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We all have our favourite seasons, choosing to channel our efforts into creating the perfect outdoor space which brings different weather conditions and different plant types to life. What that means for the garden industry is that, from the off, there is a year round demand for varying products and seasonal plants, resulting in different deals and product launches driving the industry forward as we move from spring to summer and then onto the cooler autumn and winter months.
When it comes to creating and designing the perfect garden, modern consumers put as much time into the man-made products and accessories of today’s market as they do into growing the perfect array of seasonal plants and flowers, with gardens featuring combinations of fairy lights and flowers; garden benches and manicured trees. As such, the garden industry is one driven as much by commercial trend as by seasonal trend, with more and more consumers opting for the convenience of easy to maintain flowerpots and decking as opposed to wild gardens and natural grasses. That’s not to say that consumer appreciation for natural gardens has evaporated, with organisations like the RHS and National Trust proving the consumers’ love and passion for wildlife and natural outdoor spaces – however, when it comes to our own gardens, it seems as though convenience could be outweighing the value of completely natural surroundings.
The evolution of the garden industry
Once regarded as a hobby for retired and older people, there still exists today a stereotyped image of the average gardener – even if they are being joined by more and more young people and next generation gardening fans as consumers all around the world find more interest in the concept of growing their own produce and bringing to life something homegrown and nurtured.
The idea of accessories and ornamental products finding a home in the garden is one which very much stems from history – with some of the most ornate and ancient gardens still open to the public today filling their walkways and paths with statues and stone benches; ornate bridges and intricately designed pavilions and awnings. While this craze still very much existed until just a couple of decades ago, in recent years one of the biggest shifts has been in the way that consumers are approaching plants and natural greens themselves – moving towards native plants and those plants which are of some benefit to wildlife and insects as well as those which simply look good.
As such, the design of a modern garden takes as much time and planning as one of the ornamental garden spaces of the mid 1900’s – the main change is in the point and perspective of this planning, with modern landscapers and gardeners channelling focus into functionality as well as beauty.
Of course, when it comes to an industry as driven by natural climates and conditions as the garden industry, much of the evolution which occurs within the industry is as much a result of natural occurrences as consumer demand. There is a vicious circle among the gardening and plant market which requires a significant demand from consumers in order for any crop or plants to be planted and nurtured. Just like with a food product or a homeware design product, if the demand is not there then retailers and manufacturers will no longer create and sell it – and this pattern is much the same in the gardening industry, albeit a little deeper in its overhead meaning. Consumers who were once interested in the long term beauty of their gardens have now been replaced by individuals and generations who want to be able to reap and enjoy the benefits of their produce almost instantly. Even a product as viable and delicious as rhubarb flails under the simple idea that it cannot be harvested in the first year – leaving many consumers passing it by in favour of something more instantly productive.
And just as consumer demand affects the plants and trends which we use to fill our garden spaces, so too does weather and climate play its own part in determining what we can and cannot grow in any given season or year. The rise in understanding around annual and seasonal plants is slowly growing with garden centres becoming more mainstream and gardening shows becoming more popular, however the fact still remains that consumers who want vibrant colours and hordes of flowers in their garden all year round are very limited in their selection of what is available.
Top products in the garden industry
As identified above, there are two main branches of product when it comes to the garden industry – the natural plants and the tools which revolve around bringing gardens to life naturally, and the accessories and garden furniture products which transform the garden from an open space into something liveable and welcoming.
Both types of products have seen developments and shifts over the years, with consumer demands and trends changing the ways in which we fill our gardens; moving away from lone benches on stretches of grassland, and instead encompassing entire seating areas on decking; moving away from small garden ponds and instead opting for grand and ornate water fountains. Meanwhile, the plants themselves are also changing thanks to the rise in education around which plants grow best in different settings and areas, and which plants are most useful to pollinators and other wildlife.
As consumers take more of an interest in the aesthetics and functionality of their gardens, the garden industry has also expanded somewhat to encompass new solutions to those who don’t have the benefits of large outdoor spaces and gardens. One of the most common examples is the rise in large garden pots, troughs and planters which consumers can pack full of different plants, fruits and vegetables and stand them on hard surfaces, decking and patios – as well as balconies and in some cases even inside next to a window. Another innovative example, and one which has seen huge pick up across city spaces, is the rise in living walls – creating gardens which are constructed vertically rather than across a vast floor space, and which thus create community walls which can bring the functionality and beauty of natural plants into very urban sites and surroundings.
