5 Hot Garden Designs For 2014

 Hop on Pop! Hops are big in gardening this year.   Photo: Andy Rogers/FlickrWinter is my favorite time of year to hunker down and dream up my future landscaping plans. It’s the new year, which means I’m filled with resolve, excitement, and lots of ambition. And although it may be cold and dark outside, I know that in a few months the sunny days will return, and we’ll all be shuffling outside onto our San Diego patios for another glorious spring and summer.

Taking a little time right now to plot your garden projects is the best way to make it easier on yourself come planting season. With a solid plan in place you can hit the ground running, which means you’ll be grilling, playing, relaxing, and just generally enjoying that brand new landscaping, before you know it.

So if you’re looking to give your outdoor space a little facelift this year, then check out these hot new trends in garden and patio design, as forecast for 2014 by some of the nation’s top landscaping experts.

1. Sustainability Is Here To Stay

It’s been gaining popularity and it’s still going strong! Sustainability is the future, and in terms of your yard that means native and drought-tolerant plants over traditional lawns or turfgrass, and generally a more low-maintenance approach to landscaping. Done right, with a mixture of native flowers and hardy shrubs, this low-impact landscaping is as aesthetic and economical as it is environmental.

2. The More Edible, The Better

Farmer’s Markets are swell and all, but there’s nothing that quite compares to eating food so fresh it’s still warm from the sun. Keep things pretty with a mix of both ornamentals and edibles, interspersing vegetal and decorative species. This way, you’ll be able to forage amongst the flowers! And around the front, banish the boring grass -- fruit, herb, and even vegetable gardens are all considered acceptable in a modern suburban front yard.

3. Create A Compost Corner

Composting -- the process of turning kitchen scraps and other organic matter into usable, mineral-rich garden dirt -- is one of the fastest-growing gardening trends for the new year. According to some experts, “composting is the new recycling.”

4. Native Rules!

Native plants are ideal because they’re so easy to maintain once they’ve been established, and these low-maintenance yards are one of the hottest trends in the coming year. Native plants are great for attracting local pollinators like butterflies, birds, and bees, and they’re already equipped to handle the surrounding climate. They’re ready to take on anything Mother Nature might throw their way, which makes things a whole lot easier for you.

5. Grow Your Own Booze

Cocktail culture is certainly en vogue, and so is growing your own fruit and herbs for said cocktails. However, that’s the entry-level stuff left to amateurs. The true enthusiasts are taking it all the way: growing hops to brew their own beer, and tending grapes to make their own wine. They call them “fermentation gardens,” and they’re all the rage!

Overall, the focus in landscaping design has switched from a fussy, overdone ideal, to a more simplified, authentic, and freeform feel. It’s a return to basics with an emphasis on elegance, wilderness, and quality over quantity. And, bonus points if your gardens produce something edible or drinkable as well.

So, are you ready to welcome the outdoor seasons? Start planning!

Sayward Rebhal writes for Networx.com.

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