Premium innovations drive garden and outdoor living

While the large gap between cheap and expensive hoses remains substantial, it seems that the premium market has continued to grow, particularly with several quality innovations recently launched onto the market.

Pope is one such company that has not only refreshed its range of hose ends, from TPR fittings to a hardier hybrid plastic variety, but have also introduced new packaging as well as new branding. Its ‘Tap Ready’ models specifically feature new fittings and packaging, while Pope’s Brumby and GroPro Storm hoses also feature a brass hose end connector. This year the HILLS_2 squarecompany has continued to market the strength of its trusted Pope Perma Fit™  connection, with the super strong crimp withstanding high water pressure to ensure it remains leak
resistant and no tightening of the fitting is required.

Hills Home Living has also grown the premium market with the release of its superior range of hoses, nozzles, spray guns, connectors, reels and sprinklers, which is expected to not only improve the quality of its products, but also focus specifically on ergonomics and hose connection performance. The range improves usability, while also delivering ergonomically beneficial watering solutions, with a graduated flow trigger.

Watering timers also remain in trend this year, particularly timers that are adjustable and easy to set. Pope continues to offer its customers a wide range of timers including its user friendly two hour tap timer with EZ Dial two way tap. This timer has become a market icon and is still very popular despite being developed over 25 years ago. Not only has it maintained its functionality, flexibility and value for money, but it is also popular with older gardeners due to its ease of use. Pope’s set and forget watering products also remain extremely popular with battery operated automatic tap timers boasting multiple watering zones, a range of programs and run times.

Planting trends for spring

A key trend in home gardening this year is an increased interest in flower growing, with last spring seeing significant growth in sales of flower seed varieties. This trend is expected to continue throughout the upcoming spring. Vegetable, flower and herb seed company, Mr Fothergill’s, recently reported that consumers have become increasingly interested in the aesthetics of their garden, particularly when it comes to seeing it filled with colour. This increased demand is also driven by a growing awareness of protecting pollinator populations, such as bees and butterflies, and also companion planting techniques which introduce flowers into vegetable gardens, according to the company. To ensure it is easier for shoppers to recognise flower varieties that attract bees and butterflies into gardens, Mr Fothergill’s has also introduced a ‘wildlife attracting’ symbol on all flower varieties which are particularly well suited for enticing friendly insect populations. Mr Fothergill’s is also set to introduce a number of new flower seed varieties this spring, including ‘Bee & Butterfly Flower Mix’, which includes a number of flowers that are particularly attractive to these friendly critters and are certain to become a hit amongst flower gardeners. Whilst flower gardening increases in popularity, there is also an increasing consumer interest in growing Australia’s native plants due to a growing appreciation for the role Australian natives play in the ecosystem. Native plants are also proving popular due to their ability to withstand the harsh Australian growing conditions and easy maintenance once established.


Another trend shaping the planting industry is a growing demand for planting convenience, which has two key drivers. The first is limited knowledge and experience in gardening, particularly for younger generations. The other is time poor consumers who are busy juggling work and family responsibilities, but are also keen gardeners who want to find time to garden in their busy schedules.


Pope has introduced new packaging to its hoses. Hills has released a superior range of hoses, nozzles, spray guns, connectors and sprinklers. The ‘Sow Easy’ seed tapes and mats are simply laid on soil, covered lightly and watered. The tapes allow users to plant straight rows of vegetables, while minimising the need for thinning and making it particularly easy to grow small seeds, such as carrots, that can be difficult to manage.

To target time poor gardeners, Mr Fothergill’s is also launching Roll ‘n’ Grow Gardens, with each garden containing five plant varieties pre-sown into a mat measuring 200cm x 45cm. The Roll ‘n’ Grow gardens are available in three popular varieties including: Salad Vegetables (Beetroot Crimson Globe, Carrot Kuroda, Spring Onion White Lisbon, Lettuce Mixed Leaf Salad, Radish French Breakfast), Superfoods (Broccoli Italian Sprouting, Spinach Viking, Kale Green Curled, Beetroot Crimson Globe, Rocket) and Cottage Flowers (five flower varieties: Alyssum Carpet of Snow, Forget Me Not Indigo, Poppy Shirley Single Mixed, Heartsease, Johnny Jump Up, Lobelia Crystal Palace).

Mr Fothergill’s ‘Sow Easy’ seed tapes and mats are proving to be popular. Mr Fothergill’s has launched its new Roll ‘n’ Grow Gardens, with each garden containing five plant varieties.

