In late March of 2020 the UK government imposed a lockdown, banning all “non-essential” travel and contact with people outside of one’s home, in a bid to control the wide spread of the Global Pandemic. This posed challenges on all levels for everyone around the country, adapting to become educators and entertainers, shifting family dynamics and advancing our digital presence to support new ways of working and socialising. With many necessary restrictions still in place, people have turned to green spaces to find sanctuary and escape…
The lockdown has encouraged more of us to spend time outdoors where possible, to immerse ourselves in the natural world in order to feel more connected and grounded to Nature and our living environment. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) reported over one million web visits to their Gardening Advice pages during first 9 days of lockdown (24 March – 1 April 2020). This slower pace of life enabled us to watch the seasons change in front of our eyes. We observed growth, we took note of the trees coming into bloom and the plants flourishing as our daily walks became ritual. As we all try and navigate this ‘New Normal’ we take a look at how the great outdoors has provided us with much needed refuge in these uncertain times, focusing on some of the positive garden trends to emerge from lockdown.
Creating an Adaptable 5th Room
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that householders; who are lucky enough to have gardens; are re-categorising their outside space as the 5th Room (of the home). Investment in better quality furniture is just the start of things they desire for this ‘new’ space. They are looking to create spaces that have the same level of style and consideration in design terms as their lounge has. From soft furnishings to stylish lighting and decorative accessories including wall features such as mirrors and artwork. The UK weather sets many challenges with regard to products being fit-for-purpose in wind, rain, frost and snow. But consumers are looking to retailers and manufacturers to find and offer solutions so that they can create, or re-create, the dream spaces that they see on Instagram, Pinterest and blogs.
Textiles and Outdoor Styling
The creation of ‘Soft Spaces’ that are physically and visually soft, is key. Textile accessories more traditionally seen in living rooms are moving outdoors. This means soft furnishings such as cushions or blankets and outdoor rugs; that define seating areas; are used to create outdoor schemes that are inviting and cosy. Consumers are using these outdoor spaces to showcase their individual style too, with customised, crafted products, art features and decorative planters. See more of this trend’s style here or view our Pinterest board with all the inspirational images you need to create this trend’s look.
Our lives are not as partitioned as they once were. Work, home and social lives now all merge together; which requires products, such as outdoor furniture, and spaces to crossover several categories in order to be practical and effective. The garden has become a make-shift gym, an office, a place or worship, a classroom, a bar and even a holiday destination, as families set up camp to recreate the vacations they missed.
Our outdoor areas are also getting smarter and beginning to include more technology products. Television screens and outdoor cinemas have risen in popularity. Paired with outdoor heaters, comfortable seating areas and lights that look more like living room decor to generate a place of ultimate relaxation.
The Garden Office
With people forced to work form home, for some, the garden has also become a place of preference to work (weather permitting), and we predict that for many this will continue to be an option. This got us thinking of thought provoking products and ideas that would enable this transition to be as efficient and practical as possible. Of course, a 1st world problem is the constant need to charge devices, therefore products with integrated charging facilities is likely to be high on the wish-list of consumers for outdoor furniture. Parasols that provide shade, heaters for cooler days and speakers for conference calls and zoom meetings are all things to consider.
Grow Your Own
The fears over food shortages strengthened the trend of becoming more self-sufficient with over a third of a million people visiting RHS’s ‘Grow Your Own‘ pages for advice. Paving suppliers, Primethorpe Paving also found that Google Search Trends for ‘How to grow vegetables’ was up by 400% in comparison to the previous year. However, according to the Office of National Statistics one in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden, meaning UK residents have had to get inventive…
Balconies, terraces, courtyards, outside walls and small gardens spaces have been consumed with vertical planting solutions, pots, planters and hanging baskets for vegetables like tomatoes, peas, climbing beans and squash. According to RHS the search for ‘container growing vegetables‘ is up by 219% with growers keen to learn about the most productive vegetables and herbs that can be planted together in pots and containers, ideal for space-saving purposes. Perhaps this movement will also build on the resurgence of community spirit… people trading different home cooking recipes with neighbours, reaching out to other growing enthusiasts in the area and swapping/sharing advice and produce.
The grow-your-own trend will continue to strengthen and from a wider perspective, when they begin to ease social distancing rules, we predict to see produce being grown not just in our individual gardens but also in community spaces. Architects and employers are continually trying to create and integrate grow your own opportunities in urban environments. This can be seen happening already on rooftops of apartment buildings, schools and workplaces. Restaurants will grow their own produce onsite and supermarkets will house vertical farming units to encourage us, as a community, to grow, harvest, prepare and eat food together.
Watching the rich wildlife in our gardens has become a favoured pastime, with #BreakfastBirdwatch and #WildlifeFromMyWindow images shared by many on social media. With new housing developments rising throughout the UK, it is critical for residential gardens and community spaces to provide wildlife habitats where their natural world is lost or compromised.
The RSPB and other wildlife charities offer advice and information on creating mini nature reserves in the garden, suggesting the best nectar-rich flowers, best feed for birds and how to create the best homes for hedgehogs, frogs, bats and birds. It is also a great way to get the kids involved, making birdfeeders, bird baths, bird houses, insect hotels and bee houses; all of which improve urban biodiversity, as well as human wellbeing.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
It is also important to highlight the holistic benefits of gardening in relation to not just our physical health but also our mental health and wellbeing. Immersing ourselves into nature stimulates all of our senses, it fosters our innate connection to the earth, understanding our place and our roots as humans. The slow hobby of nurturing our gardens and observing our natural surrounding offers many therapeutic benefits, a calming and deeply gratifying experience issuing positive messages of hope. A recent survey by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) shows that nearly three-quarters of people who have access to a garden, courtyard or balcony, say it has helped their mental health during lockdown.
Overall our gardens have provided many with a welcomed sanctuary during these tough time. As a nation we are reassessing our buying and spending habits, our eating and drinking habits and reconsidering the things we find most valuable in our lives. With Climate Change still at the forefront of global issues it is more important that ever before to preserve our biodiversity, minimise our environmental impact and help establish a better way of living that allows Nature to truly flourish. If you would like any further information on Gardening Trends and how they will impact your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch! (Email Phil or call +44 7896 088996)