The Top 5 Trends for Suburban Landscaping in 2021

2020 was defined by COVID-19. It changed everything about how we live our daily lives. By March, Americans were spending as much time at home as possible (or that they could stand), social distancing, and masking up.

This change in lifestyle put landscaping and outdoor living spaces at the forefront of making life during a pandemic bearable. Almost overnight, having a nice landscape or outdoor space to experience whenever you wanted, without risking exposure to COVID-19, became a must-have for suburban homeowners.

Homeowners discovered solace, comfort, and a sense of relief in creating a landscape that they could use as an extension of their home. Landscapes and outdoor spaces became escapes from the monotony of quarantine. As we enter 2021, the focus on landscape and homes’ outdoor space will continue and we will see this influence the trends used in suburban landscaping.

Additionally, the spring and summer of 2020 saw a significant drop in home loan interest rates, so suburban areas in particular saw a strong uptick in home purchases. New home buyers entering their first season of landscaping in their new home plus the massive spike in working from home means we can expect a lot of attention on suburban landscapes in 2021.

Here are the top 5 trends for suburban landscaping in 2021.

#1 Simple, Minimal, and Low Maintenance

Working smarter, not harder is not just an old adage for corporate ladder climbers. This sentiment is expressed in the biggest trend for 2021. With everything going on in the world and the uncertainty that plagues us (pun intended), we crave happiness in its simplest form. This means simple landscape design that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance but still delivers beautiful results.

A simple minimalist approach requires clear, crisp lines with every texture and material in its place which starts with a solid, durable edging that lasts a long time. Your edging will define your landscape while keeping materials like gravel or mulch exactly where you want it (and out of where you don’t want it). For many homeowners, this means steel edging. Steel edging is rigid enough to create clean lines but flexible enough to create contoured shapes.

A minimalist, low maintenance landscape also focuses on plants and greenery that don’t require a serious amount of pruning, watering, or pest treatments. A few go-to elements of a simple, minimal, and low maintenance landscape include:&

  • Trade grass for low maintenance ground cover such as Creeping Phlox, Creeping Juniper, or Stonecrop.
  • Hardscape with patios, walkways, and sitting areas to keep maintenance to a minimum.
  • Mulch to reduce weeding. Plus, steel edging keeps your mulch in place!
  • Resilient, easy to manage plants. Roses are beautiful but they require lots of fertilizer, pesticides, pruning, and water. Consider shrubbery or other hardy plants.

#1 Simple, Minimal, and Low Maintenance

#2 Take the Indoors Outside

We’ve all been spending more time indoors lately as the world has been dealing with a novel virus. It’s no wonder that weeks and months of seclusion and quarantine have left us craving the outdoors.

For suburban homeowners in 2021, this means creating a resort-style outdoor living space that exudes relaxation. Adapting to new social distancing norms means taking our indoor gathering areas outside. Underutilized backyards are becoming well-thought out spaces that evoke a feeling of relaxation and happiness. Must-haves of a resort-style outdoor area include:

  • A defined theme. Resorts often have multiple uses for their outdoor space. A carefully planned theme can bring all of the different uses of an outdoor space together.
  • Lounge seating. Look beyond the standard patio set to a more comfortable lounge option like a plush sectional, chaise lounges, or hanging swings.
  • Defined areas. Well-placed and clearly defined areas help the flow of a resort-style outdoor space. Use steel edging to define walkways, keep ground cover and other landscape materials where they should be, and support features such as a fire pit or water element.
  • Luxurious but usable accents. Popular accents that create a resort style feel include oversized potted plants, a modern fire pit or water feature, mood lighting, outdoor art, hammocks, umbrellas, and outdoor pillows.

#2 Take the Indoors Outside

#3 Color Palettes That Evoke Happiness

A new year means a fresh start, and that includes landscaping. Every year, Pantone, the global authority on the universal language of color, selects a tone that will influence product development, and consumer purchasing decisions across all industries, including fashion, lifestyle industries, tech, and of course, landscaping. They call this the Pantone Color of the Year.

But the 2021 color selection was a little different from decades past; they chose 2 colors:

PANTONE® 17-5104 Ultimate Gray PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating

The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one. The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit,”  said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. Source

The solid, dependable nature of Ultimate Grey paired with the positivity and optimism of Illuminating create a balance of resilience and hope. In landscaping, we will see the bright yellow of Illuminating in flowers, plants and decorative accents. The neutral and versatile Ultimate Grey will be showcased in outdoor furniture, clear-coated steel edging and hardscapes. .  

#4 Environment Focused & Useful Landscapes

Quarantines during the pandemic are rough but it turns out that the global environment might have been better off for it. When COVID-19 hit on a global scale and the concept of quarantine was worldwide, we began to see some pretty amazing things happen in the environment around us.

The waterways in Venice, Italy became the clearest they had been in over 60 years. Dolphins, swans, and fish returned to these previously polluted waters. On April 23, 2020, the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Services announced that the largest detected hole in the ozone layer over the Artic has closed. NASA assessed the NO₂ pollution levels over New York and other major metropolitan areas in the North East and found that was NO₂ levels were 30% lower in March 2020, and “March 2020 shows the lowest monthly atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels of any March during the OMI data record, which spans 2005 to the present.Source

This is all to say that while just uttering the word “lockdown” makes us humans nervous, we can’t say that clear water and clean air is a bad thing. Many suburban homeowners are wanting to do their part in helping the environment by turning to sustainable, environment-friendly landscapes that have a purpose. Here’s how they’re getting started:

  • Composting to improve soil quality and structure.
  • On-site water collection to reduce water waste.
  • Use plants, shrubbery, and trees that are known shelters or food for local species of birds, insects, and animals.
  • Plant native plants to support pollination in your area.
  • Reduce the amount of electricity you use by switching to solar lights for your outdoor lightning.

#5 Spatial Landscape Design Makes a Comeback

To make the most of a simple yet beautiful low maintenance landscape, suburban homeowners are turning to spatial landscaping that looks great from different angles. The masses of people now working from home are looking out their office window to see. . . dead grass. In 2021, homeowners will make a point to ensure their landscape looks good from the most common viewpoints inside their home. So whether they are looking out the window above the kitchen sink, their bedroom, or the backdoor, they want to see a carefully planned landscape. 

Defining areas in your landscape to accomplish a spatial design relies on the strategic placement of the elements in your landscape. We recommend starting with your landscape edging like Colmet steel edging to define the boundaries of the area in your landscape. This will help you “stay in the lines” to ensure your design looks exactly how you want it to look no matter the angle. Then move to where you want to place the larger elements of your landscape such as trees and shrubs.


Putting It All Together

Last year, we all spent much more time at home than we expected, so it’s no wonder that we began to focus on how our homes and living spaces meet our changing needs. For many people, the opportunity to turn an outdoor space into something more appealing and more usable became the chance to decompress from the stresses of our lives. Having your dream landscape became a factor in our own well being. We will continue to see this growth in the importance of the outdoors in our lives throughout 2021. Use these 5 trends to inspire your next landscape project.


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