It’s 2016 and the world has started to realise how rapidly we have lost connection to the very nature that has created us. We’ve began to acknowledge how our thirst for development and progress has trumped the foundations of our existence – the Earth – the only home we have.
We cannot regress to account for our failure to include nature in our plans. But we can use our knowledge to preserve and integrate it into our society, so that it becomes once more a part of our lives.
The Garden Media Group has prepared a fantastic report that describes new trends in bridging people back with nature by using technology and advancements in information and entertainment systems to educate and collectively increase our preservation efforts. This post will explore the hottest trends in the garden for 2016. Read on for many tips, ideas and inspiration.
1. Connected Greenery – Technology Can Enhance The Gardening Experience
We live busy lives. Especially in metropolises, like London, time is not an expendable resource. Many urban dwellers are interested in gardening, but the knowledge barrier for successfully cultivating and caring for plants prevents them to make the first step.
Fact is that gardening is not an elementary hobby. It requires you to have a moderate understanding of how specific plants live and what they need in order to complete a healthy life cycle. Of course, the big city isn’t their natural habitat, so extra preparations should be taken to emulate a friendly environment. This takes a lot of reading, and of course time, which people really don’t have.
Instead of hitting the books though, you can use your smart devices (phones, tablets, watches, etc.) to assist you in your gardening quests. Personal assistants, time and task management apps have been a smashing success on the mobile market. Naturally, there are apps for the trendy gardener as well. Here are some you can explore:
Sprout it is a free app that offers gardening guides that are customised for the plant, soil, local climate, location and other important factors.
Each plant has it’s own panel that displays sun water and soil requirements, as well as general info
about it’s life cycle.
You can make an educated decision of what, where and how many you should sow, without reading a textbook first. The app offers reminders, schedules and status reports based on your progress, so you never miss a task.
You can have it on iOs, Android and the web. Check out the full review at The Next Web.
mySoil is an app developed by the British Geological Survey and gives you access to an extensive map of Great Britain’s and Europe’s soils. The app can use your phone’s GPS technology and show you exactly what kind of soil you are walking on. The information is constantly being updated to reflect accurate soil pH, texture, depth, organic matter and temperature.
Any user can also contribute by adding information about the soil at their location, including photo.
mySoil can be very useful to gardeners and also for scientists and researchers who need precise information on the go.
You can have it on iOs and Android. Learn more at the BGS official website.
2. NaTECHure – Virtual and Augmented Reality to Engage Kids with Gardening
We’re on the brink of making virual reality and augmented reality accessible to everyone. From the first fully immersive headsets to your pocket, 2016 will be very hot on VR. It will bring a new level of interaction between us and our devices.
Compensating for the harm we’ve caused to mother nature will take many years, generations even. To make sure our efforts don’t go to waste, we must take responsibility for how our children perceive this world and teach them the values we lost and try to regain.
The second part of the issues is that the last two decades humans grown more and more sedentary. The human body needs movement, but we’ve minimised our outdoor activities. A lifestyle without regular physical activities is the cornerstone of obesity, diabetes and many more health conditions. This is especially important for growing and developing children.
Using technology, we can treat both these problems at the same time. VR and augmented reality in engaging children with nature can be a very positive trend throughout 2016. Here are a few interactive apps to engage kids in outdoor activities:
Geoaching is an astonishingly fun way to create adventures everywhere you go – еven the same block you pass by on your way to work or school. This phone app (and community) allows you to discover hidden stashes all over the world. You choose a stash pinned on the map and Geocaching uses GPS to guide you to the location where it’s hidden.
From there, you have to do a bit of searautoching in the bushes, or behind that funny stone over there and find the container. When you do, sign the logbook and exchange the token left by the adventurer before you (if you want). Then, you’re off to the next one.
You can have it on iOs, Android and Windows Phone. Additionally, there is the whole community on the official website..
Leafsnap is a new way of exploring the wilderness. The free application uses the camera of the phone to snap a photo a tree leaf. Then, image recognition software analyses the photo and provides a list with suggestions for what the tree might be. Although not perfect, this app is perfect to help your child learn more about nature. It offers games and backlogs of your photos, so you can build albums, catalogues or just have fun.
The app is developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. There are two versions – one for the US and the UK.
The apps are constantly being updated with new species and better software, so it’s only going to get better. Check out the full review by Common Sense Media.
