And as a gardening expert, I see and hear my clients’ interests and intentions on a daily basis. So I’m going to reach for my crystal ball and share with you what’s going to trend next year in the world of garden design.

Artificial grass - our garden trend number one for 2017

1. Faking it with artificial grass

The top of the list of my clients’ requirements is (at least 90% of the time) is that their garden is “low-maintenance”. That means different things to different people. Some are happy to do a day’s work in their garden once in a while. But others can’t find any time at all in their busy lives. And the one thing I’m getting increasing requests for is artificial grass.

Let’s face it, mowing the lawn can be a chore. Your garden might be an awkward shape or on a slope. You might have pets or children who leave things hidden in the grass. What seems, on the face of it, to be a routine task, can soon turn into a couple of hours’ hard work.

And then there is the waste to deal with. And the edges usually need cutting separately. And when you’ve got the lawn looking just the way you want it, two weeks later you have to do it all over again.

Good looks all year round

The attraction of artificial grass is not hard to work out. You just lay it and leave it. It doesn’t get damaged by pets. It needs no maintenance at all, except for sweeping up autumn leaves. We even have one client who cleans her artificial lawn with a hoover.

Today’s artificial grass has come a long way since it first appeared as a sports playing surface in the 1960s. Since the 1990s it has been used in residential settings – originally in places where watering was an issue. But now its lack of maintenance and relatively low cost are key reasons why it’s my no.1 garden trend for 2017.

Employing a gardener - garden trend number two for 2017

2. Employing a gardener

Let’s face it. If you haven’t got the time to cut the grass, you probably don’t have time for the weeding, pruning, dividing and dead-heading that comes with owning a garden. So a lot of my clients are looking for help with ongoing garden maintenance. I have some gardeners on my list, and I’m keeping them all busy in my clients’ gardens.

Skills shortage

There is a proper skills shortage in this country for qualified gardeners. While it’s straightforward to set up as a gardener, it’s also very easy to ruin a garden if you don’t know what you’re doing. The skills shortage is not helped by a general perception that gardeners are glorified odd-job men. It’s quite the opposite.

Gardeners are expected to know hundreds of plants by sight, as well as where best to plant them and how to care for them. They need to be able to recognise a host of common and uncommon pests and diseases and know how to treat them. Increasingly they need a variety of certifications for pesticide spraying and operating power tools.

Good gardeners are anything but unskilled. So if you know of any, please send them my way!

3. Entertaining friends with pizza

The third hot garden trend on my list is the pizza oven. I’ve seen lots of interest in these recently, and we’ve incorporated three of them into gardens this year (like this one above, in Ashby de la Zouch).

Despite our weather, outdoor entertaining is becoming more popular. A pizza oven acts as a focal point in an entertaining area. We’ve designed them to fit into outdoor kitchen areas surrounded by ample seating.

Healthy, stylish, entertaining and fun

A pizza oven accomplishes two things – it heats up your entertaining space (ideal in a British ‘summer’) and can cook your pizzas even if it’s raining. Who of us hasn’t attempted a family barbecue under an umbrella?

You can get gas-fired or wood-burning ovens, and some can also double as slow cookers as they hold their heat for up to 24 hours. Built-in ovens can range from £500-£2,000+ and stand-alone ovens start at the £150 mark.

So those are my top three garden trends for 2017. What do you think will be trending next year? Let me know.