Trendspotting: Greening of Pittsburgh

Green pittsburgh

By Teresa Woodard

Last month, Debra, Michael and I traveled to Pittsburgh for a jam-packed, 4-day conference with the Garden Writers Association.  Here, we met with hundreds of other communicators in the lawn and garden industries and witnessed first-hand many of the Steel City’s green trends.

No-mow lawns – Designed by Hugh Newel Jacobsen, this LEED home features a gravel front “yard” and mixed fescue “no mow” backyard.

Pittsburgh convention center rooftop garden

Rooftop gardens –The south terrace at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center features a rooftop garden that’s both aesthetic for convention events but also functional, acting as a natural insulator and reducing stormwater runoff.


Succulent sod – On the trade show floor, this sedum sod by Great Garden Plants caught our attention for its ease of installation, trial success and beauty.

Edibles in the landscape –  Props to these downtown restaurants (The Porch and Levy Restaurant) for featuring edibles, like chard and basil, in their landscape designs.

Garden at Schenley Plaza

Downtown beautification – Just steps from the University of Pittsburgh, Schenley Plaza was recently renovated by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and today features this All-America Selection Display Garden.

Harvesting water — At the Phipps Conservatory’s Center for Sustainability, all stormwater runoff is captured in a lagoon system and passed through a plant-based treatment process for later use in irrigation and toilet flushing.


Trendspotting: Edibles in 2014

What are the trendy gardens growing in 2104?

By Michael Leach

Want to be part of the gardening in-crowd in 2014? Plant tomatoes, beans or some other edible. If this sounds familiar, it is. Vegetables are expected to continue holding their own as must-haves this year.

An estimated 54 percent of the 78 million U.S. gardening households grew vegetables in 2013, according to the most recent survey by the Garden Writers Association. This is the same percent as in 2012 but up a hair from the 53 percent in 2010 and 2011.

The nonprofit, international association of garden communicators and industry representatives also reports lawn and garden spending was an average of $615 per household in 2013, up slightly from 2012.

Since the financial crisis in 2008 and onset of the Great Recession, growing your own food grew in popularity, according to annual trend surveys by the association. Besides saving some money on the grocery budget, people grow their own food for safety, flavor and self-sufficiency.

Still, overall spending estimates for lawns and gardens over the past three years has been relatively static: $600 in 2010, $530 in 2011 and $600 in 2012. The tallies include plants and maintenance and covers in-ground and container gardening.

Lest we get too excited with such expenditures, the survey shows 66 percent of the respondents spent less than $500 on the yards and gardens in 2013.

Forty-one percent of consumers estimate they spent most of their money on lawns and grass. Certainly that’s not a surprise for those of us in the Midwest, where spacious, well-groomed lawns are a source of pride for many.

Vegetables and fruit plants were a close second at 39 percent. Other areas are: perennial flowers (29 percent) third, trees/shrubs (27 percent) fourth and annuals (26 percent) fifth.

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