I just received my weekly email from the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado. They always have great ideas, inspiration and practical tips for me to apply to my garden design business. But when I saw this posting today I knew I had to share it. It’s exciting to see how homeowners are spending more time, energy and money on their personal spaces. Your outdoor areas can be so much more than a dog run or your childrens playground. I especially like #6. Of course, here in Western Colorado, we already grow all the wine we need, why not grow our cocktails too! 🙂
Enjoy and think outside the box when renovating or creating your outdoor landscape.
Top 10 Landscape/Garden Trends for 2012
Landscape Pros Identify What’s Hot for Colorado in 2012
DENVER, CO – Mother’s Day is the official start to the planting season in Colorado. But before you dig in, check out the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado’s (ALCC) latest list of landscape and garden trends. ALCC polled its professional landscape contractor members to find out what Coloradoans are doing to maximize their outdoor experience. These Top 10 Trends for 2012 provide plenty of food for thought.
Top 10 Landscape Trends for 2012
1. Kitchen gardens are healthy for body, soul and bank account. Coloradoans love to spend time outdoors and gardening is a great way to get outside, grow your own fruits and veggies and take a mental health break all at the same time. According to the National Gardening Association, an investment of $70 in your garden will return an average of $600 in produce. Gardening also is good for our bodies. The average female burns about 250 calories per hour gardening. It also relieves stress and promotes mental tranquility.
2. Go vertical with small space gardens. Being pressed for space does not mean you can’t have a bountiful garden even if your outdoor space is a balcony, porch or rooftop. A one-foot deep planter box with a trellis backed against a sunny patio wall can grow an assortment of climbing beans or cukes with other veggies and herbs planted in front. Or the same set-up can be used to plant flowering vines to climb the trellis with petunias and other annuals spilling over the edges. There are many options to grow up, not out, and they can include watering systems that will keep your plants perky even when you’re away.
3. Accessorize with outdoor art. Works of art have long adorned public outdoor spaces. More recently, as Coloradoans spend their leisure time in outdoor living areas, art is also becoming a fixture in private yards. Landscaping aesthetics are now bolstered by adding a myriad of mediums – from sculptures of metal, stone or glass to handmade wreaths of natural materials to architectural elements and artifacts. Carefully placing art amid natural surroundings adds new dimensions of form, texture, color—and sometimes, even surprise.
4. Sustainability and the four “r’s”. Sustainability in landscape is not just a garden design. It’s a philosophy that guides everything you do outdoors based upon the four “R’s” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose. Whether you’re about to install a new landscape, renovate an old one or simply maintain the current one, there are many simple ways to be sustainable. Reducing water use through careful design and plant selection, reusing existing plant materials in a landscape re-do, repurposing old bricks into new edging between grass and beds or simply recycling grass clippings by using a mulching mower and leaving the clippings on the grass—are all sustainable steps. Taking advantage of rebates to make sprinklers more efficient, buying locally grown veggies and preferring Colorado-made blocks, stone and other materials are more easy ways to embrace the sustainability factor.
5. Movies al fresco! Just because an outdoor space is small doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. Strategic design that involves careful plant placement and use of wood, flagstone and other hardscape elements can enhance the privacy of these areas and increase their functionality. Coloradoans continue to maximize their small spaces with outdoor kitchens, bar lounges and even outdoor movie theaters complete with LCD televisions designed for outdoor weather. You can now grab a beverage from the fridge, nuke the popcorn and watch a movie without leaving the comfort of your own backyard!
6. Grow your own cocktail ingredients. Although you may not be able to grow that olive for your martini in Colorado, there are plenty of other cocktail garnishes that can be grown in your garden. “Garden cocktails” are a new trend many gardeners are imbibing. A variety of cocktail ingredients can be grown including: mint (Mojito and Mint Julep), lemon grass (Lemon Grass Cocktail), pearl onions (Gibson and Martini), celery (Bloody Mary) and strawberries (Daiquiri).
7. Get a “bang for your buck” through landscaping. Whether you are looking to increase your home’s value or decrease the time it’s on the market for sale, investing in well-designed quality landscaping is a dollars and cents decision. Unlike other home improvements, landscaping yields an average 109% return on every dollar spent. Even basic tasks like pruning out-of-control shrubs, replacing unattractive bushes and adding fresh color with annuals and perennials are makeovers that heighten curb-appeal and return real dollar value.
8. Increase security and scenery though landscape lighting. Night lighting that highlights your house and landscape continues to be a very popular innovation. Not only does it look great, but it increases home security and expands the hours you can enjoy the outdoors. And new fluorescent and LED lighting options mean using less energy. LEDs now come in multiple colors, adding more drama to your nightscape.
9. Hardscape makes home entertainment happen. Having a great backyard means you can host a variety summer events – from graduation parties to the 4th of July barbecue to the end-of-season bash Labor Day weekend. The key to successful outdoor entertaining is having hardscape amenities – patio, pergola, deck, seating wall, fire pit – where guests can gather, sit, relax, eat, or dance. Hardscapes use ‘hard’ materials, like natural stone, manufactured blocks, wood, recycled materials and metal to create the spaces suited to your style of entertaining. The color and composition of these materials help define the mood. Many of these materials are quarried or produced right here in Colorado – so ask if the material is local.
10. Water conservation is cool. This year’s low snowpack coupled with a dry spring and record temperatures – conditions very similar to the drought of 2002 – all point to the possibility of another drought. Many landscape lessons learned in 2002 have been applied during the last 10 years. In 2012, which has been designated the Year of Water in Colorado, we know more about creating a landscape that is both beautiful and water wise. Now, there are even more lush-looking low-water plants to choose from and advances in sprinkler technology that make watering them even more efficient. ALCC’s website, www.alcc.com, has information about rebates for water-saving sprinkler system upgrades offered by cities and water providers.
Also remember that LOW water doesn’t mean NO water. Plants do need water and in the process of living and growing they also give back by improving our quality of life. Among many of their benefits, trees and lawns mitigate the high temps produced by pavement, clean the air of carbon monoxide and produce oxygen.
The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) is the premier professional organization for Colorado’s landscape contractors. ALCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year helping landscape professionals address Colorado’s unique climate and promoting responsible use of water and other natural resources. To find a qualified landscape professional or subscribe to ALCC’s free lawn and garden “Tip of the Week,” visit www.alcc.comand click on ‘find a landscape pro’ or ‘tip of the week.’