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Top 5 Landscape Trends for 2018

Look for experiential, eco-friendly, colorful outdoor spaces

Produced by Sally Finder Weepie

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) is predicting both fun and function to rise to the top in the coming year when it comes to outdoor spaces.

“The top 2018 landscape trends reflect an evolution of the outdoor living trend we’ve seen grow in popularity over the past few years,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP. “Stimulated by a healthy economy, homeowners and property managers are innovating their landscapes in fun new ways. Recognizing the tremendous value that beautiful and functional landscapes bring to homes and commercial properties, today’s landscapes are built to last so they can be used and enjoyed through all the seasons, year after year.”

In 2018, NALP predicts the following five trends to influence landscape planning and design:

1. Experiential landscape design.

Photo courtesy of Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, MD, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Today’s landscapes are thoughtfully and creatively built for living, working, and playing. They bring together form and function for a quality outdoor experience. More residential landscapes feature designated areas for cooking, dining, relaxing, and even working outdoors, armed with fully integrated outdoor lighting and audio/visual systems for a multisensory and multiuse experience, day or night. The experience often begins at the entrance, with beautiful lawns, plantings, and design elements that make a welcoming or wowing first impression.

2. Climate-cognizant landscaping.

Photo courtesy of Designs By Sundown, Littleton, CO, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Unpredictable weather patterns call for landscape enhancements that withstand extreme conditions and allow spaces to be enjoyed on unseasonably cool or warm days. More landscapes are planned with the unexpected in mind. Pergolas with retractable canopies can protect outdoor areas in wind, rain, and snow; outdoor heaters and fireplaces keep patios comfortable on chilly nights; and hardy hardscape materials can handle drastic temperature fluctuations.

3. Emphasis on water management and conservation.

Photo courtesy of Phil Allen, Brigham Young University and the National Association of Landscape Professionals 

A buzzword for years, sustainability in landscaping is more than a trend. It influences how landscapes are created and maintained now and in the years to come. In particular, the integration of eco-friendly watering practices are expected to continue to take off in 2018, including the use of plants native to a region (which generally use less water), xeriscaping (planning a landscape to use low-water use plants), and smarter irrigation technology.

4. Enhanced equipment and technology.

Photo courtesy of R.P. Marzilli & Co., Inc, Medway, MA, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals

The latest yard tools on the market consider ease of use and storage while incorporating more eco-friendly innovations. Many lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and similar equipment feature low or no emissions, are battery-powered, and are quieter. Many lawn and garden tools are also designed to stack or fold to fit in the garage or shed. Professionals are also integrating more technology—mobile apps, 3-D modeling and drones—into landscape planning. 

5. Plants in playful colors and patterns.

Photo courtesy of Ed Castro Landscape, Inc., Roswell, Ga, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals

While the simple elegance of greenery was all the rage last year, 2018 will see a renewed interest in adding pops of color and whimsy to landscapes. With Ultra Violet named the Color of the Year by Pantone, a leading provider of color systems and an influencer on interior and exterior design, landscape professionals expect to integrate more violets, verbena, clematis, iris, and other purple flowers into landscapes. “Patterned” plants are also getting their time in the garden spotlight, as these unique plants are revered for their intricate details, such as striped leaves or brightly colored veins.

The voice of the landscape industry, NALP develops its trends reports based on a survey of its members and by drawing from the expertise of landscape professionals representing various regions of the U.S. who are at the forefront of outdoor trends. The landscape trends are also influenced by broader lifestyle and design trends. For more information or to find a qualified landscape professional in your area, visit