As we enter the new year, The National Association of Landscape professionals (NALP) has announced its official list of the top landscape trends for 2018. As the front-running voice of the landscape industry, NALP annually forecasts trends that will impact landscape planning, design and maintenance in the coming year.
“The top 2018 landscape trends reflect an evolution of the outdoor living trend we’ve seen grow in popularity over the past few years,” reports NALP public affairs vice president Missy Henriksen. “Stimulated by a healthy economy, homeowners and property managers are innovating their landscapes in fun, new ways. Recognizing the tremendous value that beautiful and functional landscapes bring to homes and commercial properties, today’s landscapes are built to last so they can be used and enjoyed through all the seasons, year after year.”
The NALP predicts the following five trends to influence landscape planning and design in 2018:
Experiential landscape design. Today’s landscapes are thoughtfully and creatively built for living, working and playing, and seamlessly merge form and function for quality outdoor experiences. Residential landscapes feature designated areas for cooking, dining, relaxing and even working outdoors, armed with fully integrated outdoor lighting and audio/visual systems for a multisensory and multiuse experience, day or night. Office landscapes more frequently include walking and bicycle paths, dining areas or gardens to enhance the employees’ experience. Residential and commercial landscapes tend to share similarity in that the experience usually begins at the entrance, the procession of beautiful lawns, plantings and design elements serving to provide the first impression of the total space.
Climate-cognizant landscaping. As weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable, the development and inclusion of landscape enhancements able to withstand extreme conditions and allow spaces to be enjoyed on unseasonably cool or warm days becomes ever more warranted. More landscapes are planned to adapt to the unexpected, such as pergolas with retractable canopies that can protect outdoor areas in wind, rain and snow, outdoor heaters for patios on chillier nights, and hardscape materials that can better handle drastic fluctuations in temperature.
Emphasis on water management and conservation. In recent years, sustainability in landscaping has risen in prominence until it is no longer a mere passing trend but a pivotal factor in landscape design and maintenance now and in the years to come. As such, we can expect to see an influx of eco-friendly watering practices being employed. This will include the use of plants native to a region, as they tend to require less water, as well as xeriscaping (planning a landscape to use low-water use plants), and the incorporation of more efficient irrigation technology.
Enhanced equipment and technology. The latest yard tools on the market consider ease of use and storage while incorporating more eco-friendly innovations. Many lawn mowers, leaf blowers and similar equipment feature low to no emissions, are battery-powered, and are far quieter than those of years gone by. Many lawn and garden tools feature a collapsible design, able to stack or fold to take up less space in the garage or shed. Professionals are also integrating more technology — mobile apps, 3D modeling software and drones — into landscape planning.
Plants in playful colors and patterns. 2018 brings with it a shift away from the simple elegance of greenery that marked the theme of last year in favor of vibrant pops of personality and color, purple in particular. With leading provider of color systems Pantone having designated ultra violet as the Color of the Year, landscape professionals expect to integrate more violets, verbena, clematis, iris and other purple flowers into landscape designs. There also appears to be an enhanced focus on “patterned” plants, given their popularity, owed to their intricate details, such as striped leaves or brightly colored veins.