You can have it on iOs.Visit the official website for more information.
My Garden Answers
My Garden Answers is a crowd-sourced advice app. You can snap a photo of the plant in question and get instant help to identify it. If you’re unsure about your plant’s health, post a photo of any leaf damage or spots and the community will tell you if there is anything wrong. Many apps offer similar functionality, but my Garden Answers stands out for its community and expert advice given.
In conjunction with its online shopping website, the app will also identify local brick-and-mortar garden shops in your area.
You can have it on iOs and Android. Visit the official website for more information.
3. Welltality – Living Greenery Indoors
Living walls have become a trendy topic in interior design. Not only are they incredibly fresh, they are miraculously beneficial to our own health. There is nothing better than something that’s both pleasant and helpful.
It’s scientifically proven that a green environment influences our recovery and rest rates. Simply painting our bedroom with a deep natural green improves our sleep and we feel more rested. The effect increases exponentially, when it’s not just a colour, but a living breathing plant “staring” back at us. We’ve made a small selection of plants that are excellent for your bedroom.
Everybody knows plants filter the air absorbing CO2 that has increased saturation in the big city and provide us with more oxygen. However, we don’t easily recognise how that affects us. Being around plants increases our concentration and memory. We perform better, faster and with higher quality and accuracy on any ongoing task when surrounded by plants and flowers.
Flowers in our work environment improve our motivation, lower stress levels and help us feel more energetic and vigorous.
This is the reasons many institutions are adopting a trend to build living walls, thick gardens and decorate their establishments with as many flowers and plants as appropriate.
Hospitals include living walls in patient rooms to accelerate recovery rate, help people feel more relaxed in a typically stressful period.
Educational institutions include plants to boost the children’s ability to concentrate and keep up with the activities, instead of wonder off and lose focus.
Even hotels are adopting this model to improve the stay of their guests and allow them to feel better and more relaxed in their establishments.
This trend can also enter your very own home. Although it requires maintenance, a living wall can help you solve many problems and help you feel amazing at home.
4. Nightscapes – Light and Sound Experience Backyard Illumination
This next gardening trend is less about re-learning to live with nature or improving our health. However, it’s about something as equally important in our lives – recreation and entertainment.
Modern design and technology advancements allow us cheap and easy access to a wide variety of products related to light and sound effects. A green garden is the best during the day, but in warm summer evenings, nothing is more relaxing and entertaining at the same time than your own audio-visual show in the back garden.
Trends have moved from minimalistic aesthetics to more bold designs and incorporate many products that create a colourful ambience around the garden. Your imagination is the limit.
Here are some cool garden lighting ideas:
- Filimin: A Wi-Fi Enabled Touch Light That Connects You (KickStarter) $60.00
- Solar Rock Outdoor Lights – Set of 4 (Argos) £14.99
5. Living Layered landscapes
Traditional garden designs include a very tamed, very organised layout. Gardens usually offer little more than a few well picked trees and meadows of perennials. The hands of an experienced gardener can transform any garden into a breathing artwork. While we would expect it from the Buckingham palace, you might appreciate something a little less posh in your own garden. Truth is, when you exert such close control over nature, it somehow loses part of its splendor.
The real beauty lies in the chaotic randomness of life. Layered landscapes are a rising trend in gardening that closely emulates how trees and plants develop naturally in the outdoors. We know that in nature, plant life follows a silent harmony. Forests form in several layers – the top is taken by the highest trees. Lower in the middle, there are shrubs and bushes. On the bottom ,there are weeds and flowers. Intertwining between them all are creeping vines, mushrooms and critters.
Open-minded gardeners are turning their eyes on bridging nature into their backyard. Using a careful selection of plants, people create garden designs on three layers. These spectacular designs go beyond aesthetics and achieve some very desired in the modern world results.
Layered landscaping puts nature in your backyard. A traditional, clear cut design feels urban, city-like. A rich and dense layered garden makes you forget about the trillion tons of concrete on the other side of the fence. Tall trees, thick bushes and a variety of lower level weeds can do marvels to hide the city and provide you with your own private oasis.
It’s also an effective filter for urban pollution. Street dust and exhaust can be kept at a distance with a thick enough living barrier to absorb the CO2 and hard particles.
