Having the space and the available land to grow your own garden is one of the greatest perks of being a homeowner. It’s hard to beat the sense of satisfaction that comes from preparing meals with fruits and vegetables that were grown in your own backyard. Like all aspects of homeownership, gardening is constantly changing, and new ideas for maximizing the beauty and yield of gardens are in no short supply thanks to social media and other lifestyle-sharing websites.
So whether gardening is your passion, your hobby, or just a way for you to be more eco-friendly, there’s always room to make your garden more effective, efficient, and enticing. To transform your garden this spring and truly harness its potential for your family, check out Blindster’s list of the top gardening trends of 2016:
One of the top trends in gardening in 2016 is to take a more hands-off approach when it comes to flowers, grasses, shrubs, and other decorative plants. Creating a perfectly manicured garden where not even a single blade of grass is out of place can be difficult work—especially if you’re short on time or energy after a long week at work. Instead of fussing with a never-ending quest to keep Mother Nature under control, many gardeners prefer to allow nature to take its course—within reason, obviously. Densely packed and free-growing plants can create a beautiful assortments of colors, shapes, and textures, even without the constant trimming, pulling, and fertilizing that many gardens require.
Buy and plant local
Many of the plants you see at your local nursery or flower shop may be from parts unknown. In fact, it’s not uncommon for many plants to require a heavy dose of chemical preparation and a plane ride that costs thousands of dollars in fuel before they arrive at a store where they can be purchased by local homeowners. Instead of relying on exotic plants that require a huge amount of resources and specialized care and attention to survive in your backyard, consider filling your garden with plants that are indigenous to your area instead. They’ll thrive in their ideal climate and help your garden be a more eco-friendly space that showcases the variety of the local flora.
Make it dog and pet friendly
Pets are a huge part of our lives, but many homeowners cringe at the sight of their dogs and cats running wild through their gardens. The result is often dug up or damaged plants, dirt kicked up everywhere, and the early death of plants that were just beginning to bloom. In addition, many homeowners also worry about their pets’ health if they happen to eat something that was treated with pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. These concerns are a big reason why many gardens are going pet-friendly, and that means creative fencing, hardy plants that can withstand pet damage, and instituting a strict rule that keeps toxic chemicals and plants far away from the garden itself.
Concentrate on herbs
Home gardens are often associated with traditional fruits and vegetables that are staples of the modern diet, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini, and for good reason—they’re delicious and easy to grow. But one overlooked perk of having a home garden is the ability to grow a wide variety of herbs that can take your home cooking to another level. Herbs are being incorporated into more and more popular dishes—especially at farm-to-table restaurants—and having your own supply in your garden can encourage you to experiment more in the kitchen and truly unleash the flavors that you’re capable of creating.
Turn your garden into a showcase for all things art
Homemade art pieces have exploded in popularity during the past half-decade due to project sharing websites. What better place to show off your artistic side and share it with the world than your own garden? Combining the beauty of nature with the beauty of art—whether it’s created, found, or salvaged—can create a stunning result and transform your garden into a true outdoor paradise. A garden is all about expressing yourself through your own living creations, and taking advantage of that creative atmosphere with collected or created artwork can be a highly satisfying experience.
Pay close attention to the soil
The key to having a healthy and productive garden is having high-quality and highly fertile soil. But over the years, soil can lose its natural nutrients and ability to produce harvests for your family to enjoy. Paying extra attention to your soil and its quality—or lack thereof—can make gardening a breeze and your plants grow much more easily than they ever have in the past. There’s no magic bullet for creating the ultimate garden soil, so experiment with things like wood chips, leaves, compost, mulch, and other natural soil enhancers to find what works for your outdoor space. The sooner you begin prepping your soil, the better your results will be when trying to grow new things in the future.
Incorporate your gadgets into your gardening experience
Gardening and smartphone apps may seem like the most unrelated phrases in the English language, but there’s actually a huge variety of helpful apps related to gardening. Whether you want to more easily identify plants and potential plant diseases, set and maintain a schedule for watering and fertilizing, plan out your garden months or even years in advance, and easily record your garden’s progress with pictures and notes, look no further than your smartphone or tablet’s app marketplace. In addition, there are countless online gardening communities where you can share your creation and seek help and advice from others.
Give a gnome a home
The humble gnome has made a slow and steady climb back to the top of the list of garden adornments, and now they’re on pace to dethrone fairies, frogs, and other small animal figures from home gardens. With their colorful clothing, gnomes can provide a splash of color to your garden and even an “Easter egg hunt” activity for small children. Place them in hard to find spots—hiding behind mushrooms, peering out from flower pots—and continue adding to your collection over the years. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence that gnomes scare away pests or unwanted insects, but it can’t hurt to try.