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Give your garden wow factor this summer

With summer around the corner, give your garden the wow factor by tapping into the latest trends.

By House & Garden South Africa | October 23, 2021 | Category

Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

With summer around the corner, give your garden the wow factor by tapping into the latest trends. Here’s a selection of what’s new and exciting -- from creating gardens that are functional and fun to planting living roofs and cultivating summer’s hottest garden colour: grey!

Functional and fun

With people spending a lot more time at home, the garden has become less of a dreamy escape and more of another “room” that’s part of the house, says Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth, whose outdoor service provides pre-vetted, trusted gardeners to help with all outdoor activities, from gardening to pool- and patio cleaning.

“The need for gardens to be both functional and fun will continue to rise as people make their outdoor spaces usable to sit and do work in, especially on warm days,” he says. Even if it’s just for a few hours at a time, who could say no to working in the peace of the garden, with butterflies flitting among the flowers?

“Anything that creates shade and protects you from the sun and your laptop from glare will dominate gardens and patios, and external electrical points or a portable power bank will be handy for charging laptops,” advises Alen. You may need a Wi-Fi extender, too, if you’re far from the router. A sturdy outdoor table will serve as a desk and an al fresco dining space. Strategically position it, and your chair, to keep the sun in front of, or to the side, of your working space to cut down on excess glare.

Even creating an outdoor entertaining area where you can relax over a braai with friends can be done with a nod to functionality. Position it within easy access of the kitchen so that you spend less time heading in and out of the house.

Monochromatic colours

Planting blocks of a single colour is a trend rising in popularity, says Alen. Choose a colour you like and plant swathes of it along a pathway, in garden beds or in a container. Go all out with bright colours like blue, purple and orange, or choose one of summer’s hottest statements: grey! Popular as an interior decor colour, it’s echoed outside in various shades, from deep charcoal to a calming, silvery grey.

Versatile grey works well everywhere and looks stunning offset by vibrant greenery and bursts of intense colour. Foliage with grey or silvery hues can help to brighten shady spots in the garden, and grasses with a silvery tinge planted in container pots bring in a calming feel. “You can also incorporate grey or silvery tones into your garden with trees that have leaves or bark with a silvery gray patina,” says Alen. At night, silvery foliage reflects the light of the moon and seems to glow, creating a sense of mystery and romance. Introduce charcoal grey or smoky ash shades in paving, fence paint, pebbles, and outdoor furniture, like shade umbrellas.

Living roofs

Living roofs are a trend on the rise, both globally and in South Africa. Also called eco or green roofs, they’re rooftops partially or completely covered with vegetation. Other than adding a beautifully natural feel to a home or outdoor structure, living roofs have a host of benefits, such as offering roof protection from the harsh sun and reducing a home’s indoor heating and cooling requirements, particularly in summer.

Green roofs also help wildlife flourish and keep cities cooler -- plus, once installed, they’re low maintenance. You definitely need a professional to install a living roof, as they’ll need to check if your roof can support the weight and will advise on the types of plants to grow. They’ll also need to ensure there’s adequate irrigation and drainage. Check online for living roof companies in SA.

Climate change gardening

Gardening for a changing climate and extreme weather conditions is a key trend that will continue to grow over the next few years.

“Select indigenous plants that are adapted to the soil, climate and rainfall in your region so that you can help your garden thrive,” says Alen. “It’s definitely more environmentally responsible to use plants that can largely fend for themselves. South Africa is a water-scarce country and is ranked as the 30th-driest in the world, so it pays to include sections of drought-tolerant plants that can survive on local rainfall.” To help conserve water, harvest rainwater in tanks, or any receptacle you have, to keep for watering your garden during dry spells.

Trees are trendy

Planting trees is another big trend for summer 2022. Their ability to absorb CO2 and give off oxygen is remarkable, but they also provide food and shelter for wildlife. Planted strategically, trees can provide privacy from neighbours and their shade will help cool your home, says Alen. “Do research to see what kind of tree will suit your region and the size of your garden. For small spaces, choose a tree with a non-aggressive root system, or consider growing a tree in a pot. Fruit trees are also making a fashionable comeback as more people join the grow-your-own movement, and even tiny balconies can support a lemon tree.”

Creating a garden, no matter how big or small, is important, says Alen. “Gardens may be manmade but they represent a natural environment and give us an opportunity to make a positive impact on the planet.” With so many people having discovered the joys of gardening over the past year, the future is definitely looking greener.