Out with the old

Departments - Straight Talk | Honest insights from an IGC expert

Show customers how décor tweaks can make the biggest differences to their dwelling spaces.

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November 3, 2020

As customers spend more time at home in their backyards, they’re confronted with outdated or worn patio furniture. Provide them with the tools and inspiration to create their own outdoor oasis.
PHOTO © Sisoj | ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

When it comes to garden décor trends, consumers seem primarily focused on living in their landscapes, and anything related to helping them relax at home. Décor trends seem less about simple aesthetics right now, and more about making one’s garden more beautifully functional. With all the extra time we are all spending at home living, working and learning, it is no surprise that our customers want to upgrade their garden style with daily lifestyle in mind.

Like most of your customers, I have not taken any of my planned work trips or vacations in 2020. Everything was canceled. Due to social distancing, I have not visited anyone other than a couple of necessary family visits and I am still working from home about 50% of the time right now. Like me, many of your customers are internally screaming “get me out of here!” If we can’t take our vacations to relax away from home, and dining al fresco with immediate family on the patio has replaced dining out with friends, then the least we can do is bring a sense of relaxation to our home and landscape.

Patio upgrade

I recently did something I have not done since I bought my patio furniture about six years ago. I bought all new replacement cushions, plus furniture covers, which is neither a simple nor inexpensive endeavor. I am currently hunting for a new unique fire pit and eyeing upgrades to all my bird feeders and bird houses; I need a new shade sail, plus some attractive side tables and better lighting options. I also want to replace some old beat-up patio pots and refresh my container plantings. Sound familiar? Now that customers are using their outdoor spaces much more frequently, they also are seeing all their worn-out patio and garden accessories that do not make them happy anymore from an aesthetic or functional standpoint.

Patio items that are trending heavy right now are patio daybeds, backyard bars, outdoor tiles and vertical gardening units. Unique options for outdoor seating, including hanging chairs and hammocks, also come up increasingly in consumer search trends.

Woven materials, such as wall hangings, pot hangers and wicker are popular. While you may not stock larger outdoor furniture, you should think about how you can complement such items with functional décor or accessories related to outdoor living.

Cultivate comfort

Living outdoors comfortably through most of the year can be challenging in many climates and downright impossible in others. Garden centers should focus on items that help their customers comfortably spend as much time in their gardens as they can, for as long as they can. That may mean unique firepits or patio heaters, cooling misters and fans, shade solutions, attractive mosquito control products, stylish garden lanterns and the like.

Multifunctional

Consider décor items that serve a multifunctional purpose for gardening and outdoor living like pot stands that double as side tables or stools, or vice versa. On home décor sites I am starting to see more references to using outdoor patio rugs and other furniture indoors for high traffic areas. So consider that your outdoor rug and furniture selection may also be shopped for indoor use or décor.

Stylish or unique fire pits extend the fall and spring seasons by creating a cozy environment on chilly nights.
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Pottery

When it comes to pottery trends, most of what I am seeing trends toward a more natural and organic look. If it is not hand thrown, then it at least looks that way. Unglazed or partially glazed pottery is garnering a lot of attention on social media channels. Much of this shift, I think, is due to the current houseplant craze. Along with houseplants, new plant parents are looking for unique pottery to accent their plant babies. Small and tiny pottery — with drainage holes — definitely needs to be a part of your merchandising mix.

Many consumers are still resistant to paying a lot for pottery, but they are seeking items that have a more handmade look to them — even if the pots are still mass produced. The shift to a handmade aesthetic will no doubt train consumers they will need to pay a bit more for quality pots. With more boutique pottery artisans showing up on sites such as Etsy and Instagram pitching their custom wares, consider diversifying your pottery selection with some handmade options, preferably from your local artisans.

Cheerful color

As far as color trends go, customers are looking for any and all things green. Google Trends reports for the colors sage, mint and emerald show a 41%, 24% and 67% popularity increase over the past six months, respectively. Also popular are bright colors such as coral, aqua, turquoise and lemon. When it comes to a lot of that handmade pottery, pink is in, as well as pink mixed with neutral glazes or partially unglazed pots. It looks like we are all searching for color that will both soothe and cheer us up.

Knickknacks and feeders

As far as decorative items or knickknacks go, the trend toward a more natural feel is also prominent. Organic shapes with unpainted stone and metal, frequently in the shape of plants (often agave or other succulents) and flowers are on trend. Butterfly puddlers, bee waterers and deck mount bird baths will also help you customers better enjoy the local wildlife while relaxing on their patio.

Rather than decorating for decorating’s sake, we’re all looking for ways to enrich how we live in our gardens, and boost our sense of well-being through natural beauty and comfort.

Leslie (CPH) owns Halleck Horticultural, LLC, through which she provides horticultural consulting, business and marketing strategy, product development and branding, and content creation for green industry companies. lesliehalleck.com