Green walls find new markets

Vertical gardens also continue to be embraced by landscape architects, designers and home gardeners alike, with the vertical garden evolving from a radical new idea, to a garden that is accessible to all. The palette of suitable plants for vertical gardens is also expanding, with many old favourites finding a niche in vertical gardens and stylish indoor installations. Greater resilience has also come to the green wall, due to the introduction of a range of purpose built modular planting systems.

Edible green walls

The edible green wall is another growth area in gardens, with herbs and leafy greens, such as soft-leafed lettuce and spinach, now being planted in vertical growing systems particularly for balcony and courtyard gardens. Strawberries, cherry tomatoes such as tumbling varieties, and mouse melon (Melothria scabra) are also a vertical fruiting option.

Beautiful fencing

Vertical gardens are also being used in housing developments, particularly with large houses on small blocks of land that use high paling or Colorbond fences to separate from their neighbours. It seems traditional landscape design advice, about blurring boundaries and incorporating borrowed landscape, just does not apply when gardens are wider than they are deep and the view is of the neighbours’ roofs.

Rather than try to make the fence disappear, a trendy option is to embrace the fence and turn it into a design feature. That ugly fence can be used to support vertical gardens, decorated panels or screens, painted with designs or decorated or pierced with ornaments such as coloured glass, marbles or mirrors. Fence bling could be a new section for the adventurous garden centre or plant shop.

Australians embrace outdoor living

Achieving a new landscape design and reducing garden maintenance are just some of the consumer trends that are emerging. When temperatures heat up later in the year, comfortable outdoor living will become a high priority, according to a recent Houzz Australia Landscaping Survey, which found Australian homeowners are continuing to create spaces where they can enjoy their garden and also entertain. The survey of more than 5,100 Houzz users, who are in the midst of planning or have recently completed a landscaping project, found that more than half are upgrading their backyard (56 per cent), a third are updating their front yard (33 per cent), while over a third are tackling their entire yard (34 per cent).

Recent purchase of a home is the most common reason for upgrading outdoor spaces (32 per cent), particularly for complete overhauls of outdoor spaces or structures (36 per cent), followed by having the finances to make upgrades (25 per cent) and recent outdoor deterioration (20 per cent).

Australian backyards are turning into a gardening oasis (56 per cent), relaxation spaces (55 per cent) and entertainment ‘rooms’ (51per cent) and to make this possible, homeowners are incorporating features like patios and decks (65 per cent), barbeques (39 per cent), pizza ovens (13 per cent) as well as audio systems (13 per cent). For evening entertaining, seven in ten homeowners are also installing or updating lights to illuminate their gardens. Issues that are most commonly addressed by homeowners include privacy issues (48 per cent) and drainage/flooding (35 per cent), while in rural regions, wind is the next biggest concern (26 per cent), while urbanites are concerned with too much sun (20 per cent).

“Smart landscape design can solve real problems that affect a yard or home, from privacy and drainage to water use and energy efficiency, which is illustrated in half of homeowners enlisting the help of a professional during their substantial landscaping project,” Houzz Australia head of industry marketing, Tony Been said.

“A great landscaping professional can often provide the best solutions to these problems and turn your space into something you can enjoy for years to come,” he said.

Almost half of the reported garden upgrades include planting or replanting a natural lawn, while about a third of upgraders who already have a natural lawn are decreasing the size or removing it altogether. Achieving a new outdoor design (74 per cent) and reducing maintenance (51 per cent) are also the most popular reasons for the change. Homeowners are most commonly replacing their original lawns with garden beds, hardscape, and outdoor structures like decking, with one in ten installing a synthetic lawn into their yards.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • A helping hand: Half of homeowners are enlisting the help of a professional during outdoor projects or outdoor projects that require a complete overhaul (49 per cent).
  • Budgets in bloom: Over half of homeowners are budgeting $10,000 or more on their current or upcoming outdoor projects where professionals are involved (58 per cent).
  • Terracing and decking: Decking is the most common upgrade in outdoor structures (39 per cent), followed by patios or terraces (26 per cent). Adding or upgrading swimming pools and/or spas is similarly popular in both urban (15 per cent) and rural (13 per cent) areas.
  • New surface materials: Hardwood is the top choice among homeowners working on decking (71 per cent), while those using other surfaces rely on a diverse range of materials, with pavers being the most popular choice (55 per cent).
  • Backyard farm: Homeowners in rural areas are twice as likely to add or upgrade one or more farm elements during outdoor upgrades, than their urban counterparts (52 per cent versus 26 per cent) with almost a third of homeowners in rural areas adding chicken coops, compared to eight per cent in urban areas. Many homeowners are also joining the local food movement with more than half planning to grow edibles in their yard for the first time (53 per cent).

