August 9-11, 2022 | Wisconsin Center | Milwaukee, WI

2022 Trends to Watch Out For: Outdoor Spaces

Though the front and back yard trends of 2022 take a variety of forms, they all have one thing in common: using available outdoor space as more than an expanse of grass to tend to. Whether turning a porch or patio into another “room” or placing bird feeders and planting wild gardens to bring nature closer to home, garden centers can provide examples of these new outdoor trends and inspiration for consumers.

As Americans begin to come together in person once again, they are doing so not so much in living rooms and dining rooms, but in back yards and on porches, decks, and patios. In this new social landscape, the yard becomes not just a piece of property, a frontier separating one house from the next, but an extension of the home, a part of the living space. Front yards and back yards can be seen as additional rooms for relaxation, leisure, and entertaining.

In addition, this blurring of boundaries extends the home into nature and brings nature into the home, whether in an urban, suburban, or rural environment. It’s a change in our approach to the back yard associated with the sustainable gardening trend [link to sustainable gardening article].

Front Yard Trends
The home has long been seen as a canvas for self-expression. When looking at it that way, you can imagine the front yard is a face you show to the world. This is a view that has become increasingly common, helped along by social media. According to the Garden Media Group, mentions of “front yard” and “front porch” reached a five-year high on social media in 2021. It’s important not only to stock products that make the back yard a cozy, relaxing refuge, but the front yard, as well.

In the front yard, you can expect the “cottagecore” aesthetic to go mainstream in 2022. The term denotes a type of idealized rural lifestyle often depicted on social media—Instagram, TikTok, and Tumblr, specifically—one that evokes lush English gardens, bountiful flowers and climbing vines, peasant dresses, and a sort of whimsical, mystical, impressionistic pastoral landscape. But it won’t be confined to an online subculture for much longer.

Theoretically, it is an expression of a desire for a sustainable, harmonious, self-sufficient way of living, developed and popularized by young women, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s easy to see why the style has filtered into mainstream culture. Practically, it manifests in pastimes such as macrame, cross-stitch, houseplants, flower gardens, and other activities typically associated with grandmothers rather than women in their 20s. Imagine wild gardens full of wildlife-sustaining native species, rustic stone pathways, and trellises wrapped in greenery.

We will see more structured unions of home and nature in front yards, as well, in the form of indoor-outdoor potted plants, container gardens, and topiary. Cloud pruning, in which shrubs, hedges, and trees are pruned in organic shapes resembling clouds, is an emerging trend in landscaping.

Moving toward the house, the front porch serves not just as an entryway, a brief stop on the journey to the living room, but as a destination in its own right. Furniture isn’t just for the back yard anymore. Couches and comfortable seating, along with the traditional porch swing, make the front porch a great place to relax and socialize, rain or shine. Potted plants and seasonal wreaths create an even more inviting atmosphere. Potted boxwoods look great on a porch, and a pair of sweet bays can beautifully frame a doorway. Both plants thrive indoors and outdoors, offering some seasonal versatility.

Back Yard Trends
On the other end of the house, the trend of turning outdoor spaces into an extension of indoor spaces will be even more pronounced. To maximize use of space, a large yard can be separated into smaller sections: a space for kids to play, a space for adults to relax, a space for meals, a space for entertaining guests.

The outdoor kitchen takes this division of outdoor space into additional living spaces to the next level. Rather than just a grill and some chairs on a slab of concrete, homeowners are transforming their patios into full outdoor kitchens and dining rooms. The garden center can become the place to go not only for outdoor furniture but for high-end grills with stovetop burners and all of the associated utensils. And after the meal, family and friends can retire to chairs and couches arranged around a fire pit. These outdoor spaces can be just as lavishly furnished as the dining and living rooms inside the house, with companies like Castelle and Summer Classics offering high-end luxury outdoor furniture and Jensen Outdoor producing more affordable but still stylish products.

Beyond the patio, bird feeders and birdbaths are rising in popularity once again, alongside flowers that attract wildlife, especially pollinators. It’s part of a renewed interest in birdwatching, which, as with many of these trends, is a simple and accessible way to reconnect with nature.

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