Top Trends in Garden Design: What’s Hot and What’s Not in 2023

Curious to know what big themes are shaping garden design this year? At Floral & Hardy, we think 2023 will centre on a move towards planet-friendly gardening. Green-fingered people will discover new ways to encourage more wildlife onto their patches, trying innovative, sustainable ways to boost their soil and be water-wise.

From drought-tolerant plants to the return of the quintessential cottage garden, let’s explore the direction the garden world is taking in 2023.

The cottage garden makes a comeback

This year, the much-welcomed traditional cottage garden is returning but emerging as a stylised, brand-new trend. Previously, the cottage garden included a vegetable patch, a gorgeous mix of vibrant flowers, a herb garden and maybe a few hens on a patch of grass – all brilliant for insect life and biodiversity.

The modern cottage garden offers a whole lot more than just a pretty panorama. By creating diverse planting zones like mixed beds, mini meadows, nutrient-poor gravel areas, and compost-rich vegetable patches, it encourages biodiversity. Vibrant, fruitful and uplifting, this garden type serves as a sanctuary for wildlife, insects and, of course, you.

Gardening without peat

With peat-based bagged compost becoming forbidden in 2024, more people will find wood-based, eco-conscious compost alternatives. You can use seaweed to complement these alternatives or grow winter beans as green manure to fix nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil and create habitat and nutrients for wildlife.

You can grow comfrey Bocking 14 and use it as mulch or make it into eco-friendly weak liquid feed to support the growth of newly planted yields.

Plants that can withstand drought

As 2022 showed, erratic rainwater patterns, scorching summers, and water shortages are sounding increasingly familiar. So with this comes a growing movement towards sturdier, hardier plant palettes.

Designs will continue to prioritise plants that offer consistent colour and visual interest. However, there’ll be an emphasis on hardy plants, like Salvias that have a long flowering period and are excellent for pollinating wildlife and creepy-crawlies.

Elsewhere, more trees, particularly in urban plots, aid in mitigating the urban heat island effect and sanitising the air. Consider planting a crab apple tree that can withstand drought. In the winter, its miniature apples feed birds. In the spring, its blossom provides nutrition for insects.

Smart gardening

This year will see people learning that gardening with technology can save money and time, minimise their carbon impact, and produce better plants. Because gardeners are now partaking in workshops and courses online and sharing what’s happening on their plots, social media and gardening apps are becoming more integral.

These platforms help with the preparation and offer helpful reminders during the year for gardening tasks. Sharing information digitally also gives the bonus of shaping research projects and mapping plant health issues.

With the emergence of smart sprinklers that regulate irrigation in line with weather conditions and identify leaks and breaks and the snowballing popularity of mechanical weeders and smart mowers, technology is revolutionising gardening projects that might otherwise be laborious.

With the arrival of 2023, we can envisage gardening and technology working in harmony to resolve complications, improve the growing experience, and promote environmental sustainability.

Natural pools and ponds

You want your garden to be a fun, upbeat place where nature, plants and people can be mutually beneficial to each other. So, growing natural, chemical-free swimming ponds is an excellent way to create watery habitats for wildlife and have fun with loved ones.

This year, more people will incorporate ponds and water features for the extra wildlife they bring to an outside space and for endless hours of fascination, gazing into the small-scale universe.

Eco-friendly gardens

Climate change is becoming an increasingly integral factor in determining our garden choices. Over the past few years, we’ve seen floods, droughts and a general temperature increase in the UK. As such, there’s been a shift in garden design trends. Mostly, though, all of our gardening decisions – that’s the planting, creating and caring for our gardens – are being affected by the imperative demand to be more environmentally conscious, whether we’re selecting ethically sourced materials, creating more plant variety, or using less water.

Gardens with a gravel surface

We predict there’ll be a shift towards more gravel gardens and, as we mentioned earlier, drought-tolerant and gravel planting. What’s more, rock roses may make a comeback due to their ability to flourish in dry, hot conditions. Fast-growing, easy to maintain and with an abundance of flowers, they’ll grow over paths, walls, mixed borders and rockeries.

Gardens for mental health

Nowadays, people think differently about their gardens. Not only do they use them for entertaining and socialising outside, but they also use them for well-being and mental health purposes. Outdoor life connects you to nature.

The physical advantages of gardening are all things we appreciate much more in this post-pandemic world. And it’s affecting the garden designs we pick. These days, you’d probably choose a plant-rich haven over a basic outdoor room.


There’s likely to be a move towards the essential green stuff rather than a focus on heavily landscaped gardens. As environmental consciousness grows among us all, we’re adopting the ‘less is more’ approach in terms of hardscaping.

Placing big slabs with gravel in between, rather than traditional pointing methods, has numerous plusses. It entails less stone in total, creates a visually striking look (particularly when complemented by tasteful planting around the edges), and allows for superior drainage.

Darker hues with bursts of colour

This year, gardeners are going for darker shades of purples, blues and greys, combined with little pops of more vibrant colours. Smoky purples and blues in addition to gentle greens and greys are in, offering contrast.

There’ll be a shift towards dark foliage, such as intense brown leaves and dark, rich flowers, like the deep purple-black stalks and foliage of Actaea Brunette and the deep purple Aquilegia Black Barlow.

Play around with vivid pinks to add flecks of colour by including various species of Nerines or the gigantic dahlia Dahlia imperialis.

The takeaway

As we look ahead to the trends in garden design for 2023, it’s apparent that eco-friendliness and sustainability will remain key themes. We’ll notice a growing emphasis on natural materials, low-maintenance landscapes, and native plants.

And with technology in-built into our everyday lives, we’ll witness a growing trend towards smart gardens, with app-controlled lighting and automated irrigation systems. Whether you want to create a serene sanctuary or an entertainment hub, we at Floral & Hardy can help bring your vision to life. Talk to us now.

Copyright Floral & Hardy 2023. All rights reserved. Company No. 07900342.

40 Bloomsbury Way , Lower Ground Floor, London, WC1A 2SE


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