You will create a critter friendly space. If you’re a naturalist you won’t mind a few bugs and squirrels around you. A thick and dense garden will attract a lot of wildlife – insects, rodents, birds, even an occasional snake. If you’re not prepared or keen on sharing your garden, you might best stick with more traditional designs. However, we expect to see wilder and denser gardens in 2016.
6. Petscaping & Dogscaping – Safe Garden for Your Pet to Play
Considering you’ve taken the bold approached and have put MORE life in your garden, you should make sure it’s safe for your pets. Your dogs and cats will sniff, eat, dig and rub everything in the garden.
You have to make sure there is nothing that will harm them while playing. Most common garden pests are not harmful to pets. However, if you use chemicals and pesticides to do population control, you can accidentally hurt your trusty sniffer as well.
It’s best to turn to more natural remedies. The savvy gardener knows that there are better ways to control pest populations using their natural predators. Ladybugs, lacewings, praying mantises and domestic spiders are just to name a few friendly helpers.
If you attract birds to your garden, they will help out tremendously by munching on pests like slugs, snails and aphids.
Petscaping is not really a gardening trend on it’s own, rather than an offshoot of the real trend – organic pest control. However, we have to note that people pay more attention to their pets needs and this happy trend will continue strong in 2016. Get to know your organic gardening, so you can create the best and safest playground for the pooch.
7. Brownscaping – The Strive to Garden with Less Water
Water conservation and pollution prevention are two of the hottest topics in 2016. One question continues to dominate not only domestic gardening, but industrial agriculture in every place in the world. How can we grow things with less water ?
We’ve learned in the past few years that water, although renewable is a finite resource. We’re consuming more water than the Earthly processes can filter and replenish. Up to 70% percent of all water that we use goes for crop irrigation.
Cities in dry areas of the world – most prominently California – make a great effort to conserve water and minimise consumption. People still want to have gardens, but their regular maintenance would waste too much water. To tackle the issue, garden designers use special layouts and efficient growing techniques to achieve more greens with less water.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
Group plants based on water dependencies. That way you can use your water where it’s worth. Trees and deep root plants need less water in general and can get by with little irrigation. Lawns guzzle up tremendous amounts of water and is ever-hungry for more. Make a cautious decision when you choose to turf a wide area.
Use mulch generously. It takes the heat from the sun and keeps the soil relatively cool. That minimises evaporation and preserves the moisture in the ground.
Invest in tools to measure and keep track of your irrigation, so you don’t use more water than you have to. Here are some apps to help you track your water usage:
Dropcountr is a handy app that connects with your utilities at home. It allows you to monitor how and how much water you use in your home. With advanced tracking and reporting, Dropcountr can help you identify where you waste water and how much it costs you. It offers tips for water conservation and estimated goals of water usage to reach efficiency. Additionally, the tool has statistics for the usage around your area to see how you’re doing compared to your neighbours. It’s not nice to gloat, but a little competition never hurt nobody.
If you’re big on water collecting, Rain Harvest is a free calculator that can help you. It has a simple interface that allows you to input the basic variables:
- Catchment surface area in square feet or square meters
- Rainfall in inches or millimeters
- Surface efficiency as a percentage
- Number of collection points
Select plants that consume less water. The simplest step is actually the most efficient. There is a vast diversity of plants all over the world. Many of them have naturally evolved to require less water in dry regions on rocky or sandy soil. Take an educated pick and solve your watering problems altogether. Better Homes and Gardens offers a nice selection of water-wise plants for your garden design.
In the UK, the issue is less significant due to our local climate. However, you can still be mindful of your environment and take the conservationist’s path.
Gardening gets smarter. With technology we enable a more environmentally friendly approach to gardening. We take decisions based on scientific knowledge rather than guessing. Our smart devices allow us to tap into the entire human knowledge about how to grow and maintain our gardens and how to benefit the most out of them.
And for the times when you want to have the perfect garden, but are overwhelmed with all your other responsibilities, your phone can book you a gardening service in half a minute. We tailored our Go Fantastic to always provide you with a quick and reliable booking for all your gardening needs. You can get it on iOS.
People are returning to nature. After decades of ultra urban development, we seek the serenity and tranquillity of wildlife, even if it’s only in our backyard. Our efforts to reconnect with the environment are growing and the Internet helps deliver the important message.