The top outdoor living trends in 2018

Long days and warm nights invite you to make the most of your outdoor living areas. But these expert tips will ensure your outdoor space sees the attention it deserves year round.

When it comes to designing a home’s outdoor space, Sean Dowling, founder of Bayon Gardens, keeps three key things in mind.

“Movement is the first thing I consider,” he says. “How will people and pets move through the space? How will the wind flow? How will the natural light travel?

“This determines where trees, privacy screens and features are best placed and allows the energy flow to feel right.”

Neutral colour palettes are made inviting with pops of subdued colour. Picture: Lisa Cohen. Styling: Ruth Welsby

The second, he says, is function. “Create a purpose for people to move through the site. Consider the activities you would like to be doing outside – be it cooking, reading, swimming or entertaining – and ensure your design ideas serve the structural requirements needed.”

Last but not least, Sean refers to the architecture of a home. “The landscape must have full connection with the look and feel of the house. Colour palette and material selection can be chosen to make the indoor-outdoor integration seamless.”

Following these principles will ensure you end up with an outdoor area to stand the test of time, but incorporating the latest trends below will have you and your guests lounging around in the outdoors until the sun goes down (and then some).

Grey is the new black

Colour palettes have remained rather simplistic over the last few years, and for a very good reason.

“Creams and greys such as Colorbond’s monument and woodland grey are versatile and sit well with both hard and soft landscaping,” says Sean.

Of course, a splash of colour is a fantastic way to personalise and bring character to any space, and should certainly not be ignored.

“Adding one vibrant colour to a soft or versatile colour palette can create interest with ease. This can be done with cushions, wall art, walls, chairs or anything that you want to pop from the rest.”

Cushions and wall art add vibrancy to this greyscale garden. Picture: Tim Turner. Design: Bayon Gardens

Timber takes the backseat

Homeowners will take a step back from the archetypal timber deck in 2018, and start to embrace more raw textures.

“We’ll be seeing more raw and recycled material palettes in landscape design and construction. Rusted metal sheets, recycled red brick, reclaimed timber and natural stone mixed together can offer a lot to a space,” explains Sean.

The same applies to outdoor furniture, too. “We’re seeing a move towards recycled furniture as people are becoming more aware of their footprint on the planet.”

Year-round entertaining

While Sean can confirm that outdoor entertaining areas aren’t going anywhere in 2018, he can reveal that new and improved products and pioneering design ideas are causing an exciting shift in the typical table and chairs.

“Sunken fire pit areas are certainly a highly-requested garden feature,” says Sean. “Not only do they attract guests to one focal area, but they’re especially good in smaller backyards as they give the illusion of a larger space.”

“One of our most requested design requirements is motorised pergolas and awnings which can be operated via a remote control.”

Greenery is good

As people start to move away from expansive, grassy terrain in favour of outdoor kitchens, pools and sunken entertaining areas, we’re having to get a bit more creative when it comes to adding or enhancing your green space outside.

Spider Plant. Picture: Far East Flora

Garden walls continue to gain momentum with Boston ferns, devil’s ivy and baby’s tears all thriving in the vertical environment. Garden walls appear particularly striking behind pools and in smaller outdoor rooms and are a stunning way to make the most of small spaces in inner-city homes.

“Espaliered fruit trees are a clever way to hide unwanted walls or to save space in small areas, too. This will become increasingly popular as the courtyard replaces the backyard,” says Sean.

Smart gardens

Much like almost every other aspect of your home life, you can now control your backyard at the touch of a button.

“Wifi-enabled gardens are becoming very popular as technology continues to improve. Lights, irrigation and pools are a few things that are now fully operational from your phone or tablet,” says Sean.

Heat up your spa on your commute home, water your gardenias from the office on a dry day, or program your fairy lights to turn on automatically as the sun goes down.

Vertical gardens elevate even the smallest of outdoor areas. Picture: Think Outside Gardens

Article repurposed from The top outdoor living trends in 2018 by Katie Skelly. Author at