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2020 in landscape design

October 15, 2020 -  By
Patio design (Photo: numismarty/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Photo: numismarty/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Earlier this year, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) unveiled its official list of the top lawn and landscape trends for this year. Dan DeGrush, senior landscape architect with Lifescape Colorado in Denver; Andy Blanchford, CEO of Blanchford Landscape Group in Bozeman, Mont.; and Alex Nickens, co-owner of Nickens Lawn & Landscape in New Athens, Ill., break down the trends and share how they panned out for their company’s 2020 projects.

1. Ornate, geometric hardscaping patterns in walkways, patios, retaining walls and fire features.

Nickens says intricate patterns are something his company has done with hardscaping, regardless of trends, to set his company apart.

However, DeGrush says he has noticed a bigger push for ornate and geometric hardscaping patterns.

“I do think that’s a trend,” he says. “It does keep tending to go that way. I don’t know if we’re entirely there yet, but it’s making a push in that direction.”

2. Contemporary and transitional landscape design with sleek and simple designs and multiseason functionality.

Blanchford cites the influence of mountain modern architecture on elements he’s pulled into landscape design.

“We introduced some elements such as bits of steel and steel planters that have clean and simple lines,” he says. “We’re trying to pull in the feel of that modern aesthetic, but it’s not totally appropriate to the natural landscape.”

Transitional outdoor living spaces with fireplaces and grills are popular in Montana, Blanchford says.

Nickens says he’s seen a push for transitional spaces with his clients, and more than 60 percent of the hardscapes installed this year have included fire pits.

“Our theory is everyone has been at home so much with COVID-19,” he says. “They’re basically stuck at their house. I think people are just trying to expand their outdoor living to where they have a place to go within their property. They don’t have to sit inside all the time. They can spend some time outside.”

DeGrush says he’s noticed clients with traditional brick homes want a contemporary landscape.

“It’s kind of a simplification of things,” he says. “Your lawn, rather than being this curving type of thing, it’s got more of a simple geometric shape.”

He says plantings are more gridlike in intention with big groupings of plants, such as 15 grass plants next to a grid of 20 black-eyed Susans, next to another block of plantings.

3. Bountiful shades of blue.

“Color trends are hard,” DeGrush says. “I see everything (with my clients).”

He says clients want everything from plantings with a lot of color to variegated gardens with only white and green plants. Most of that comes down to client preference.

4. Garden design with edible elements.

“The idea of it may be more attractive than the reality of it,” Blanchford says of edible plants in landscape design.

He says he advocates for edible or fruiting trees, but, often, a fruiting cherry tree may attract birds or is messy.

DeGrush, too, says he’s noticed for several years more clients have had an interest in gardens with edible plants or even vertical gardens.

“Vertical gardens sound awesome, they look cool, but when you get into making it functional and the waterproofing and the irrigation, a lot of times, people back off,” he says. “I hear (requests for) ‘low maintenance’ more than I hear anything else.”

Nickens says his company has had more requests for apple tree installations. He’s also noticed more vegetable gardens on properties his company manages.

“Seeing so many different properties and homes, (we’re) definitely seeing a lot of new gardens that weren’t there previously,” he says.

5. One-click, remote irrigation.

DeGrush says operating an irrigation system remotely or via smartphone is something he’s seeing for residential clients in Colorado.

For example, after a recent meeting, a client told DeGrush he would get out a hose to address some dry spots in the yard. Instead, DeGrush says, this is a perfect opportunity to “get out your smartphone and hit a button.”

A maintenance manager could also turn on or turn off irrigation from anywhere instead of driving to the site to flip a switch. “That’s the beauty of it,” he says. “It makes your life so much simpler.”

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

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