(ARA) - As today's homeowners re-evaluate their spending, chances are they may be reconsidering any luxurious vacation plans. This year the back yard is a destination, as homeowners just might prefer to create their own personal paradise and put the extravagant getaway on hold.
Expect the following outdoor living and lifestyle trends to flourish in 2008.
Be Wise With Water
"Drip irrigation, rain gardens, rain barrels and drought-resistant plants will grow in popularity this year," says Amy Gath, outdoor living and gardening expert at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. "Accessories like rain barrels will no longer be the utilitarian 50-gallon drum, but will be a cool, functional fashion piece in the yard."
As homeowners re-evaluate water use, lawn-care habits may change. One way to help the lawn become more water-efficient is to mow high and often, never removing more than one-third of the grass blade. This helps grass absorb water and encourages deeper root growth, allowing the grass to save more water. Feeding regularly is also important to maintaining a healthy lawn that can absorb and use water more efficiently. Look for lawns to be kept fuller, instead of cropped short.
Several regions of the country are recovering from drought, so reviving the garden will be important this season. Start by clearing out dead annuals and cutting back damaged perennials to reveal green and healthy stems. Bed plants benefit from a layer of mulch to retain moisture, and if possible, revive potted plants in a tray of water until the soil's surface is wet.
Most homeowners don't have hours to spend pampering plants. Some may want the beauty of a garden, but not the time commitment. Easy-to-grow-and-care-for plants that require less spraying and less pruning are rising in popularity.
Plants such as rose of Sharon and butterfly bush are simple to maintain and great additions to any garden. Another tip is to use time-saving products like water-soluble plant food, pre-measured in a packet ready to be poured into a watering can.
No matter how convenient it is to buy veggies at the supermarket, there's a satisfaction that comes from enjoying homegrown produce. Vegetable and herb gardening are growing trends this year. But most gardeners won't be planting huge crops, and instead will do vegetable gardening in containers.
"Container gardening is hotter than ever," says Gath. "The smaller surface area in the container makes things easier to control." Not only are containers convenient, but a cluster of pretty little pots growing leafy herbs like basil or parsley makes an excellent decorative addition to any deck.
There's No Place Like Home
This year, homeowners will reflect their indoor style in outdoor decor. A hot trend right now is earthy, natural-toned plants punctuated by bright splashes of color. Flowers with invigorating hues like bright blue, sunny yellow, Rococo red and deep blue with violet undertones are striking against muted browns and greens. Many of these color palettes are inspired by fashion and interior decorating trends.
Now more than ever the back yard is the most popular place to retreat. People are designing and enjoying outdoor entertaining spaces as a true extension of their homes. Lawn and garden products and decor will become increasingly important to maintaining these valued spaces. For example, a fire pit is upgraded to an outdoor fireplace and the grill is swapped out for a mini-kitchen.
Loving The Locals
Local farmers' markets and flower stands are becoming increasingly popular as more gardeners discover the varieties of vegetable seedlings and native plant species local stands often offer. Most markets are open only during the summer, so take advantage of them for warm-weather planting. Courtesy of ARA content