With millions of people stuck at home this spring, gardening itself has become trendy across the globe, but what are the top hot garden trends for 2020? There are a number of areas of gardening that are especially popular this year – partly due to the pandemic, and partly simply due to the fact that people are paying more attention to where their food comes from, and how industrial agriculture is harming the planet.
As more people turn to gardening as a way to improve their self-sufficiency, provide healthy food for their families, or support their local environment in a sustainable way, we will likely see several of these trends continue for years to come – and we’re excited to see how many of them involve sustainable gardening practices!
Here’s what we’re seeing as 4 of the top hot garden trends this year – plus one that is picking up steam as a super-hot future trend:
1. More gardening … and younger gardeners
Even before the pandemic hit, interest in gardening was growing, and it’s no longer just the over-50 crowd.
Not only did lawn and garden spending set an overall record of more than $52 billion in 2018, according to the National Gardening Association’s 2019 National Gardening Survey, but participation by the Millennial generation (ages 18-34) continues to grow at a higher rate than other age groups – now equaling Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and beyond.
Millennials accounted for a quarter of 2018’s record gardening spending, which NGA says comes despite these younger gardeners having lower household incomes than older age groups and being more likely to live in an apartment or condo.
2. Kinder, gentler gardening
“Especially the Millennial generation, but really the industry as a whole, has the desire to be more ecologically responsible,” says Robert Kadas, general manager at Highland Gardens in Lower Allen Twp.
For one thing, he says, that’s translating into less chemical use.
For another, it means gardeners are increasingly looking for tough, naturally bug- and disease-resistant plants so they can be successful without spraying or coddling.
“Organic is not enough,” adds Garden Media Group’s Dubow.
She says gardeners are keenly interested in eco-friendly ways to garden as well as bigger-picture sustainable practices, which led to the new Regenerative Organic Certification launched last June.
That certification adds such factors as soil health, fair trade, and animal welfare to the non-chemical requirements of being certified organic.
3. Pollinators and native plants
Here’s another trend that’s been strong the last few years and one that trend-watchers say is showing no signs of abating.
Related to the above eco-friendly concerns, gardeners are planting with an eye on attracting pollinators and helping native wildlife in addition to care and ornamental considerations.
One native plant family that’s especially trendy, says Ashcombe nursery manager Brandon Kuykendall, is milkweeds.
“I’ve noticed a rather substantial increase in that species being sold as people want to support monarch butterflies,” he says. “Host plants for swallowtails, such as spicebush, pawpaws, and Dutchman’s pipe, have been on many customers’ minds as well.”
Although this one’s bigger in the Southwest than here, Pennsylvania gardeners also are more interested in reducing water use in the garden, says PHS’s Bunting.
“Gravel gardening, water-wise gardening, and xeric gardening are all gaining in popularity as we all become more and more aware of global climate change and areas where access to water is a real issue,” he says. “Public gardens like ones at Chanticleer, Scott Arboretum, and even at the PHS headquarters are using these types of gardens to demonstrate how to have beautiful gardens that require very little water or irrigation.”
5. Cannabis on the horizon?
While it’s not an established trend yet, as tolerance for marijuana use grows, a wave of would-be cannabis gardeners apparently is waiting in the wings.
Besides a boatload of books already out on the subject of how to grow cannabis plants, the 2019 National Gardening Survey says that nearly half of the Millennials it surveyed (ages 18 to 34) said they would “definitely or probably grow a type of cannabis if it were legal to do so.”
A big chunk of those say that would be their first foray into gardening.