Broken plan gardens are 2021's newest garden design trend – here's what you need to know

A recent report has signaled the end of open plan gardens – but predicts a new trend is about to interrupt our landscape design

Open concept-garden broken up by an outdoor dining space
(Image credit: Future)

Open concept gardens may have enjoyed a surge in popularity over recent years; however, a new report has suggested this may be coming to an end. Instead, we are breaking up with our open plan exteriors and redesigning our landscapes so they're more separate – and more private. 

But what do 'broken plan' gardens look like, and what has provoked the desire to entirely rethink garden trends? We take a look at what the report suggests and how to experiment with this new craze – in the most stylish way possible. 

Why broken plan gardens are replacing open-concept spaces

Long garden with water feature

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

According to the Yardzen Summer 2021 report, garden zoning has replaced open-concept gardens this season – in the same way that broken plan interiors are also having a moment. The biggest catalyst behind this change was the pandemic, which 'fast-tracked the desire for more walls in the home' as we share work and social spaces with other household members. 'More walls mean more privacy,' and moments of privacy have never felt more important than in this last year. 

'The trend is making its way into outdoor spaces: the yard no longer serves as one-single-serve space, but rather a multifunctional extension of a home. Distinct 'rooms' are being created in the yard, designating specific areas for dining, working, exercising, gardening, and more,' the report explains. 

Creating a broken plan garden from an open concept space

These, the report suggests, are the best ways to break up an open concept garden.

1. Invest in a pergola 

garden broken by an outdoor living room

(Image credit: Future)

Perhaps the easiest way to break up your garden's open plan is with pergola ideas. These structures are a perfect solution for designating areas for specific activities,' and Yardzen has seen an increase in 'prefab and custom pergolas included in designs as a way to create independent spaces within our yard.' 

The company predicts to see almost four times the demand for pergolas this year than in 2020, suggesting homeowners are looking to section parts of their gardens for specific uses – and break up the open-plan flow. 

2. Create an outdoor room – for every season 

garden broken by an outdoor living room zone

(Image credit: Future)

In a similar way that pergolas allow us to create separate zones in our gardens, we can create different sections by designing outdoor rooms that differentiate between different parts of the garden. Consequently, we consider outdoor kitchen ideas and choose furnishings that survive harsher climates around the year. 

'Summer isn't the only season for backyards. As a result of 2020, we've seen a deep desire for year-round backyards and increased requests for all-weather designs,' the report suggests. 

'In places that experience harsher winters, clients are trading their fire pits for outdoor fireplaces - a more permanent structure that invites outdoor entertaining, even in the middle of winter,' they add. 

3. Ensure the separate spaces fit the garden

garden broken by an outdoor dining room zone

(Image credit: Future)

'Space and shape are the first two things to consider when creating a space outside that can function as well as your interiors,' explains CEO of Moda Furnishings, Jonny Brierley. 'If you have a long, narrow garden, you may decide to zone the space, while wider gardens can benefit from access points across the back of the house,' he says. 

4. Design a flow between your interior and exterior rooms

Living wall in small garden

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Just as we inject the latest trends throughout our interiors, our garden zones should follow suit – as Jonny suggests. 'Styling your outdoor space should require much the same level of consideration as indoor styling. Think about layering patterns, colors, and materials to create a personal setting for you and your style. As with your interior scheme, this styling should express your individuality,' he explains. 

5. Create a zen-like spa area 

Garden shower

(Image credit: Future)

Garden zones don't need to be designed like living rooms or kitchens. Instead, you can elevate the space even further by using the space to create a spa. Among the most popular ways to do this is with a sauna, as Finnmark Sauna's PR Manager, Robbie Thompson, explains. 

'We've seen the evidence that [outdoor rooms are replacing open-concept gardens] across many of the properties we've worked on this year,' he begins. 

'People are trying to create their own spa spaces at home with the closure of spas, gyms, and health clubs. Often spas offer intimacy and coziness rather than an open-plan setting, and most of the gardens we've been working in recently haven't had an open-concept setting at the heart of their plans. People seem to be 'asking more' of their gardens, and creating separate sections is being seen as a way forward,' he adds. 

Whether we break up our gardens with a pergola or indulge in a sauna, we're confident this new way of landscaping will remain popular for seasons to come. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.