Leading Landscape Designer Shares 2020’s Top 5 Trends

This year has changed how we think about many things, not least of all our homes and gardens.

Sanctuary.  Staycation destination.  Workplace.  Nature retreat.  In 2020, our homes have become all these things and more.

In the past 10 months we’ve spent more time in – and on – our homes than at any other time in living memory.  The terrible losses of the Black Summer bushfires followed by floods and a pandemic have reminded us that our homes are more than just a place to sleep at night.  They’re precious refuges, located in some of the cleanest and greenest cities on earth.

All the energy and expense we once directed outwards towards holidays, events and socialising has been turned inwards, towards making our homes as relaxing, enjoyable, and sustainable as we can.

This change in perspective has influenced what we want from our outdoor spaces and Michael Bates from Bates Landscape has revealed that homeowners are challenging landscape designers like himself to create backyards which reflect their altered lifestyles and priorities in a number of fresh ways.

“My own landscape design process has always been intuitive, site driven and client-centric,” said Michael, “but there are some broad trends which have influenced the gardens we’ve created this year.”

Here, Michael shares his top five landscape trends for 2020.


Along with baking sourdough and bottling jam, growing vegetables at home is a nod to self-reliance which has resonated with many during the pandemic.  From installing chicken coops to planting olive trees, our clients are keener than ever to dedicate space to raising their own food.


Can’t travel?  No worries.  Conjure up your favourite travel memories – a luxury poolside resort stay, boho luxe lounge – and recreate them at home.  One of my favourite ways to make each garden unique is to weave in elements from our client’s most treasured travel tales, to help them recapture that feeling at home.

Drought Resistant

For many years, Australian’s have been becoming more aware that low water-use gardens are a more sustainable and low-maintenance way to go.  Our recent severe drought has cemented this in our national conscience, resulting in the creation of some incredible drought-resistant native gardens.

Family Home

In hard times, our family means more to us than ever.  More and more, our clients are asking us to create gardens which bring their families together, providing a place for all generations to play, rest and connect.  From older couples looking to lure the grandkids around to younger families creating teenage hangouts, gardens with cross-generational appeal are a big trend in 2020.

Tree Change

Without the ability to go overseas, or even interstate for most of 2020, we’ve been enjoying exploring our own backyards more than ever.  We’ve headed to regional areas in droves to enjoy the fresh country air, wide open spaces, and uncrowded villages – and many of us have fallen in love.  The tree change trend shows no sign of abating, and we’re seeing a rise in enquiries for our team to design and build beautiful gardens for weekenders in regional areas surrounding Sydney. 

Image credits – photographer: Prue Ruscoe; architect: Luigi Rosselli

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