These Outdoor Design Trends Will Dominate in 2021

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After nearly a year of confinement, our outdoor spaces have become sanctuaries of solace and sanity. Naturally, landscape design has become top of mind. Even those who call city apartments home are finding ways to integrate the gentle presence of nature into their dwellings.

“The pandemic has reinforced the idea that horticulture is therapy,” says New York City–based landscape designer Todd Haiman. “Green spaces in cities and private outdoor space are increasingly valued to improve health and mental wellbeing.”

We asked Haiman—along with landscape designers Renée Byers, John Hart Asher, Holly Kuljian, Christine Ten Eyck, and Fernando Wong—for their predictions on the outdoor design trends that will dominate our spaces in 2021.

An outdoor entertaining space designed by Frances Merrill for a client outside Los Angeles.

“We’re witnessing a significant and exciting shift away from the traditional static plantings and unused lawns that have dominated American front yards and properties at large,” says Holly Kuljian of Pine House Edible Gardens. “We’re seeing multigenerational family members using every square inch of the garden at all hours of the day. With clients taking Zoom meetings in the hammock or learning the joy of pruning their fruit trees, we’re called to look to the oft-forgotten front yard for additional outdoor space.”

Kuljian and her team are seeing increased demand for dynamic activations such as group seating for neighborhood gatherings, sports courts, kids play areas, and sculptural features, as well as vegetable beds, mini orchards, medicinal and tea plantings, and beehives.

“With families of all ages at home so much more now, there is a renewed interest in kitchen and vegetable gardens,” Renée Byers says of the edible garden trend. “The potager, where both flowers and kitchen herbs and vegetables can be combined, is making a big comeback. We locate kitchen gardens in sunny spots as close to the house as possible and integrate them into the landscape with paths and fencing, so they are integral parts of the composition.”

A Mexican estate’s amenity-filled outdoor area by designer Ken Fulk and architect Victor Legorreta.

“We’re getting requests for covered outdoor living areas that have all of the comforts of inside on the outside,” says Fernando Wong, whose latest landscaping projects include the Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale. “People want family spaces with everything from big-screen TVs to pizza ovens and billiard tables. They want their homes to look like and have the amenities of the resorts that they used to travel to for vacations.”

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