The hottest gardening trends for summer 2022, according to experts

The writing is on the back fence. Over the past two years, the United States has become a nation of gardeners.

Millions of Americans have turned to gardening during coronavirus shutdowns, according to the Garden Trends Report 2022 from PR agency Garden Media Group. Social media mentions of ‘front porch’ and ‘front yard’ hit five-year high in 2021, report finds, and McKinsey & Company consultants predict 75% of new gardeners will pursue their hobby .

If you are part of this cohort of confined gardeners, what should you do with your corner of greenery as summer approaches? Newsweek sought advice from industry insiders and gardening experts.

Keep your garden wild

Gardening can feel like a battle against nature at times, but one of the hottest trends this year is letting your garden grow the way it wants. It’s not quite rewilding – the practice of letting areas grow as they would naturally in order to promote biodiversity – but what the designers call “nature-scaping” and “curated wilding”.

Ann-Marie Powell, a member of the UK’s Society of Garden Designers, has seen an increase in customers wanting “natural, loose gardens”.

“The trend for 2022 is the immersive, natural wildlife garden — and, to be honest, I’m deeply thrilled by that,” she said. “People want gardens that appear to be ‘from nature’ rather than more obviously designed spaces.”

Ann-Marie Powell has seen an increase in the number of clients interested in curated wilding.
Ann-Marie Powell/SGD

Does that mean you should stop mowing your lawn and let a meadow flourish? Not necessarily, said Andrew Duff, the company’s vice president and garden designer for more than 30 years.

“If you have kids who want to play, a meadow isn’t great. If you have a dog, a meadow isn’t great,” he said. Newsweek. “When I was a kid, our lawn turned brown and there was moss. We didn’t coat it with chemicals to kill weeds and moss.

“I think we need to change our perception of what a great lawn really is. A lawn changes with the seasons. It’s a great place for wildlife if you let moss and other things grow there.”

Accept seasonal changes

Duff has also noticed a change in attitude about how the garden looks at different times of the year. In the wake of the pandemic, he said, more and more gardeners are realizing that “a garden is not what we see on Instagram”.

“The lawn is green, every plant is green…it’s just not realistic, and people are realizing that now,” he said. “The pandemic has allowed us to slow down and see all these [seasonal] changes daily.”

This year, he said, more gardeners are celebrating the changing seasons, and that includes embracing winter.

“People have realized that it’s okay for a tree not to have leaves; it’s the beauty of the bark and the structure of the tree. And it’s nice to have bare ground. It’s part of the seasonality,” Duff said. “There has been a change in our perception of what is perfect. And in fact, winter is a very, very beautiful time.”

This approach benefits the environment and he thinks more gardeners will start letting dead leaves sit in their garden, for example, rather than cleaning them up immediately.

Ann-Marie Powell's Flowers
“People want gardens that look like nature’s rather than more obviously designed spaces,” says Ann-Marie Powell.
Ann-Marie Powell/SGD

Bring the outdoors into your home

If you use a social media platform, you won’t be surprised that the popularity of indoor plants has exploded in recent years. The industry can “expect sustained growth in the houseplant category” in 2022, according to the Garden Trends Report.

Shoppers seem nostalgic for the 1970s, according to the report, opting for plants such as:

  • Pothos
  • ficus
  • spider plants
  • african violets
  • ferns

The Farmers Almanac also expects the passion for indoor plants to continue. “This year it’s about much more than planting an herb garden on the windowsill. Now we’re looking at something more robust,” he wrote.

“That means growing lights, hanging planters, and even bringing small trellises indoors for climbing plants. Some hobbyists create entire rooms out of the jungle.”

Be kind to birds and bees

Another result of the pandemic is an increased interest in birds and pollinators, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Along with the “organized wild,” gardeners are looking to create spaces that support local wildlife, which means more birdbaths and flowering plants. The market for bird feeders and food was estimated at $2.2 billion in 2021, said the Garden Trends Reportand sales are expected to increase this year.

As Duff points out, however, you don’t have to buy a product to attract birds or bees. You can simply choose your plants wisely. It has seen a revival of hedges in recent years, with gardeners realizing they can extend their green space by planting vertically at the boundaries of their yard. A “tapestry hedge”, combining a variety of wild hedge plants, will benefit local birds.

“You can imagine people looking out the window at home and thinking a bird feeder would be fantastic. I think they’re great, but a varied hedge attracts birds better.” Hawthorn is particularly good for this, he says. “People are experimenting and having fun in their backyards again.”

More than 67 million households bought at least one plant in 2020 “because it benefited pollinators or birds”, according to the Garden Trends Report. These included:

  • eastern redbud
  • Crabapple
  • southern magnolia
  • black eraser
  • Tulip tree

You can also attract insects and pollinators by planting a “tapestry lawn” of various mowing-tolerant species, says gardener Ana Sanchez-Martin.

“The need to mow a tapestry lawn can be reduced by up to two-thirds compared to a regular lawn, and as a result more plant and insect species can inhabit the lawn.”

Andrew Duff's Immaculate Garden
Gardener Andrew Duff says you can keep your garden natural and rich in biodiversity, while creating something scenic.
Andrew Duff/SGD

Terri S. Tomasini