Experiential and Eco-Friendly: The Top Five Landscape Trends of 2018

The National Association of Landscape Professionals announced its official list of the top landscape trends of 2018.

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The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recently announced its official list of the top landscape trends of 2018. As the voice of the multibillion-dollar lawn and landscape industry, the NALP annually forecasts trends that will impact landscape planning, design and maintenance within 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,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP. “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.”

In 2018, NALP predicts the following five trends to influence landscape planning and design:

1. Experiential Landscape Design

Today’s landscapes are thoughtfully and creatively built for living, working and playing, and bring together form and function for a quality outdoor experience. More 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 employees’ experiences. For both residential and commercial landscapes, the experience often begins at the entrance, with plantings, design elements and beautiful lawns that make a welcoming or wowing first impression.

2. Climate-Cognizant Landscaping

Unpredictable weather patterns call for landscape enhancements that withstand extreme conditions, and allow spaces to be enjoyed on unseasonably cool or warm days. More landscapes are planned with the unexpected in mind, such as pergolas with retractable canopies that can protect outdoor areas in the wind, rain and snow; outdoor heaters for patios on chillier nights; and hardier hardscape materials that can handle drastic temperature fluctuations.

3. An Emphasis on Water Management and Conservation

A buzzword for years, sustainability in landscaping is more than a trend; it influences how landscapes are created and maintained now and in the years to come. In particular, the integration of eco-friendly watering practices are expected to continue to take off in 2018, including the use of plants native to a region (which generally use less water), xeriscaping (planning a landscape to use low-water-use plants) and smarter irrigation technology.

4. 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 or no emissions, and are battery-powered and quieter. Many lawn and garden tools are also designed to stack or fold to fit in the garage or shed. Professionals are also integrating more technology—mobile apps, 3D modeling and drones—into landscape planning.

5. Plants in Playful Colors and Patterns

While the simple elegance of greenery was all the rage last year, 2018 will see a renewed interest in adding pops of color and whimsy to landscapes. With ultra-violet named the color of the year by Pantone, a leading provider of color systems, and an influencer on interior and exterior design, landscape professionals expect to integrate more violets, verbena, clematis, iris and other purple flowers into landscapes. Patterned plants are also getting their time in the garden spotlight, as these unique plants are revered for their intricate details, such as striped leaves or brightly colored veins.

The voice of the landscape industry, the NALP develops its trends reports based on a survey of its members and by drawing from the expertise of landscape professionals who are at the forefront of outdoor trends representing various regions of the U.S. The landscape trends are also influenced by broader lifestyle and design trends.

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