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Popular Themes at Garden Show Include Technology, Millennials, Urban Gardening

Independent garden center and home improvement retailers gathered Aug. 15-17 at the Independent Garden Center Show (IGC) in Chicago to find products and inspiration to bring back to their businesses.

Hardware Retailing staffers Chad Husted and Kelsey Truex were in attendance at the annual show. They sought out unique products, spoke with independent retailers and got an understanding of the popular trends in the category.

One immediate theme visible at the event was the prominence of green throughout the show, as seen as a favored hue in gardening products themselves, as well as being a common phrase and idea. As consumers are demanding more natural and eco-friendly products from the category, retailers and vendors are responding to that need.

In fact, green, sustainable and natural products are not a fad, according to IGC exhibitors. The demand for these products has been growing for years, beginning on the coasts and gradually working its way to Middle America. Additionally, as millennials take up a larger share of the, their needs are molding the future industry trends.

Green Thumbs

Natural was a buzzword at this year’s show, displaying vendors’ turn toward a younger market. From fertilizer featuring organic ingredients or rehabilitated outdoor artwork, showcased products have a focus on sustainability.

This was most evident in the feed and chemical products on display. All-natural, organic plant food was trending at the show, as vendors were highlighting how eco-friendly items work in the garden. Both solid and liquid fertilizer were available in this form, but it wasn’t just nourishment that was getting the green treatment.

Weed and insect killers were the real standouts among green products. Plus, an emphasis was placed on eco-friendly products as they are safe to use around children and pets while still being effective in fighting off invasive insects and plants.

Going Modern

The show wasn’t just about feed and chemicals. Outdoor displays and decorating were on display as well. Exhibitors featured products to decorate the outdoor space. Many of these outdoor decor pieces featured modern designs as well as crafting pieces.

Several vendors featured items that could be created by a consumer, providing all of the tools necessary while leaving the creativity in the hands of the customer. Vertical gardening kits designed to grow plants up a wall were part of the latest lineup of products, while concrete design kits were also on display. The concrete kits featured molds that could fit together to form walking paths, with small jewels or stones decorating the molds based on the user’s preference.

Modern design trends were visible particularly in pottery. Colors often reserved for minimalist interior designs, including a lot of whites and soft greys, were being featured in pottery and accompanying items. Other products worked more electric colors into designs, including a vendor that used colored plastics to bring neon elements into tables, chairs and sculptures designed to mimic flowers.

Smaller, Smarter Spaces

Vendors were also implementing ideas for a more urban environment to target the growing millennial customer base. Also a popular find were raised planters and watering systems designed to work in small spaces, perfect for city-dwellers. Ready-to-grow items, like citrus plants sold in the container, were another sector that vendors highlighted for urban gardeners.

Technology has also found its place in the lawn and garden category. Watering systems that could be scheduled on a smartphone app were featured, as were items that could tell a gardener in real time the water, temperature and soil conditions of their plants.

About Chad Husted

Chad is an assistant editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A Purdue University graduate, Chad has covered sports and news at the high school, college and Olympic levels as a sports writer, editor and designer for multiple newspapers. Prior to joining the NRHA, he was the sports editor for the Herald Journal in Monticello, Indiana, and a designer and copy editor for the AIM Media Indiana group in Columbus, Indiana. When not cultivating his beard, he enjoys backpacking, cooking, traveling and watching too much sports and Netflix.

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