Landscape Trends for 2020

My Garden Life
January 8, 2020
Table of Contents
These days it’s not enough to just maintain our landscapes. The trend is to manage our individual pieces of the planet in ways that better resemble natural habitats. People are looking for plants and landscape designs that are beautiful but that also provides livable space and food sources for wildlife and native plants.
No surprise then, that one of the biggest trends of the season is “ungardening.” That’s not to say, “don’t garden”. This trend is about trying to restore some formal garden spaces and open lawn areas to a more natural state, filled with variety of plants – perennials, shrubs and trees – that support many lifeforms, from insects and reptiles to birds and mammals. And that doesn’t mean you can’t garden with style. Here are some of the trends you can use to bring fresh colors and a new look to your outdoor spaces.

Plant Trends

The National Garden Bureau has expanded its “plant of the year” categories to include even more beautiful and reliable selections. Here are their recommendations for 2020:

Hydrangea, Lavender, Iris, Corn, Lantana

Bulb – Year of the Iris

Irises are among the easiest of perennials to grow from bulbs, roots or rhizomes. Their sword-like foliage adds a wonderful vertical line to the landscape and their blooms are a favorite for cut flower arrangements.

Annuals – Year of the Lantana

Butterflies love lantana! One of the most durable flowering plants for sunny, hot, dry conditions.

Edibles – Year of the Corn

Who doesn’t love eating fresh sweet corn in the summer? One of the easiest vegetables to grow and so versatile for cooking.

Perennials – Year of the Lavender

The “Lavender Lifestyle” is real! These days you can find lavender in everything from home décor to health and wellness products, beverages and of course, growing at home!

Flowering Shrub – Year of the Hydrangea

There are more than 20 species of hydrangeas and all offer the versatility that has made hydrangea a landscape favorite for generations. Better yet, new, more compact varieties grow well in a decorative pot, creating a great new option for small-space and urban settings.

Perennial Plant of the Year

This honor highlights a plant that stands out above other similar plants, but also:
  • Requires minimal maintenance.
  • Grows in a wide range of climates.
  • Remains beautiful over multiple seasons.
  • Has good pest and disease resistance.

Aralia cordata 'Sun King'

This year’s pick, Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, is a big, bold perennial plant with golden-yellow to chartreuse leaves that adds a warm glow to shaded areas of the landscape from spring through fall. Clusters of small flowers attract pollinators in the summer and small berries are a treat for birds in the fall.

Citrus Trees

Orange trees in pots, orange blossoms and fruits
People everywhere are discovering the joys of citrus trees. Citrus trees make beautiful foliage plants. They can be grown in the ground or in pots, their flowers are intensely fragrant, and their fruits are colorful and edible. Use citrus to create a tropical feel indoors and out.

Color Trends

Every year key influencers in the world of color trends for fashion, home décor and gardening goods select a “color of the year.” One is Pantone (they provide a color matching system for design and printing industries) and another is the Garden Media Group (dedicated to promoting gardening trends). According to both groups, the year 2020 is all about blue shades. Pantone selected “classic blue” and the Garden Media Group selected “indigo blue” as the trendy colors for 2020.
Photos of ways to use blue flowers and decorative objects such as pots and benches in the landscape.

You can bring blue into your garden scheme with:
  • Cushions, pillows and umbrellas to combine with your patio furniture.
  • Paint a trellis or wood lattice screen.
  • Look for blue-colored containers.
  • Accent your landscape and pots with blue flowered plants such as: pansies, petunias, leadwort, delphinium, mealy cup sage and lobelia.

Take the Indoors Out

Outdoor living space decorated with furniture and container plants.

Creating outdoor living spaces that are just as cozy as indoor spaces became trendy a few years ago and evolved into part of our everyday lifestyles, especially as more people are intentional about increasing their time spent outdoors. Trends like the “1000 hours outside challenge” or physicians prescribing time outdoors in the fresh air as part of a patient’s treatment, have people thinking about how they can put more outside time into every day. A patio kitchen, fire pit or your own personal tiki bar are great enticements!

Comfy Furniture

Comfortable patio furniture made of woven wicker and plush cushions.

Furniture for outdoor home spaces continues to move away from clunky heavy metal chairs and tables, flimsy molded plastic, or heavy wood frames, to a combination of materials that are durable for the outdoors, but as comfy as the living-room sofa. They’re more often lightweight and easy to move, with frames made of aluminum, plastic faux wood or woven wicker, combined with plush cushions and colorful pillows. No one said you couldn’t nap while you’re clocking your outside time…

Outdoor Heating

Outdoor patio room with cozy seating and a stylish fire pit.

