More and more gardeners have adopted organic principles, especially for growing their own food. (Nicole Phillips)

More and more gardeners have adopted organic principles, especially for growing their own food. (Nicole Phillips)

Gardening trends for the next decade (or at least the new year)

Dirt is healthy, and manicured lawns and gardens aren’t ideal — those are two of Steve Smith’s takeaways for 2020.

I spent countless hours researching gardening trends for 2020 in hopes of bringing you something of deep profundity. Unfortunately, I have to confess that it has been a struggle to find the perfect morsels of wisdom for your reading pleasure.

I have come to the conclusion that perhaps I am trying to set the bar too high. The trends for 2020 are really just a continuation of what I have observed over the past five years, so here are the points that I think you will find most informative and useful.

Dirt is good for you. Intuitively we have all known this, but now it is official. Out of England from the Royal Horticulture Society comes the following announcement: “New findings have revealed that a soil bacteria known as mycobacterium vaccea is good for our immune systems, which could spark interest in mud pies next year.”

OK, I’m not so sure that mud pies are going to be the next rage, but at least it is good to know that we don’t have to be quite so OCD about Johnny getting some dirt on his hands. Personally, I have always preferred to garden without gloves. By the end of the summer, my hands are a mess — but you know what, I don’t recall ever having a cold in the summer so maybe there is something to this dirt stuff. Plus, I get a huge emotional high from putting my hands into a healthy bed of soil. It becomes a therapeutically beneficial activity. I suspect some of you can relate.

Greener than ever. Gardeners are becoming more and more environmentally aware. When I was into the organic gardening movement back in the early 1970s, I was considered crazy. Fast-forward 50 years, and “organic” has become mainstream. Home gardeners and even some areas of commercial farming are now embracing the age-old principles of good soil stewardship and the value of compost and integrated pest management.

“No dig” and “no till” methods of planting are becoming popular. Along with growing our own organic food, we are also becoming increasingly aware of the importance of providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, frogs and all that goes along with what we call “nature.” This gives me hope for the future.

Neat and tidy isn’t so nifty. As a corollary to the above environmental awareness, gardeners are beginning to realize that they don’t need to control everything in the garden. Gardens that have neat and tidy lawns and shrubs that don’t touch each other can be sterile environments for attracting the birds and the bees.

We are learning to let our plants grow together and go to seed and leaving the mess until spring so the fallen leaves can replenish the earth. This doesn’t mean that we let the blackberries, morning glory and horsetail take over the yard, though. We still have to manage our slice of paradise, but we do it with good stewardship in mind.

Look up to create space. As builders continue to put bigger houses on ever-decreasing lots, homeowners are challenged to find creative ways to use their outdoor living areas. Vertical gardening continues to increase in popularity — we’re finding all sorts of creative ways to build planters on fences and walls and growing plants in small spaces.

Just add water. Incorporating fountains and ponds adds a level of interest and often tranquility to the garden, not to mention that they attract birds and frogs. I remember back when I was 14 as the neighborhood yard boy, that almost every garden I worked in had some sort of water feature in it. It just goes to show that some things never go out of style.

Bring the outdoors in. Houseplants are back in vogue. I don’t care what generation you belong to, houseplants will improve your indoor living environment. They are a great way for younger generations to get back to nature and learn the basics of gardening and to allow older generations to still be surrounded by their beloved plants as they downsize their living conditions. The choices and sizes have never been more diverse, so start thinking about adding some living plants to your home. You will breathe better and probably have a more positive attitude toward life.

No matter what size your garden — or maybe it doesn’t even exist yet! — with a little effort and imagination, you can make it your own special place to recharge your batteries or to fill your belly. In my opinion, with our current pace of life it has never been more important to spend time outside in our gardens. May it be your 2020 resolution to do just that.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at


Attend a free class on how houseplants equal healthy air 10 a.m. Jan. 11 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit

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