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  • Chris Gilliland


Garden Media’s 2021 Garden Trends Report concludes that 16 million Americans took up gardening and many more are spending up to two hours more per day during the pandemic. As a result, architects and builders need to know what homeowners want from their backyards to foster these trends.

Gardening wasn’t the only thing that increased over the last year. Outdoor living trends also accelerated dramatically as homeowners opted to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out with patio and deck renovations, outdoor kitchens, expansive windows, and even gardening.

The growth of interest in outdoor living spaces is nothing new, but social distancing guidelines have forced more Americans to use their backyards for exercise, small gatherings, and a source for relaxation. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens found 63.7% of designers surveyed confirmed a growing interest in outdoor living spaces. For the 2021 report, 82% of American homeowners say they are more interested in updating their outdoor living spaces now than before the pandemic.

Biophilia, or the human tendency to interact or be amongst nature, continues to be a design trend increasing since the onset of the pandemic as well. The National Kitchen and Bath Association’s 2021 Design Trends report, which gathers insight from hundreds of residential professionals, identified natural and organic design as one of the top design styles for the next three years.

In addition, the “urban exodus” and shift toward the suburbs are providing more Americans with an abundance of outdoor space. Instead of visiting crowded parks in a city, more Americans have private outdoor spaces that they can design and cater to their desires.

For millions of Americans that means catering their outdoors to gardening and outdoor entertaining. Here are trends for residential construction professionals to know.

Reducing the Lawn

In order to accommodate an outdoor entertainment area and gardening spaces, more homeowners are shrinking the sizes of their lawns, according to Garden Media.

A recent National Garden Bureau survey found 67% of respondents aged 35 and under still desire just “some” green lawn but want a variety of plants encompassing the remainder of the lawn.

In 2019, 23.1 million or 9% of American adults converted part of their lawn to natural/wildflower landscape, according to the 2020 National Gardening Survey.

Other areas of the backyard are being taken over by seating areas, kitchens, and pools.

A Focus on Environmentally Friendly Gardening Practices

Not only are Americans gardening more, they are becoming increasingly aware of how gardens can benefit local wildlife.

Research commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found more Americans are changing the way they garden to benefit wildlife and the planet as a whole.

“The new National Gardening Survey shows people across America are purposefully planting for wildlife, making a conservation difference where they live and advancing the wildlife gardening movement,” said Mary Phillips, senior director of Garden for Wildlife.

During the last three years, 64.1 million American adults purchased a plant because it would benefit birds, bees, or butterflies.

In addition to pollinator gardens, homeowners are opting for native plants, along with water conservation and even organic lawn care, says the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Garden Media suggests garden design has begun to lean toward designs that connect more with nature.

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