Extend the time spent outdoors into every season with outdoor heating. Whether it’s a fire pit, a gas-fueled heater or radiant heater there are many ways to keep cozy and enjoy your outdoor space through all the seasons.

Plant More Trees

Mother and child walking along a road lined with rows of mature trees.

The trillion trees project is one of many campaigns to replenish the number of trees in the world. Even folks with small spaces can squeak in a tree or two with the right selection. See our article, 12 Small Trees for a Big Landscape Look to find great selections for those with limited landscape space, or who need shorter trees that won’t interfere with utility lines around a property.

Know It and Grow It

Dad and two sons picking strawberries in a field.

Farmers markets and “u-pick” farms are booming as the trend to buy fresh, locally grown produce continues. More and more local growers are offering field-to-table dining experiences right on their farms. Consumers look for the opportunities to know where their food comes from, who grew it and the agricultural methods used. There’s more incentive than ever to grow your own fruits, berries and vegetables in order to control the process.


Row of images showing cotton, made to fabric, made to jeans and finally jeans repurposed into a planters.

People are growing more concerned about the life cycle of the products they wear, use and eat. They’re questioning where did it originate, how was it grown, who produced it and how easy will it be to discard one day? Can the product be repurposed or recycled or is it heading to a landfill? Composting is one way you can keep some items out of the landfill. Check out our article, Guide to Direct Composting, for a super simple way to compost common kitchen scraps.

Finish Your Vegetables

A plate of delicious grilled vegetables ready to eat.

According to the USDA nearly 40% of the U.S. food supply ends up in landfills. About 20% of that is from consumers disposing of food that’s gone bad, left on their plates or it’s the scraps left from preparing food. When foods are purchased and never used the cost is greater than the price of a bunch of bananas, it’s the land, water, labor, energy, processing and transporting costs and resources that are also wasted. So before you throw scraps away, reconsider if there isn’t still some use for them chopped, minced, mashed or pureed as an ingredient in a soup, casserole, smoothie or sauce. If not, then compost as much as you can. Try to make the landfill the last option for disposing of food wastes.

Pretty Ugly Produce

Basket of beautiful assorted tomatoes next to a pile of ugly tomatoes.

It has become very common for people to post photos of beautiful meals on social media. This has resulted in some foods gaining popularity simply because they are pretty and colorful. On the flip side there is growing support for ugly produce. That’s the fruits, berries and vegetables that are slightly blemished or have distorted, unnatural looking shapes. They can usually be had for reduced prices and yet they are every bit as nutritious as their pretty counterparts. Note: ugly produce should not be confused with produce that is stale, moldy or severely damaged.

Botanical Beverages

Beverage made from butterfly pea flowers - Clitoria ternatea.

Botanical-based beverages continue to grow in popularity with the flavorings getting ever more exotic. Whatever the beverage – whether it’s teas, smoothies, infused water or a cocktail – the range of ingredients is expanding to an ever-wider variety of exotic fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs, seaweed and spices.

Do the Most with What You Have

Container garden outside the door of an urban house.

“Live your best life” is a popular theme these days. It’s all about living up to your own best potential. That’s a philosophy that can translate to your environment as well. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your outdoor space is living up to it’s full potential:
  • Design plantings and hardscape features that reduce water use and maintenance time.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals with organic choices for pest control and fertilization. Pull weeds by hand.
  • Select plants that do double-duty by providing beauty and food or nesting materials for wildlife.
  • Replace lawn areas that are water hogs with garden plantings, perennial plants, trees and shrubs.
  • Replace narrow grass areas with gravel or block garden paths – they’re low or no maintenance depending on the materials used.
  • Use cover crops in any part of the vegetable garden that is going to lay fallow for the winter.
  • Incorporate herbs and vegetables among flowering plants. The blooming plants can improve the productivity of your vegetables by enticing pollinators to the area.
  • Use container plants to transform lifeless balconies, decks or paved areas into garden spaces. Small trees and shrubs in containers can be used along with flowering plants or vegetables.
Every year brings a wave of fresh color choices, décor ideas, and new plants and priorities to gardening. How will you incorporate this season’s trends into your home and garden? Have fun playing with new possibilities and don’t forget that you can show the world your trend-setter style and bring inspiration to others by sharing your ideas to My Garden Life’s Instagram and Pinterest pages.


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