Plant a garden for happiness this summer! Summer 2021 will be a season spent outside in the garden. All around the world people have discovered the joys of gardening and adding green to their lives, and the coming months will see both novice and experienced gardeners diving even deeper into gardening activities.

Whether your garden is big or small, here are five gardening trends that will bring even more happiness into your outdoor space, from Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth, whose outdoor service provides pre-vetted, trusted gardeners around the country.

Raised garden beds

Many people are opting to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables in raised garden beds, especially if they are short on space or would like to add a greener feeling to a paved area. “If you plant flowers or small trees in them they can really be an eye-catching feature,” says Alen. Easy to maintain, they’re perfect for creating a small kitchen garden for anyone wanting to tap into the grow-your-own movement. Raised gardens are also helpful for older people to be able to carry on gardening, as less bending is required to tend to them.

You can buy ready-made wooden boxes to plant raised beds in, or build permanent structures out of bricks. Think out of the box for containers you could use, like concrete blocks and bathtubs. “Your garden is a playground for creativity,” says Alen. “Just make sure the container you choose doesn’t expose the soil and plants to toxic chemicals from paints, varnishes, or other finishes.”

Wildlife gardening and bees

Gardening in a way that attracts wildlife will continue to gain traction this summer. The sound of birds trilling their happy song in the gardens is a joyous one, but gardeners are now also paying attention to creating friendly spaces for other wildlife, such as owls, butterflies, bees, insects and even bats.

“From building bug hotels to setting up a bat or owl box, you can attract and sustain wildlife by making sure your garden has a ready supply of what they love and need,” advises Alen. “Turn your garden into a wildlife oasis by researching what you’ll need to feed wildlife, how to provide water sources, and how to create cosy habitats and hideaways for nesting and breeding. And definitely adopt organic gardening practises in all areas of your green endeavours,” he says.

Use all space available to garden

Ideas for small gardens have been in demand for several years, but are set to rise due to a brigade of newbies hitting the gardening scene during the pandemic. With reduced space available, people are experimenting with all sorts of small-space gardening ideas for growing edible plants, with Pinterest reporting a 600% increase in searches for ‘homemade garden boxes’, as well as a 600% increase in searches for ‘DIY small garden ideas vegetables’.

Vertical gardens, container gardening, and micro-kitchen gardens are popping up in nearly every kind of home space — from balconies, patios and window sills to driveways and side alleys. Be creative and make the most of what you have, says Alen. “For growing your own, mix edible plants into existing beds and borders, and choose plants that yield a lot in small spaces, like tomatoes, lemons, peas and microgreens. Herbs like rosemary, mint and basil are also ideal for limited spaces.”

Leafy living walls

The trend for lush greenery in any kind of space just keeps growing, as proven by the surge in popularity of living wall planters. “These planters are a great way to introduce greenery into any indoor or outdoor area, and refresh dull and boring spaces,” says Alen. The planters can easily be fitted onto any solid area, such as a garden fence or an unsightly boundary wall. Simple to maintain, even for novice gardeners, they are gorgeous to look at and have the added benefit of improving air quality.

Gardens to relax in

More than ever before, our gardens have become the space we escape to, and relax in. Whether it’s a small balcony garden or a family-sized backyard, people are turning to their gardens to find their Zen. What could be more bucolic than lying in a hammock under the blue sky, with the trickle of a tranquil water feature in the background?

Transforming your outdoor space into a chill-out haven can be as simple as having a small decked area where you can do yoga, or comfy padded outdoor furniture to sink down into. Transition the space from day to night with a firepit — ideal for toasting marshmallows over hypnotic flames as you sit and swap stories with friends. String up solar fairy lights for a magical feel and, if you really want to take it up a notch, invest in outdoor beanbags designed for serious ‘me-time’ lounging and weatherproof speakers.

Just sitting in your garden, breathing fresh air and listening to nature’s melody around you will help you relax and unwind. A Harvard report states that spending time outdoors is a massive mental health boost for people who are stressed, and that simply interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use.

“There are so many health benefits of gardening, from the physical exercise we get as we pant and dig and weed, to lowering stress. But the importance of gardening extends beyond physical health,” says Alen. “There’s an old old Chinese proverb that says: ‘He who plants a garden, plants happiness.’ Gardens reconnect us to the cycle of nature, giving us a harmonious space where we can relax, reflect and restore.”

[Supplied article]