Grow Your Business Using Trends

By Katie McCoy Dubow

Trend spotting is part art; part science.

At the Garden Media Group, we assemble marketing research that reflects consumer preferences and inside trade information conducted globally, nationally and locally; and we also confer with trusted garden and design experts. Then, we project what new plants, products and lifestyle shifts are ahead.

Trends reports generate national, regional and local media buzz on hot new plants, products and garden landscape design. Media buzz fuels consumer demand that in turn drives retail sales.

According to the 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey conducted among landscape architecture professionals, low-maintenance gardens and landscapes, followed by outdoor living spaces for entertaining, top the list in customer requests.

Here’s what we at Garden Media Group see trending for 2013-14:

Porches are growing in popularity.
All photos provided by the Garden Media Group

 Raspberry Shortcake in square terra cotta.

 Border with dahlias

 Micro Forces mini cacti from Costa Farms

 All-purpose mix

 Rescue stink bug trapColor, color, color!


The spring 2013 Pantone Color Report, part of the Pantone Fashion + Home report, suggests bold and bright colors that are uplifting and soothing are trending. Colors such as metallic, blues, yellows, purples and shades of green mimic nature and evoke positive emotions and impact end-user purchases, particularly in the lawn and garden industry.

“The big news is that any shade of green is being treated as a neutral color in everything from fashion to home décor,” said Susan McCoy, president of Garden Media Group. “We’ve got green going on in the original ‘green industry’.”

James Farmer, landscape designer, is using purple as a new neutral. “From deep plum to lavender and gray, along with its complement, yellow, shades of purple are a popular color choice for a sophisticated yet cheerful landscape,” he said. “I am also seeing metallics on the horizon. Mix gold and silver with neutral browns and grays for a more upbeat, hip look in both small and large urban gardens.”

For flowers with a wide array of trendy color options, try Sun Parasol mandevillas. These tropical beauties demonstrate superior performance and add instant color in garden beds, containers, patios and window boxes.

Outdoor living

The porch is the new living room. Fire pits, fireplaces, kitchens, seating and dining areas, indoor/outdoor rugs, and weatherized outdoor furniture and garden art top the list of features homeowners want for the new room in their house, the porch. Terraces, patios, pergolas, decks, porches, and garden sculpture are growing in popularity.

“In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

The ASLA predicts that decorative water elements — including waterfalls, ornamental pools, and splash pools — will be in demand for home landscapes.

Light force

Speaking of porches, lighting is a huge trend. Lights are transforming gardening into a 24-hour activity, be it for leisure or serious growing. New lighting effects such as up-lighting, down-lighting and solar-powered lighting will allow people to spend more relaxing time outdoors when the sun goes down. The sun’s natural lighting allows flowers to exude their magical glow during the day but certain light installments and new glow-in-the-dark plant varieties allow us to enjoy gardens at night too.

“Landscapers are using lighting for creative garden displays,” said McCoy. “Public and private gardens are experimenting at night with mesmerizing lighting mixed with plant beds and arrangements.”

A natural and sustainable way to make your garden pop at night is to add bright white plants and bulbs to glisten at night under the reflection of the moon.

Easy as Sunday morning

Farmer explained that his clients are busy and always looking for low-maintenance gardening solutions. “I am growing a new ornamental raspberry called Raspberry Shortcake from the new BrazelBerries collection,” he said. “As an added benefit, berries are good for you, and my clients love that!”

These compact, thornless dwarf shrubs look great in the landscape but are perfect for patios, balconies or any size yard.

“Our new BrazelBerries collection will change the way gardeners think about berry bushes. Our family’s vision is to continue developing new varieties of ornamental berry shrubs that are first and foremost beautiful ornamental shrubs,” said Amelie Brazelton Aust, new products manager and second-generation owner for Fall Creek Farm & Nursery. “They also have to be simple to grow and produce an abundance of delicious berries.”

Another one of the easiest, low-maintenance gardening solutions is flower bulbs. From tulips and daffodils to canna and caladium, mass plantings make a statement in the landscape and decorate any garden space, large or small, with jewel tones. Landscapers who choose top-quality bulbs, such as those from Longfield Gardens, have ensured success, and clients’ landscapes are the first to show color in the spring and the last to die-back in the fall.


Sustainable design practices and elements are in demand as people identify themselves as caretakers of the earth’s resources. Replacing lawns with plants (i.e., xeriscaping) is huge, especially in the south said Farmer.

Meadows, and the wild-and-free look they offer, are very hip. “My clients are quickly replacing water-sucking, time-consuming lawns with native plants and wildflowers,” he added.

The ASLA survey concurs: 83% of homeowners are using native or drought-tolerant plants and 72.6% are reducing the size of their lawns.

Today’s consumers want an eco-wise garden that is low-maintenance, attractive, and drought resistant — but they need help selecting plants that conserve water and thrive during drought conditions.

For low-maintenance plants, Farmer recommends a palette of succulents used for green roofs, sedums and escheverias.

Gardening from the ground up

The eco-friendly, sustainable movement has spread to nearly every aspect of today’s society, but one area that is often overlooked, especially when it comes to gardening, is the soil.

A high-quality and nutritious growing environment doesn’t just happen in today’s landscapes. It’s crafted through the addition of growing mixes and amendments, producing a soil much improved over the often hard-packed, poor-quality “dirt” found surrounding many homes. Quality landscapers already know the value of amending the soil with soilless mixes such as Pro-Mix. The company now offers a line of eight consumers mixes for just about any garden project, from orchids to organic vegetables.

“We’ve developed a variety of soil solutions from organic mixes to specialized planting mixes,” said Chantal Duchesneau, marketing and communications director for Premier Tech Horticulture, makers of the Pro-Mix line of growing mixes. “Most of the mixes include an all-natural ingredient, MycoActive, a form of mycorrhizae which stimulates a plant’s root system to take up more nutrients and water to improve health and growth.”


“We’ve been following the environmentally friendly trend since the early 2000s,” said McCoy. “Today, being a good steward of the earth is a lifestyle choice.” The organic and natural movement is still going strong, and has moved into the lifestyle category for many gardeners.

Planting for the birds and bees has been in the Garden Media Trends Report for years, but now with the emphasis on pollinating insects, it has become top of mind for many gardeners. Showing up at the 100th Chelsea Flower Show this year were insect shelters, including a “bee hotel” aimed to show urban gardeners how they can attract bees without compromising on the look of the garden. Hole-drilled log sections, to shelter the bees, are interplanted with sempervivums and other succulents to create a decorative and functional garden feature.

Although honeybees are beneficial to gardens and yards, other creatures are far less welcome — such as aggressive stinging insects and plant-eating pests. But not everyone wants stinging insects in their gardens. Boomers and millennials alike are driving demand for natural solutions, particularly for weed and pest control that is safe for the environment, people and pets. Products like Rescue! eco-friendly and non-toxic traps lure and capture wasps, yellow jackets, flies and other insects with natural pheromones and attractants.

Up and coming

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2013 and 2014, the growing awareness of the interconnectivity between the forces of nature and the benefits of plants will influence what people want in their landscapes.

Katie McCoy Dubow is creative officer at Garden Media Group, a public relations firm that specializes in the lawn and garden industry. Garden Media offers innovative PR services designed to make their clients popular. View the complete Garden Media report at

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *