your outdoor living space and gardening areas.

Add a Backyard Pond

There's been a huge rise in the number of backyard ponds, according to Tory Jon, Pond Academy. In addition to the relaxing sound of running water, they offer an aesthetic value that's hard to beat, and even educational opportunities for children as they attract all sorts of interesting wildlife. Says Jon, "Like a pool, ponds can be used to swim and offer a place for friends and family to relax. Yet unlike a pool, they are more cost-effective and easy to install. A pond can be integrated into any backyard landscape. The design options and features for a pond are only limited by your imagination and budget, so it's easy to build a water feature that will impress."

Get Creative with Food Gardening

Ethan Ellingson, DYNASYSTECH, sees many food gardeners are substituting heirloom and creative new varieties for more traditional plant choices. "The options are endless: purple cauliflower, heirloom tomatoes, mini watermelons, blue kale, pattypan squash, purple bell peppers, and towering basil. These plants' diversity not only looks amazing, but it can also help with pest control and eating a more balanced and healthy diet," according to Ellingson.

Integrate Smart Gardening Tech

We've come a long way in recent years, says Megan Ayala,, and technology is no longer constrained to our phones, computers, and virtual assistants at home. She says, "Now that these are making their way outside, we're starting to see smart technologies being integrated into the landscaping. More people are starting to install subsurface irrigation with smart controllers in order to do flow sensing, especially in drought-prone areas. This controls the flow of water so that a maximum flow can be set for a particular garden zone."

There are environmental benefits, too. "This eliminates the hassle of constant watering and is a more environmentally friendly way to keep your plants hydrated," says Ayala. "You can also get a smart irrigation system that monitors plant water use, evaporation, soil conditions, and whether you want to splurge. There are several smart sprinkler systems available for those on a budget that offer various configurations, ease of use, and built-in timers. Remember that more effective watering results in a lower water bill. We're also seeing a lot of lighting sensors and wireless access to sensors and outdoor speakers for non-watering needs."

Embrace the Return of the Modern Victory Garden

Yvonne Chavez,, predicts the increased interest in growing vegetables and other edible plants will continue. "In the midst of the pandemic, new gardeners are turning to social media for answers to all of their edible plant questions, with Garden Media documenting a 400 percent increase in edible-garden social media influencers. The word victory garden received the most Google searches of all time in April 2020. A victory garden is a vegetable garden planted after a war to increase food production. They are no longer needed for times of war, but rather for homeowners who want to enjoy their own produce," she says.

Rethink Your Outdoor Spaces

Joe Flanagan, 90s Fashion World, says, "This staying at home for the long run will continue to impact on how we live in our houses, particularly so in regards to outdoor spaces that allow you to enjoy nature but provide the comforts of indoors. Suddenly, your garden is not only for looking pretty but a source of organic and healthy produce!"

Adopt Environmentally Beneficial Gardening Techniques

Bryan McKenzie, BumperCrop Times, says the times when we created gardens only for admiration have gone: "There is a variety of garden plants that can benefit the local wildlife and the new trend is to grow these beneficial plants to prevent the wildlife from leaving the area." According to the recent Garden for Wildlife research, over 60 million Americans purchased those plants that would support beneficial insects, birds, and butterflies, he adds.

Expand on it with cottage core gardening, too. "The benefits of cottage garden style let you unleash your creativity and mix elements in an endless variety of combinations. Besides, there’s a lower need for pruning and weeding as you have to let the plants grow naturally and fill the space the way they want," according to McKenzie. "You can even plant wildflowers and insert patches of edible plants. Use clay pottery of different colors, braided baskets, raw wood, rusty metal parts, furniture of pastel blue and pink, follow your passion, and see the magic of this natural style!"

Add More Native Plants to Your Garden

People are going beyond just choosing plants that look good, to choosing plants based on the ecological benefits that they offer. Haeley Giambalvo, Native Backyards, says, "By incorporating more native plants, gardeners are bringing their yards to life with pollinators and songbirds, while helping rebuild ecosystems lost to suburban development.” She also says, “In addition to being better for the environment, native plants tend to require less maintenance and watering as the plants are adapted to the local climate. Landscaping with natives is a win-win for homeowners and the local wildlife!”

Improve the Functionality of Outdoor Living Spaces

Bill Samuel, Blue Ladder Development, says, "Contractors that specialize in outdoor living space construction are busier than they have ever been since Covid started because people want to entertain small parties but find it safest at this point to do it outside. It was certainly a growing trend before the pandemic started but has grown at a much faster rate over the past year. Buyers want to have a fully designed and functional outdoor living space nowadays where they can entertain with an outdoor television, kitchen, and fire feature for example. It is becoming expected of buyers to have a full outdoor living space for homes in the luxury market."

Grow a Holistic View of Gardening

Danielle Killian, Principal Consultant, Killian Communications, recognizes that many people have a new understanding of the value of usable outdoor living spaces on a whole new level, with an elevated interest in native plants that attract birds and butterflies, organic edible gardens, active entertaining areas, multiple seating areas where there is space, and trails that provide an incentive to wander. She says, "We see an acceleration of people removing boring expanses of lawn that require noisy, repetitive work in the garden. We see people gravitating toward features that enhance the way we want to live, engage our communities, and protect our health.”

Adapt a Dual Purpose for Your Outdoor Space

Emilia Wong, HomeRenoGuru, says it’s no surprise that many of us are turning to outdoor living areas as a way for us to spend some time under the sun and breathe in some fresh air. Whether it’s transforming the front porch or the backyard, many homeowners have begun expanding their living area beyond the walls of their home, including gazebos, outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchen and dining areas, play areas, and outdoor audio systems.

According to Wong, "Edible gardens, which became a huge trend due to the lockdown, are likely here to stay!" She says that instead of decorating the lawn and backyard with flowers and bushes, many homeowners are turning these areas into colourful edible gardens. These food plants not only make the lawn and backyard look more alive but also offer some great organic harvests!

Spend More Time Socializing Outdoors

Josh Saga, Dweller Power, says, "Fewer people are heading out to public patios and spaces, so they’re in need of a living space at home where they can sit, have a drink, relax, and socialize with others." People are carving out space on their lawn, laying patio stones, buying new outdoor furniture, and creating their own place to spend time.

Make It Photo-Worthy

Nora Mitchell, Household Advice, predicts people will continue to improve on their outdoor living spaces and gardens in part because they make such great backdrops to social media posts. She says, "People want something they can use as a backdrop in their photos and, if they are putting money into something, they want a finished product that is truly photogenic."

No matter your experience level or budget, these expert gardeners and landscapers' predictions for 2021 are within reach, even in small ways. Whether you're expanding your garden or continuing to build out your patio, kitchen or play areas, these ideas give even the most novice gardeners a great path forward that's on-trend and accessible for a 2021 to remember.

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