Story by Amanda Domsitz
For those looking forward to getting their hands in the dirt this spring, there are some great tools and trends on the horizon for 2016. There is much that is new, and many returning favorites are more popular than ever to help create a garden that is bountiful, beautiful and beneficial this year.
Clinton County Farm Bureau member Mike McCarty of McCarty Gardens in Sabina suggests incorporating edibles for harvest or just as a garden accent. Some of the more popular edibles to add into a landscape include cabbage, purple leaf basil, kale, artichoke, and Swiss chard. For a unique combination of both edibles and common plants in your yard this summer, try sage and succulents; thyme and phormium; Swiss chard and sweet alyssum; or Chinese cabbage and tulips.
Many garden centers offer pre-planted container pots with a mixture of plants that grow well together ready for you to purchase.
“There is a plant called Wandering Jew, which is a house plant. I can see this becoming popular this year in an outdoor container pot,” McCarty said. “It has an interesting foliage and working it in with a traditional annual can be eye-catching.”
Square Foot Gardening and Raised Beds
This type of garden is great for not only small areas and tighter spaces but it is also good for older generations and has been a trend for some time. Raised beds are also being used within rooftop gardens to provide naturalistic settings to urban areas.
McCarty has noticed more people are going away from large gardens and they are now installing smaller, raised beds. This helps in situations with space restraints. It also helps those who find it more of a struggle to kneel on the ground to tend to their garden.
Succulents and Fairy Gardening
“This is a great way to get young children involved and excited about gardening,” McCarty said. Fairy gardening is a continuing trend from last year, but McCarty said his garden center has continued to sell many accessories as well as pre-made fairy gardens, which are also continuing to grow in popularity. Keep an eye out for these low-maintenance plants being used in bouquets and boutonnieres for events, as well as vertical walls and wreaths.
Low Maintenance Landscaping
Mulch is being replaced by stone and other groundcovers as a simple alternative. “Many families are busier than ever and looking for a low-maintenance landscape option. We have had more and more requests for aggregates,” said McCarty. Other low-maintenance plants that will be hot items this year are ornamental grasses, petunias and Lantana, which is a perennial in the verbena family.
Native and Non-Invasive Species
“Consumers are becoming more aware of plants that are invasive and are avoiding using those in their landscape,” McCarty said. Recently in Ohio, the Callery Pear Tree has been labeled as invasive. These can be seen on roadways, parks and wild areas and the fast growth rate has played a role in its rise to invasive status. Consumers and gardeners are being encouraged not to use these types of species in their home gardens and research less invasive plants. For a list of Ohio’s top invasive plants, go to ohiodnr.gov/invasivespecies.
Having a potted herb garden right in your kitchen not only provides fresh, accessible ingredients while cooking, but it looks great on a windowsill. Be creative in ways you plant such as mason jars, or pots painted with chalkboard paint for easy labeling. McCarty suggested a well-lit area and regular watering. Popular no-fuss herbs to try are basil, mint, chives, cilantro and kale.
NaTECHure (nature and technology)
One industry trend is younger people getting involved in gardening again. It used to be a hobby for the older generation, but there’s a specific reason for the youth movement. They want to know where their food is coming from.
Whether the gardener is a well-seasoned green thumb or a beginner, there are apps to help with almost every aspect of gardening. Here are two popular gardening apps:
Garden Plan Pro – Draw out your vegetable beds, add plants and move them around to get the perfect layout. Whether you use traditional row planting, containers, raised beds or square-foot gardening, the Garden Planner adapts to suit your gardening style.
Leafsnap – An electronic field guide was developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.
Photos courtesy of McCarty Gardens and iStockPhoto.com