How is environmental consideration driving the design of certain types of gardens? What kinds of flowers are coming back into fashion? How is technology affecting the way people experience their backyards?
Rachael Williams, a residential account manager at James Martin Associates (JMA) and a former senior horticulturist for the Chicago Botanic Garden, offers her views on what types of landscaping trends to expect in 2019.
What is your outlook on the landscaping industry for 2019?
Promising! I think more and more people will be turning to landscape professionals to help them, at some level, with their landscape.
As younger generations are entering the work force, are they changing customer expectations?
Many younger people are not as concerned about how the lawn looks. With small children and pets roaming the backyard, younger couples are looking for a more organic approach to gardening and maintaining their landscape.
Many younger people are also more environmentally conscious, driven by reports of global warming and diminishing insect and bird species. The challenges we’ll face as landscapers is to keep up with the new demands while updating our products and services to accommodate new expectations.
What are some of the ways you feel technology will be integrated in landscapes in 2019?
There are more and more apps available for anything from identifying insects, diseases and plants to estimating and measuring on site with a laser app. These technologies will make it easier and more efficient for the landscaper to manage their properties.
Solar is becoming more sophisticated as is Wi-Fi. We see lighting, sound and TV screens becoming more a part of the outdoors as industries adopt these technologies for use in the landscape.
Have your clients expressed an interest or concern in providing ecosystems for pollinators in their backyards?
Yes. Not only are younger clients interested in supporting pollinator habitats, but many people in the older generation also feel the need to be responsible for creating sustainable ecosystems in their backyards and communities.
Are you noticing a higher demand or interest in composting?
There has always been a great deal of interest in composting. For those without the time and space, they are looking to their landscapers to provide a quality composted product.
Have you noticed any greater interest in a particular type of plant recently?
Plants are like fashion: They trend in and out. Right now there are a lot of new introductions of hydrangeas in the market so they are trending. So are hostas. Breeders are continually adding new and colorful foliage (and sizes) of hostas into the industry. These used to be considered ‘old fashioned’ plants that are now popular again.
For the pollinator ecosystems, milkweeds are very popular and we are getting many requests to integrate this plant into butterfly gardens.
They’re saying asymmetrical designs will be popular in 2019; have you seen this in designs recently?
Yes. Asymmetrical is less formal and casual and gives the impression that it is easier to maintain. A more symmetrical design suggests that the landscape is more complicated to maintain.
That’s not necessarily true, but a lot of newer homes are being designed to be less symmetrical; for example, farmhouse style is very popular now. I think the asymmetrical design complements the newer housing design styles. A farmhouse style is generally a looser design.
Are your customers asking for more private and secluded spaces?
Not more than usual. I think clients in urban areas have always wanted privacy in their backyards.
Are your customers wanting to incorporate edibles into their normal landscaping instead of keeping them separate?
We saw a lot more of that a few years ago. Having a mini urban farm was popular option, including keeping chickens! Not so much anymore.
People do like to keep some vegetables and herbs that they feel they will use most often. However, farmers markets and CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture farms) offer easy to access to organic options that are more convenient than trying to grow them in a backyard.
As people have less time to care for their landscapes do you think they’ll sub this out to landscapers or try to create low-maintenance gardens?
I think that many people will be looking for a more custom landscape program. Perhaps they’ll mow their own lawn but look to professional landscapers to do pruning, mulching, garden care, spring and fall clean-ups, and general garden care.
Low maintenance gardens may reduce costs but they will still require maintenance like weeding, occasional deadheading, pruning, etc. People will also look for outside help when it comes to designing landscape features.
Are any of your customers voicing a desire for battery-powered equipment?
The desire for battery powered equipment is coming from the local municipalities. Clients are voicing their concern to their local governments who then issue new rules for landscapers to follow. I expect that we will be see more of this in the future.
Do you think the addition of robotic mowers will help or hurt the industry?
They will help the industry. Many landscapers are already introducing robotic mowers into their mowing programs.
To incorporate these and other landscaping trends into your garden this year, contact James Martin Associates.
Note: This blog post is based on a piece by Total Landscape Care that JMA provided insight for. See the article here.