And by trends, we don’t mean luxuries.

These days, staying up to date is a necessity if you want to grab your share of customers, buyers and renters.

Level Green landscape designer Shelley Russell has her eye on some of the hottest landscaping trends.

If you’re a property manager, you should have your eye on them, too.

“There’s a lot of competition out there, especially in downtown DC,” Russell says. “How will you stand out to get those renters, those residents?”

A lot of those potential customers are young people, she points out.

“They’re online, they’re on Instagram, they know what’s new, what’s trending, what’s the ‘it' thing,” Russell says. “If you want your building full, you have to compete.”

She shares eight trends to try.

1. Bring The Inside Out

Reclaimed and industrial materials continue to be hot for interior design. Now they’re moving outside, too.

Salvaged corrugated steel. Reclaimed brick. Ceramic tiles.watering large trees in containers

Updating a courtyard, patio or outdoor work space with these modern materials offers an instant style boost, Russell says.

“You can continue a look outdoors that you already have going on indoors,” she says.

Use ceramic tiles as a decorative inset on a patio. Choose recycled copper planters for an industrial look — the rustic metal is a great complement to the lush greenery and color of plants.

2. Sensory Gardens

Sure, you want your landscaping to look great. But don’t neglect the other senses.

Gardens that are fun to touch, taste and smell are a growing trend, Russell says — and easy to add to any courtyard, patio or outdoor space where people gather.

“Even with limited space in the city,” she says. “You can put pots on a sunny balcony and grow herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary and dill.”

That covers taste and smell.

Touch the fuzzy leaves of a lamb’s ear plant and you’ll swear you’re petting a kitten. Many ornamental grasses rustle in the breeze, engaging your sense of sound.

Sensory gardens are great for hospitals, Russell says.

“I’d love to design a courtyard in the middle of a hospital,” she says. “Patients could get out of their rooms and smell the lavender. It’s so healing.”

3. Outdoor Fire Pits And Grills

“This is almost automatic now with condo and apartment courtyards,” Russell says. “Everybody wants a fire pit. It brings people outside and fosters a sense of community.

“It’s so nice to hang out by a fire with your friends and have a glass of wine,” she says. “And it extends the seasons. You can enjoy the landscaping right through the fall and into the winter.”

Hotels have joined this hot landscape enhancement trend, too, offering outdoor fire features to encourage guests to linger on the property.

Millennial renters love outdoor areas with fire pits and grills. Instant party, and you don’t have to clean your place.

4. Pollinator Gardens

Be kind to bees. People appreciate that kind of stuff. “People are really becoming aware of the decline in the bee population, which is a huge thing happening right now,” Russell says. All types of pollinators – insects, birds and bats – are in trouble due to habitat loss, diseases and pesticide use.

Fill your property with plants they love.bee on Black Eyed Susan in pollinator garden

Virginia sweetspire. Bee balm. Cardinal flower.

“This is a great trend for schools, to get kids involved,” Russell says. “More and more, schools are bringing kids outside to plant vegetables and herbs they can eat.”

Add pollinator plants and kids get a science lesson, too.

You don’t need a lot of space for a pollinator garden, Russell says.

“Even a couple window boxes can make a difference.”

5. Culinary Gardens

“More and more restaurants are growing their own vegetables and herbs to use in their cooking,” Russell says.  “It can be on their roof top or just outside their back door.” (Side note: rooftop gardens are another big trend.)

If you’ve ever munched a gourmet pizza with fresh picked basil, you know why this is a trend.

So many reasons.

Grow your own herbs and vegetables, and you’ll know exactly where they came from.

It doesn’t get any fresher than this.

It’s cheaper.

No packaging.

Edible plants do double duty, enriching your recipes and looking pretty outside in the garden or planter.

Lots of options here. Just about any herb does well in a planter.

Grow your own tomatoes, peas and green beans. They love to scramble up a trellis, so you don’t need a ton of space.

6. Artistic Outdoor Lighting

If you’re a property manager, you know all about lighting for safety, from pathways to parking lots.

This year, experiment with lighting for beauty, Russell says.

Trees out front become artwork with strategic professional lighting.   

“Think about a Japanese maple, and how cool and architectural they look, even in winter,” she says. “Imagine how lighting casts its shadow against a wall.”

Remember those fire pits and grills we talked about? They need lighting.

“It increases the hours you can spend outside,” Russell says. “Light your water features, so everybody has more hours to enjoy them.”

7. Climate Change Gardens

It’s time to choose plants that are adaptable to fluctuations in the weather conditions, Russell says. Think drought-tolerant natives that don’t need irrigation.

Plant more trees — they absorb and store a ton of carbon pollution from the atmosphere. Plant shade trees near your building and they’ll help reduce your air conditioning costs.

8. Wildflower and Meadow Gardens

Have you seen a meadow lately? First of all, they’re stunning, with drifts of purple, yellow, orange and white.

But they’re beyond pretty, Russell says. They’re low maintenance, need little irrigation, are pollinator-friendly and offer multi-season interest.wildflower and meadow garden

No surprise they’re one of the “it” gardens..

“If you want to reduce your turf, but you don’t want hardscape, a meadow is great for that,” she says.

Interested in gaining LEED certification? A meadow is a natural choice.

Stunning queen of the prairie, with its pink lacy plumes. Sturdy, cheerful, black-eyed Susan. Drifts of butter-yellow coreopsis.

Russell can plan a pocket wildflower garden for a school or a whole sprawling hillside to control erosion.

Trust Your Landscape Enhancement Trends for 2019 To Level Green

Nobody wants to be part of an outdated property.

Whether you choose a contemporary patio re-do with industrial materials or a wildflower meadow to boost your green appeal, the experts at Level Green can guide you from idea right through to skilled installation.

If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers.

Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.

Contact us at 202-544-0968.

You can also request a free consultation to meet with us one-on-one.

We’d love to hear from you.

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Image sources: black eyed susan