raised bed with vegetables
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

Outdoor Living Trends 2021

Live life al fresco

In the past few years the outdoor space has increasingly become an extra room and this looks set to continue into 2021, but with the emphasis more and more on environmental considerations, with the need to be less wasteful and recycle more. Utilising scrap and waste by re-purposing them as garden sculptures, water features or seating look like becoming a trend this year. As do re-cycled brick, old floor boards, pallets and old furniture becoming urban chic garden furniture.

When it comes to garden furniture the emphasis is on environmentally friendly; constructed from sustainable materials and re-cyclable at the end of its life. Resin weave, although undeniably comfortable, is on the wane as it is constructed from a petroleum derivative and not re-cyclable and all ends up in landfill. If you do want weave garden furniture, then the more expensive has the edge over the budget ranges as it will easily last 4 – 5 times longer. The clean lines of painted timber and aluminium most definitely have the edge over weave and cast resin as they are both recyclable and fulfil the current demand for clean, uncluttered lines. The cocoons will still prove popular as they are so versatile, not only being for the garden but also ideal for a young person’s bedroom.

LIFE Timber Corner Set

Temporary pop-up structures are giving way to something more permanent, sheltering such features as built-in cooking areas with not only a barbecue but also pizza oven, storage and prep areas. Seasoned barbecuers are now not content with one grill but are in possession of several different models from the gas fired, for a quick cook, smokers for the low and slow ‘pulled’ joints of meat, charcoal for the authentic BBQ experience to the wood pellet grills easily controlled from a smartphone. Semi-permanent protection is also taking over from the more portable parasol, with our Runcton ranges, which bolt down and have a solid polycarbonate roof, proving more and more popular. Rustic timber furniture from sustainable sources is also on the rise for the more traditional garden benches and picnic tables.

Garden heating has moved away from the more traditional braziers which burn logs to the clean contemporary lines of European gas fired fireplaces; instant heat and no mess to clear away afterwards. If you’re not a serious barbecuer then the Kadai fire bowls are ideal for providing the heat and cooking a small amount of food. Griddle plates and cast iron cooking pots are available allowing you to cook the usual BBQ fare of burgers, sausages, small pieces of fish, an English breakfast or a one-pot stew. La Hacienda has a huge range of outdoor heating from the simple brazier to something more elaborate and more fitting for the contemporary outdoor living space. 

Underfoot, hard landscaping or artificial turf is still on the rise as the traditional lawn is quite demanding and time consuming to maintain to a reasonable standard. Ceramic tiles are taking over from the traditional patio paving stones to create a more interesting surface which can be carried throughout the rest of the ground floor in the home. Re-cycled, treated floor boards make an interesting urban chic surface.

Garden lighting is moving away from the faint solar stakes and strings of Christmas lights to a more integrated permanent lighting system, installed by professionals, in keeping with using the outdoor space as an extension of the home. Key specimen plants can be up-lit and it is particularly important that steps and walkways are well lit.

Garden landscaping is now moving towards easily maintained raised beds around the perimeter or as a divider between the different zones of cooking, relaxing and play areas. These are also easily maintained by the disabled. Recycled stone and timber look like being the main construction materials. Planting is no longer the star of the show and is moving away from the traditional cottage style mixed border to a simple scheme and mainly confined to just one or two plants such as evergreen grasses, lavender or rosemary, with a bed of herbs besides the barbecue. Drought tolerance and ease of maintenance is a factor when selecting plants, reflecting the need to conserve water and the lack of time needed to tend a mixed herbaceous border.

Awareness of food provenance is on the rise as consumers are more conscious of the need to cut down on food miles and to farm sustainably. With this in mind ‘Grow your own’ will continue to rise with raised planters and windowsill vegetables being particularly popular as they are within the capabilities of most people. Easy vegetables to grow, which don’t require any specialist pieces of kit, include salad leaves, herbs, baby carrots and dwarf peas and beans.

Houseplant sales have boomed in the last couple of years particularly with apartment dwellers who don’t have access to any outdoor space. Easy plants which will tolerate a degree of neglect being the most popular; such as sansevieria, spider plant, succulents and cacti.

This year will continue to see the emphasis on the outdoor space being more an area to socialise and less of a horticultural showpiece, with sustainability and the environment being at the forefront when it comes to choosing furniture and hard landscaping.