Here in New York, it's still chilly outside, but there are occasional signs (like that one 70 degree day) that spring will come someday. To get myself in the mood (and to relieve a bit of the winter doldrums), I've been looking at photos of outdoor spaces. Here are a few trends I've noticed — general directions in gardening and landscaping that might inspire you to transform your outdoor space (or just get started gardening).
If you're an avid gardener, being confined to a small space can be incredibly frustrating. The solution? Go vertical! Lately I've been seeing more and more examples of gardens that go up and not just out. In the photo up top from Inside Out, a metal grid holds pots filled with fresh herbs.
Covering walls with plants provides plenty of extra space for gardening, and creates the feeling of being surrounded by greenery. In this design from Garimporio, a small outdoor space turns into an urban jungle.
Xeriscaping is the fine art of filling your garden with native plantings, so that no (or very little) additional watering is required. As gardeners become more and more environmentally conscious, this kind of landscaping is gaining in popularity. This environmentally sensitive California backyard by Scott Shrader appeared in C Magazine.
Going Au Naturel
Forget about formal gardens — today's gardens are more about an undone look, as if you happened to have a nature preserve in your backyard. This Los Angeles garden from Elle Decor uses grasses in different heights to produce a wild, natural look.
Hedges (like this lavender one from HGTV) aren't quite naturally occurring, but they're a great way to separate out portions of your yard without resorting to a wall or fence.
When it comes to water features, you have more choices than just fountains (which can read a bit fussy) or a pool (which involves a great deal of maintenance). Here, a long, narrow pond filled with river rocks adds a calming feel to a backyard from House & Home.
This water feature from House & Home goes vertical, making it perfect for a smaller space.
The traditional English garden, as compared to the French garden, has always had a wilder, more romantic look. It's intended to resemble a natural landscape, and encourage wandering and discovery. A new generation of gardeners is adapting the look to American climates, like this California yard from Velvet & Linen.
You can get the look in a smaller space by using plantings of various heights, as seen in this photo from All Things Garden.
Backyard to Table
Even if your garden isn't as big as this dreamy one from Southern Living, you can still make room to grow things that you can eat. With a new focus on where food comes from and how it's grown, more and more cooks are trying their hand at growing fruits, veggies and herbs in their own backyards.
In this charming backyard from Inside Out, a bed full of basil, rosemary and sage promises flavoring for plenty of tasty dishes. If you're looking to grow food in a small space, check out these 10 ideas that are perfect for people with small yards — or no yard at all.