Other top products in the garden industry include:
- Garden tools, e.g. trowels, spades, forks, rakes
- Electrical goods, e.g. lawn mower, hedge trimmer
- Plant bulbs
- Plant seeds
- Soil and manure
- Plant food
- Pots, troughs, planters and other planting options to create layers
- Netting to stop animals from digging up your seeds and bulbs
- Benches, garden seating, garden furniture
- Watering can and easy access to running water
The list of products is endless and will likely depend on the way in which any given consumer chooses to use their garden.
Top retailers in the garden industry
For any consumer looking for garden tools, accessories or plants, the local garden centre is often a great solution which offers a range of different seasonal and annual plants, all designed to be taken home and planted into your own garden according to the tips and tricks provided on the information card next to each plant. In fact, garden centres have become increasingly popular spots for a variety of retail sectors, with many expanding their range to include gift solutions, indoor plants as well as outdoor plants, garden furniture and other homeware items, and seasonal goods as well as an on-site café. Growing into much more of a lifestyle store in recent years, garden centres tend to be operated as standalone stores, though the high street does still have a handful of large scale brand names which serve the market and adapt to ever-changing trends – both in physical stores and online. Some of these top names include:
- The Range
- Garden Stores Direct
The rise in the online garden store in particular meets a very specific demand but one which is very simple – more choice. One of the main challenges of garden centres is a lack of space, however by selling online retailers can provide their consumers with a much wider variety of choice and can break their products and plants down into various sectors including native species, exotic species, seasonal plants and year-round investments.
Trends in the garden industry
We have already looked at how the growing call for natives is not only affecting the way that consumers are using and filling their gardens, but is also creating a new demand in the professional garden services sector for gardeners and landscapers who focus on and deliver native garden plants and solutions to their clients. One of the major parts of this stems from the need for more sustainable living, with increased education around climate change and the state of the planet causing consumers to take action to protect out own native species as well as those on the other side of the world – and one of the easiest ways to do this is to plant natural native plants which provide vital food and suppliers to pollinators and local wildlife.
This links to another trend – the growing focus on the productivity of our gardens and how we can use our own outdoor spaces to grow fruit and vegetables for our own consumption. This again lends itself to the increase of sustainability across average homes, and also encourages a shift in the consumer mindset which views gardens as places of great vibrance and value as well as just somewhere to plant a few flowers and enjoy in the summer. The rise in home grown fruits and vegetables is also a nod to the rise in veganism and the idea that eating plants and keeping our diets green is one of the best ways in which we can help our own bodies and our planet to thrive. Retailers are increasingly meeting this need not only by supplying additional information and tips on how best to grow fruit and vegetables in our plots of land, but also in stocking more varieties, and even in creating grow-you-own kits for children so that consumers can start to educate their children from a young age on the importance of growing and eating fresh, clean foods.
Despite this focus on the productivity of the average garden, there is still an ever-growing trend around garden furniture and what consumers can do to ensure that their garden and outdoor space becomes a continuation of the styling and design they have brought to the interior of their home. With so many homes now keeping their designs and styles minimal and neutral in line with the modern trends, garden furniture is now becoming more and more natural in its appearance – using wooden frames and soft neutral coloured fabrics to tone down the presence of manmade products and instead ensure that the garden as a whole becomes about its natural presence rather than what is placed inside it for decoration. This is known by many as the inclusion of the ‘fifth room’, with consumers choosing to upgrade their gardens as part of a complete home overhaul rather than simply leaving them as they are and allowing the untidy outdoors to impact on a shiny new interior.
A great deal of the renewed focus on the garden as a key space to enjoy comes from mainstream media and the kinds of television shows and radio programmes which introduce consumers to new and innovative ways of using and enjoying their gardens. Popular examples like Groundforce, Countryfile and even fictional radio show The Archers all draw vast attention to outdoor living and provide consumers with inspiration and ideas around how best they can utilise their own outdoor space.
Add this inspiration and renewed focus to the trending snaps on social media which showcase beautiful gardens and award-winning home grown vegetables, and then combine it with the industry’s wide range of retailers and product lines all featuring their own deals and seasonal discounts, and you end up with an industry which is ripe for growth – no matter how sunny and warm, or rainy and cold it is outside.