Like plants, not all gardens are evergreen . While some garden features blossom into popularity, others become outdated, nipped in the bud before the next harvest season. Year after year, gardening trends come and go as the wind blows… or at least as landscape designers say so. As we begin to prepare for spring blooms in 2023, we aim for more functional, thoughtful, and beautiful gardens.
Mark Thompson, Co-owner of Birmingham, Alabama’s Shoppe garden boutique, is hopeful for our prospects and confident in our green thumbs this year. “Society as a whole is more savvy, educated, and aware of the finer things that are more thought out,” he says. “Landscapes are better now than they have ever been before.”
These are the trends we’re following in 2023 to sow the seeds for our best gardens yet.
“People are now discovering that gardening with technology can save time and money, lower their carbon footprint, and produce healthier plants,” says Jack Sutcliffe, co-founder of Power Sheds . “Gardening apps can be used to help with design, identifying plants, and placement or irrigation. Smart sprinklers schedule irrigation depending on the weather and can determine breaks and leaks. We are even seeing smart mowers and robotic weeders becoming more common, automating tasks you might not always have time for.”
The pros know that gardening is no easy task , so it’s no wonder that people are taking advantage of technology to farm smarter, not harder. “Google it,” is Thompson’s best advice for any questioning landscaper.
East Coast Fencing
The American-dream style white picket fences are all the rage these days. Fencing , reminiscent of preppy Hamptons yards, are surely making their way down South, Peter Falkner of Falkner Gardens tells Southern Living . These fences, he says, go the distance in adding clean lines to a garden landscape.
“We’re seeing a lot of beautiful fencing gates, in Virginia and South Carolina in particular,” says Falkner. “They have been requested over and over from us.”
Long-Term Mental Health
Over the last few years, so many Southerners have taken up gardening to beat the home-bound blues. Since then, studies have shown that gardening is a bonafide tactic for stress-relief. For the sake of our emotional wellbeing the heartening hobby is here to stay in 2023.
“When I go outside and just start pulling weeds, I automatically feel better within a few minutes,” Thompson shares. “You feel productive, you’re out in the sunshine, and you have free space to think because what you're doing is sort of mindless. You're just pulling weeds and thinking about your family, your vacation, or whatever is on your mind."
Rather than intricate garden designs and a ‘bigger is better’ mentality, Thompson suggests that in 2023, gardeners are finding that less is more. Simplicity, he says, is stylish and sophisticated , especially when fitted to suit the home that the garden is built around. Not to mention, the simpler the landscape, the easier it is to maintain.
“Thoughtfully planned, simple spaces that are maintainable and fit the architecture of the house are what I see people doing more of,” Thompson shares. “It’s not just planting to plant. It’s much more straightforward with longevity.”
"It's all clean lines and simplicity," agrees Falkner.
Part of that simplicity, Thompson says, is the arrangement in which gardeners are organizing their crops this year: in clean rows rather than intricate formations.
“People are planting simple rows of things instead of mixing up lots of different patterns and trios,” he says. “I see people doing a row of this and a row of that or layering rows of plants depending on what their space calls for. Before, people were doing more scattered patterns.”
To add interest to straightforward landscapes, Thompson says that gardeners are embracing eye-catching focal points amid the simplicity. These focal points tend to especially come in pairs at entrances or edges of the garden.
“On either side of the front sidewalk, on either side of a driveway, or on either side of the gate entry to a garden space, there might be a larger, more expensive
or a larger sculptural plant,” says Thompson. “Then there might just be a simple box with hydrangeas behind it.”
Green and White
Clean green and white color schemes are here to stay, says Falkner. Sticking to these colors as a baseline for your garden is stylish , reliable, and Falkner says we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in 2023. Part of the appeal, he claims, is that a white and green palette is both timeless through the ages and stable year-round. It can offer blooms that will last throughout the whole year.
“Green and white is very, very popular,” he says. “It’s a very classic look from the very old Italian and French gardens of the 1800s. We’re still doing the style and it stood the test of time beautifully.”
Concentrated Pops Of Colors
Though many Southern gardeners are keeping it simple, and for the most part, sticking to classic, un-clashing palettes, when we do choose the break out color , we’re doing it strategically in 2023. Small bursts of mixed color are trending.
“I definitely see people using more color and being less scared to mix colors,” says Thompson. “But, it’s more concentrated areas of color. Maybe one flower bed, or just pots with color, but the rest is all green. It’s concentrated pops of mixed color versus color everywhere.”
Furniture In The Garden
Whether the furniture is placed on the outskirts of the yard within view of the garden or right splat in the middle, Thompson shares that people are planting down furniture that encourages gardeners to go out, enjoy the sunshine, and sit down amidst their fruits of their labor.
“There’s a lot of placing seating in the yard and in the garden,” says Thompson, “whether it's benches or chairs, or even a bistro table.”
“The key thing whenever you're designing a garden seating area," Falkner advises, "is to have a way to keep people outside once you've gotten them outside.”
It goes with the territory that gardeners care about the earth. In 2023, gardeners are prioritizing eco-friendly solutions and taking action to keep their land healthy for many blooms to come.
“There are things that we can do that are not actually difficult at all,” says Thompson. “For instance, this year, we bought a mulcher. It's not expensive and it’s a one-time purchase. Now we can mulch our own leaves to make our mulch for the beds for the winter so we’re not going out and buying bags and bags of plastic-filled things. The same thing with compost , especially if you're somebody that cooks and you have vegetable waste, then it’s not hard to do. Things like that.”
“Sustainability is the topic on people’s minds right now, with many of us opting for ‘greener alternatives’ for our homes and gardens to fight against climate change. This will be a trend that we see continue into 2023,” says Allan Jeffrey, from Ultra Decking , predicting that eco-friendly and durable compositive fencing options will rise in popularity this year.
Indoor-Outdoor Stepping Stones
We’ve long been a fan of incorporating pieces of the garden into our homes, never missing a chance to decorate our interiors with fresh blooms and greenery. However, Jo Oliver, Director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse says that in 2023, we’re mixing things up and bringing the inside, out. Connecting a path from the home through the garden—using one consistent material that looks wonderful inside and out—is great for indoor-outdoor entertaining, she says.
“Laying a continuous tile floor that flows from the home into the garden will make the whole area feel much larger, even when the doors are closed,” Oliver adds, recommending porcelain as a go-to. “Porcelain floor tiles and pavers are ideal for this. Not only are they easy to maintain, but they are also very hard wearing and don’t stain.”
Antique Container Gardens
We’ll never quit our obsession with lovely potted plants , but how we’re doing them in 2023 may take a slight turn. While, black cast iron urns and clay pots, especially terra cotta, will hopefully always be in style (fingers crossed!), antique containers are growing in popularity, too, says Thompson. He especially recommends using containers passed down from Grandma. Always ones to embrace a vintage find and hold on tight to family heirlooms, we’ll be holding on tight to this trend.