When it comes to designing a home’s outdoor space, Sean Dowling, founder of Bayon Gardens, keeps three key things in mind.“Movement is the first thing I consider,” he says. “How will people and pets move through the space? How will the wind flow? How will the natural light travel?

“This determines where trees, privacy screens and features are best placed and allows the energy flow to feel right.”

outdoor room

Neutral colour palettes are made inviting with pops of subdued colour. Picture: Lisa Cohen. Styling: Ruth Welsby

The second, he says, is function. “Create a purpose for people to move through the site. Consider the activities you would like to be doing outside – be it cooking, reading, swimming or entertaining – and ensure your design ideas serve the structural requirements needed.”

Last but not least, Sean refers to the architecture of a home. “The landscape must have full connection with the look and feel of the house. Colour palette and material selection can be chosen to make the indoor-outdoor integration seamless.”

Following these principles will ensure you end up with an outdoor area to stand the test of time, but incorporating the latest trends below will have you and your guests lounging around in the outdoors until the sun goes down (and then some).

Grey is the new black

Colour palettes have remained rather simplistic over the last few years, and for a very good reason.

“Creams and greys such as Colorbond’s monument and woodland grey are versatile and sit well with both hard and soft landscaping,” says Sean.

Of course, a splash of colour is a fantastic way to personalise and bring character to any space, and should certainly not be ignored.

“Adding one vibrant colour to a soft or versatile colour palette can create interest with ease. This can be done with cushions, wall art, walls, chairs or anything that you want to pop from the rest.”

sunken outdoor entertaining area

Cushions and wall art add vibrancy to this greyscale garden. Picture: Tim Turner. Design: Bayon Gardens

Timber takes the backseat

Home owners will take a step back from the archetypal timber deck in 2018, and start to embrace more raw textures.

“We’ll be seeing more raw and recycled material palettes in landscape design and construction. Rusted metal sheets, recycled red brick, reclaimed timber and natural stone mixed together can offer a lot to a space,” explains Sean.

The same applies to outdoor furniture, too. “We’re seeing a move towards recycled furniture as people are becoming more aware of their footprint on the planet.”

See more: These are the best landscape design ideas in 2018

strip lighting stairs backyard

Recycled red brick is paired with faded timber decking and concrete tiles to create a layering of materials. Picture: Jason Busch

Year-round entertaining

What’s an Australian home without ample area for outdoor entertaining?

While Sean can confirm that outdoor entertaining areas aren’t going anywhere in 2018, he can reveal that new and improved products and pioneering design ideas are causing an exciting shift in the typical table and chairs.

“Sunken fire pit areas are certainly a highly-requested garden feature,” says Sean. “Not only do they attract guests to one focal area, but they’re especially good in smaller backyards as they give the illusion of a larger space.”

Another of Bayon Gardens’ more in-demand features lends itself to transeasonal entertaining, too.

“One of our most requested design requirements is motorised pergolas and awnings which can be operated via a remote control.”

outdoor fire pit

This circular outdoor fire pit will have the whole family huddled for warmth. Picture: Tim Turner. Design: Bayon Gardens

Now we’re cooking

It would seem that the rising popularity of cooking shows have inspired Aussies to take their culinary passions outdoors.

“Outdoor cooking areas with charcoal barbecues for smoking meats and vegetables are becoming increasingly desired,” says Sean. As are vegetable and herb gardens, particularly those situated close to outdoor kitchens for ease of access.

“Veggie gardens and production areas in home gardens are again becoming very popular. The idea of teaching children where food comes from and having a more sustainable approach to food is highly appealing.”

outdoor kitchen with herb garden

An outdoor pizza over with fresh basil to serve. Belíssimo! Picture: Tim Turner. Design: Bayon Gardens

Greenery is good

As people start to move away from expansive, grassy terrain in favour of outdoor kitchens, pools and sunken entertaining areas, we’re having to get a bit more creative when it comes to adding or enhancing your green space outside.

Garden walls continue to gain momentum with Boston ferns, devil’s ivy and baby’s tears all thriving in the vertical environment. Garden walls appear particularly striking behind pools and in smaller outdoor rooms, and are a stunning way to make the most of small spaces in inner-city homes.

“Espaliered fruit trees are a clever way to hide unwanted walls or to save space in small areas, too. This will become increasingly popular as the courtyard replaces the backyard,” says Sean.

vertical garden

Vertical gardens elevate even the smallest of outdoor areas. Picture: Think Outside Gardens

Balanced landscaping

“Today’s landscapes are designed to extract as much useable space as possible while still maintaining a soft and relaxing space that’s connected to nature,” explains Sean.

To achieve this sought-after balance, he advises we incorporate a mix of hard structures for lifestyle functionality with soft pockets of lush, green sanctuaries.

“The inclusion of smaller, above-ground swimming pools into landscaped areas is on the rise, too. Having a place to sit and hang out in the water has become more appealing.

“In fact, the modern pool is more of a visual feature within the landscape, rather than a place to actually swim laps.”

Love this? Check out the 5 pool trends to watch in 2018

Above ground pool

This above ground pool doubles as a visual feature. Picture: David Hicks

Smart gardens

Much like almost every other aspect of your home life, you can now control your backyard at the touch of a button.

“Wifi-enabled gardens are becoming very popular as technology continues to improve. Lights, irrigation and pools are a few things that are now fully operational from your phone or tablet,” says Sean.

Heat up your spa on your commute home, water your gardenias from the office on a dry day, or program your fairy lights to turn on automatically as the sun goes down.

Ikea outdoor setting

Enjoy a backyard that responds to your digital commands. Picture: Ikea

Shared from: https://www.realestate.com.au/lifestyle/top-outdoor-living-trends-2018/

By: Katie Skelly, 2018.