‘Horti-Futurism’ is the Gardening Trend of the Summer That Embraces a Sci-Fi Inspired Landscape

Find out what experts have to say about this mega-modern gardening trend and how to transform your backyard to get the look

a backyard seating area with underlighting
(Image credit: Erik Holt. Design: Cos Design)

Horti-futurism is one of our favorite gardening trends to gain acclaim in 2024. This sci-fi-inspired aesthetic is all about breaking from tradition, from the visually attractive landscaping to the deeper sustainability working behind the scenes, and it's like nothing you've ever seen before.

Ahead of its time, this gardening concept is so full of personality that it transforms any basic space into a masterfully curated land of its own. It's the kind of outdoor space that's meticulously designed with thorough intention and unexpected artistic whimsy. When it comes to garden trends, this is among the most divine. Needless to say, this landscaping approach will turn your backyard into a contemporary space guaranteed to intrigue.

What is 'Horti-Futurism'?

modern backyard with lawn, gravel, planting and stone sculpture

(Image credit: Greg Thomas Photography/Eden Garden Design)

According to cultural gardening consultant Tracy Qiu, the horti-futurism trend is a naturalistic planting design that envisions a better future. 'In the past, historic gardens with vast, sweeping displays told a story of luxury and leisure,' she explains. 'With horti-futurism, gardening becomes a way by which we can make the future more equitable, more sustainable, and more interconnected with each other.'

Tracy notes that as we move away from a traditionalist, limited view of what gardens can and should be, people are finding new ways to engage with plants that center diverse knowledge traditions and challenge us to rethink the role gardens can play in light of an uncertain future.

'In a horti-futurist world, we reuse materials creatively, share information freely, and build gardens that build community,' she says. 'Aesthetically, it’s bright, fun, and hopeful.'

Tracy also informs us that Horti-futurism leverages technology for smart gardening in a recyclable, sustainable way that encourages the reduction of waste while also saving time and money. 'You’ll often see horti-futurist gardens repurposing or upcycling items to give them a new life, or trialing different gardening techniques to sustainably increase productivity and decrease labor,' she says. 'Horti-futurism is about uniting plants and the objects around us to ultimately take care of one another.'

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St. Ives, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom

(Image credit: robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo)

Garden Media Group's Becky Paxton tells us that there’s a fascinating relationship between gardening and pop culture that’s fueling the horti-futurism trend. 'Entertainment and gardening trends often reflect and feed off of one another, and with science fiction films, books, and television experiencing a global boom in popularity, it’s no surprise that the sci-fi aesthetic is making its way to the garden,' says Becky.

'We’ve watched Matt Damon farm in space on The Martian and seen a rocket soar through deep space powered by mushrooms on Star Trek,' she notes. 'Even in pop culture, plants are central to the survival of humanity.'

'What’s fascinating is that in these portrayals of plants, they’re not just passively present; they’re often very beautiful,' says Becky. 'Gardening is the place where beauty, function, and resilience meet.'

Landscape designer Katherine Aul Cervoni tells us that horti-futurism has likely risen in popularity because of its fun and escapist character. Additionally, a lot of these futuristic elements add a level of convenience to caring for your plants. This culmination of culture, advancement, and environment has blended to form an edgier version of gardens and we're here for it. It's almost as if Denis Villeneuve's Dune, layered gardening, and eco-friendly principles are artfully combined to give rise to creative renditions of outdoor space.

How to adopt Horti-Futurism into your backyard?

Sculpture in the gardens

(Image credit: Ema Peter. Design: Paul Sangha)

If you're looking for outdoor living ideas to give your backyard a renewed look that's both fresh and friendly to our Earth, then the horti-futurism trend is aligned with your gardening desires. Here's what the experts have to say about bringing this trend to life in the comfort of your backyard.

1. Feature Hydroponics & Aquaponics

hydroponic herb garden

(Image credit: B Christopher/Alamy Stock Photo)

According to gardening expert Tony O'Neill, one of the easiest ways to get started on your horti-futuristic garden is to introduce hydroponics and aquaponics into the space. 'I recommend exploring hydroponic gardening or aquaponic systems for growing plants without soil,' he says. 'These methods are highly efficient, use less water, and can be set up even in limited outdoor spaces.' So if you have a small garden on your hands but are still keen on adopting this trend, Tony reassures you that there is hope yet.

2. Utilize sustainable materials and practices

The M & G Garden designed by Harris Bugg Studio

(Image credit: RHS/Neil Hepworth)

The essence of horti-futurism is deeply intertwined with the concept of sustainability. 'As environmental awareness grows, more people are looking for ways to make their gardening practices more sustainable and eco-friendly,' says Tony. 'Horti-futurism addresses these concerns by promoting efficient water usage, reducing waste, and enhancing biodiversity.'

'Employ sustainable and recycled materials for garden structures and decor,' he says. 'And opt for eco-friendly planters, biodegradable pots, and reclaimed wood for raised beds and garden furniture.'

He also recommends installing smart irrigation systems like wifi-controlled sprinklers and garden tech that use sensors to monitor soil moisture and weather conditions, adjusting watering schedules accordingly. 'This ensures efficient water usage and prevents overwatering.'

3. Elevate with vertical gardening

Transform your living wall into a work of art in this vertical gardening design

(Image credit: Amir Schlezinger | MyLandscapes)

Vertical garden ideas are a great way to introduce horti-futuristic elements to your backyard. Tony suggests incorporating vertical gardening techniques using wall-mounted planters, trellises, and green walls. 'This maximizes space and adds a modern, green aesthetic to your garden.'

Considering rampant rural degradation as a factor influencing horti-futuristic spaces, Tony explains that increasing urbanization has led to limited space for traditional gardening. 'Horti-futurism offers strategic solutions like vertical gardens that allow urban dwellers to cultivate plants in small spaces.'

4. Feature accent art and lighting

lit round garden sculpture in a green flower bed

(Image credit: Kate Gould)

No horti-futuristic garden is complete without its dose of futuristic accents. And according to Katherine, modern garden lighting plays a major role in bringing together the ambiance of a hyper-contemporary space.

'Try adding some LED low-voltage lights that can be controlled by an app,' she recommends. 'Or opt for outdoor-grade strip lights, as they're relatively cheap and easy to install just about anywhere with many having the option for multicolor lights.' We've also found sculptures, statues, and other modernist decorative elements dotted around horti-futurist gardens.

Confirming this decor theme, Tracy recommends introducing structural man-made elements in the form of functional art. 'When considering the form and function of your garden’s design, consider the objects, colors, and functions that evoke an optimistic sense of the future.'

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.