Green Living

10 of the latest gardening trends

With many gardens becoming smaller, outdoor areas are being repurposed as multi-use zones. Wildflower meadows, outdoor baths and beehives are all on the list for trendsetting gardeners this year


DIY brass plant hanging rack from Alex and Corban.

There’s no denying gardens have changed a lot in the last few decades, morphing into multifunctional spaces where we eat, cook, work out, bathe, as well as grow plants. This year they’ll be more flexible than ever providing gorgeous outdoor living spaces where we can relax, grow more food and be in harmony with nature. Here are our top 10 garden predictions for 2016…

1 The rise of indoor gardens

Decorative indoor plants have been on a roll for a while but in 2016 the emphasis will be more on the edible variety, particularly herbs. Most herbs can be grown indoors as long as they have good light for 6-8 hours a day. Some varieties such as basil and thyme need a sunny north-facing window while shade lovers like mint are alright with lower light levels. Make your own indoor herb planters using recycled tins, jars, wooden pallets or guttering. Drainage holes are essential and you might need a tray beneath your planter to catch excess water. Make sure you plant herbs with similar watering requirements together.

2 Black and charcoal-painted fences and exterior walls

The popularity of dark coloured fences and walls in gardens looks set to continue this year and for very good reason. Black, deep charcoal or dark grey fences and walls make those structures recede visually, focusing attention instead on the plants in front. It’s particularly effective with green foliage, highlighting the different leaf shapes and colours. Painting boundary structures one dark colour is a relatively inexpensive way to disguise a mish-mash of different materials so they read as one, and give tired fences and walls a contemporary lift.


Vintage conveyor belt planters from The Vitrine.


3 Industrial-style garden structures

The industrial style is a popular interiors trend for contemporary apartments and houses, and now that look is continuing outside. We’re big fans of pergolas and tables made with steel, shuttered concrete walls and industrial crucibles or steel tanks repurposed as water features and fire pits. Vintage Conveyor Belt Planters from The Vitrine.

4 Growing micro-greens

No space for a vege garden? No worries, just cultivate your own microgreens on the window sill. Highly nutritious and easy to grow microgreens are seeds harvested a few days after their germination. You can grow an enormous variety of veges as microgreens − from salad greens to herbs and beetroot. Seed mixes are available from Kings Seeds, Tui and other seed suppliers.


5 Outdoor baths

Move over health nuts and hippies, we’re predicting outdoor bathing becoming mainstream this year. A growing number of homeowners are now installing outdoor baths or showers in their gardens so they can lie back and watch the stars overhead or listen to the birds in the trees while in the shower. A big advantage of outdoor baths over spa pools or hot tubs is you don’t need chemicals because you refill the bath each time. And outdoor showers are very useful in summer for cleaning up messy toddlers and dogs, washing off sand if you live near the sea, or washing off dirt after an especially hard day in the garden.


6 Elegant vegetable gardens

With outdoor space such a precious commodity these days, many contemporary kitchen gardeners prefer their vege plots to be as much about good looks as good food. This trend will continue into 2016 with stylish raised beds, potager gardens, beautiful obelisks and neat rows of coloured beets, bright red chilli bushes or pink flowering chives the order of the day. Clipped hedges of box, corokia or coprosma sharpen up the look even more.


7 Naturalistic planting and mini meadows

The rigid lines of perfect plant rows are so last season. In a reversal of the minimalist planting trends of the last few years, we’re starting to embrace the naturalistic landscape style made famous by well know designers such as Piet Oudolf and Oehme Van Sweden. Even in urban gardens mini meadows of grasses and flowering perennials are now right at home, their soft flowing lines the perfect foil for rectilinear structures and man-made materials.

8 Planting flowers for bees

The dire plight of our bees has woken us all up to the need to restore as much of their natural habitat as we can. Flowers are returning to gardens, wildflowers are popping up along verges and in parks, and beehives are the must-have item for urban gardeners. Many of us have realised the harm that chemical sprays can do to bees also, and are finding other alternatives.

Flowers are returning to gardens

wildflowers are popping up along verges and in parks, and beehives are the must-have item for urban gardeners

9 Composts and worm farms

And to accompany that upmarket kitchen garden one must have a designer compost bin and/or worm farm of course. No untidy piles of garden waste for contemporary gardeners − this year we foresee compost bins heading in the direction of other utilitarian outdoor elements such as the clothesline, and transforming into attractive features in their own right. Worm farms are following this trend too, with the popularity of the efficient and convenient Hungry Bin (above) a case in point (


10 Cool garden sheds

Likewise the garden shed. Your basic aluminium box with just enough space for a mower and a few garden tools simply won’t cut it in 2016. As our gardens grow smaller every year, outdoor structures have to justify their existence and that includes sheds. We’re now seeing the shed transitioning into a purpose-built outbuilding that can be used for a whole range of activities; a children’s play area, work space, studio, gym, potting area − or all of the above − in one cleverly designed structure.

Words by: Carol Bucknell.  Photograph of Piet Oudolf’s garden by Karin van Til; other photography by Michael Wee, Toby Scott/

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