Garden Trends - unravelling the rhetoric


Most garden trade or house & garden magazines provide their readership with insights on how they and others see gardening trends for 2017. There’s a variety of terminology, explanations and justifications used, and some can seem fanciful.

How do we know which trend is sure-fire or which is a temporary fad? How do we decide what should be the ‘must haves’ in our seasonal purchasing budget for each department that will satisfy the vast range of customer requirements.

People are taking the benefits of green space more seriously these days and it’s generally considered by health professionals of all disciplines that time spent in the garden and outdoors offer huge benefits to mental and physical health. ‘Healthy is the new wealthy.’

The one point of difference garden centres have from the plethora of stores offering gifts, homeware, furniture and décor products for the home and outdoor room is plants.


Lets take a look at some of the serious indicators for plant trends this year and suggestions for inspiring your customers

The fascination for indoor plants will be stronger 

Smart retailers will have a good offer of the most popular flowering and foliage with attractive pot covers and décor pots ready to go. They will sell the benefits to customers too 

  • Bringing nature inside helps to reduce stress and we feel much better.
  • Indoor plants create happier workers and lower healthcare costs.
  • Plants are great air and pollution filters

Terrariums and tiny 'fairy' gardens continue to make a statement. Even if city dwellers have little outdoor space they can create something beautiful to enjoy.

 Growing vegetables year round on the kitchen counter or window sill.

The sexy name is ‘redefining peak season’ but they could also be considered ‘house plants you can eat’! USA research shows 37% of millennials and 28% of Boomers are growing herbs and micro-greens indoors. The desire to grow indoors is on the rise due to the increasing number of people living in urban environments and smaller spaces plus the health messages of eating light, eating vege and the use of botanics in beverages.

In your store

  • offer books, seeds, growing media and attractive shallow, containers suited to growing indoor
  • offer ready to go kits
  • consider all the products you have for link sales
  • schedule workshops or demonstrations to show how to grow and how to use


Dwarf shrubs, smaller trees.

 Less space for large trees, less day to day maintenance; less desire for neighbourhood boundary quarrels; robust plants that stand up to extreme weather conditions and container growing.
People would like green space but are looking for plants that are appropriate for the scale of the garden.
Gold is back in the spotlight. Pops of golden foliage add colour and warms spaces.

In your store

  • display or lay out plants by end use to make it easier for customers to select;
  • show simple examples of planting schemes or foliage and colour that goes well together for inspiration
  • use landscaping principles to sell plants in 3’s; 5’s; 7’s
  • use endcaps and have promotions of popular seasonal plants.
  • show simple ideas for shrubs for small spaces.
  • prepare appropriate signage with nformation and ideas


Vertical Gardening and the lawn re-imagined.

Both are perfect for smaller spaces. Climbers will increase in popularity and a larger variety of modular wall systems’ will become available. Simple solutions using pallets, steel mesh, felt and ‘found items’ will continue to be popular on pin boards such as Pinterest.

We will see more grass mixes that don’t need to be mowed; people will search for lawn like alternatives that are easy care; add interest to the ground plane and cope with extreme conditions in small spaces.

In your store,

  • have a collection of ‘props’ and backdrops to use in displays for ideas and inspiration for small spaces
  • laminate suitable pages from magazines showing vertical gardens and alternative lawns in use and attach them to sign-holders as a way of providing customers with ideas and inspiration
  • display simple concepts for creating alternative ground planes combining hard landscaping products with grasses and groundcovers

There’s another trend indicator that has been slowly building and shouldn’t be over-looked:


It’s amazing what people can do with their smart phones and it’s not just Millennials that are attracted to technology. The majority of the adult population uses apps for maps and navigation and to do their banking.

In our industry there’s apps to design outdoor spaces, choose colour palettes, choose, purchase and learn about plants and their care; monitor irrigation and lighting. Pinterest and Instagram are commonly used for ideas, Facebook and Twitter for communication. Its technology that’s considered basic to retailing these days. Having a website and regular newsletters going to customers are essential but no longer enough to engage with the new to gardening.


- Joy Lamb