Hills’ Premium watering range

Hills Home Living’s new Premium watering range consists of hoses, nozzles, spray guns, connectors, reels and sprinklers and delivers watering solutions designed to benefit the gardening experience.

With a focus on ergonomics and hose connection performance, the range’s design style has come together in a way not seen before in this segment, according to Hills Home Living.

Careful studies, prototyping and testing has led to a highly consumer centric design, delivering ergonomically beneficial watering solutions to all users. The range also provides greater usability to people with grip, strength and mobility restrictions, while the design of the hose clamping nuts, with larger diameter and longer length, provides greater gripping surface, generating stronger clamping performance. A graduated flow trigger also provides the ability to accurately control the water flow rate.

The Hills Premium range has several new design features, including spray guns, boasting a unique hanging detail that allows for convenient storage when not in use. Rather than having to place the product on the ground, the hook allows it to hang on the handle of the Hills Hose Reel or fence. The soft moulding details are placed in areas of high surface contact for product protection when not in use, while the useful pivoting ground spikes on the underside of the ROTA sprinkler gives consideration to the end user’s needs.

Through improved hose clamping, precision moulding and connections, the range exceeds performance benchmarks and has also been pressure tested against leaks to prevent water wastage.

Fun growing fungi

Nearly 12 months ago Mr Fothergill’s took its first steps into the world of fresh mushrooms, providing Australian home gardeners and cooks with a classic White Button Mushroom Kit. Following the success of the White Button Mushroom kit, Mr Fothergill’s has developed another fresh mushroom kit in partnership with Sylvan Australia – experts in all things mushroom. The product is a high yielding Oyster Mushroom Kit which is easy to use, guaranteed to grow and includes:

Golden Oyster Mushrooms – Highly prized by gourmet chefs, this fast growing mushroom has a nutty flavour that complements light dishes such as chicken, pork, vegetables and rice. Pearl Oyster Mushrooms – mild, refined flavour and velvety texture. Perfect with chicken, pork and seafood or just grilled with salt and pepper. The Oyster Mushroom kits may be marketed as a way to guarantee maximum freshness and taste, and are also fun and rewarding for both children and adults to grow.


Yates product and packaging updates

Yates recently announced that it will introduce a number of products in spring 2016, as well as updating to the labelling and packaging of some products. Yates’ popular Dynamic Lifter (organic plant food) will receive a packagingupgrade in spring, to feature a flat bottom and press seal opening. For further practicality, the product will be released as a liquid in a 500ml spray bottle and one litre hose-on pack. According to Yates, there is a high demand for Australian Certified Organic products, with organic matter improving soil water and nutrient holding capacity. This demand has seen Yates use organic matter such as chicken manure, blood and bone, fishmeal, seaweed, fulvates and potassium in many of its products, including the new Thrive Naturals range, which contains over 50 per cent natural ingredients.

The range is tailored to a variety of applications and includes: Citrus & Fruit, Vegie & Herb, Tomato & Vegie, Roses & Flowers and All-Purpose options to become available. The organic Nature’s Way range has also been updated and will be available in both 750ml and one litre bottles from late spring. A new addition to this range is a citrus and ornamental spray, which is based on natural pyrethin and vegetable oil to control insects.

Yates is also implementing clearer labelling in 2016, ensuring that product names are reflective of their purpose so that customers select the right options. One example is the new lawn-care product Buffalo Pro, which is designed to feed notoriously difficult Buffalo lawns. Buffalo Pro is high in nitrogen and potassium, and will be available in a two litre hose-on bottle, feeding up to 150 square metres of lawn.

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A fresh perspective on soil care

Soil care is a strenuous job, even for the most expert of green thumbs and often leaves gardeners with the most unpleasant injuries including hand sores, splinters and body aches. It is for this reason that Fiskars has continued to design and engineer premium ergonomic products, and have developed yet another range to relieve gardeners from a toll-taking outdoor job. The new Fiskars Light range offers gardeners a selection of lightweight tools for planting, cultivating, raking, and other gardening tasks and includes a modern touch. The Light Series consists of four visually appealing, strong, and robust products including: a digging spade, a planting spade, a digging fork and a soil rake. The range is easy to store and carry, made from lightweight aluminium and durable steel heads; however it does not sacrifice on strength. The spades weigh just 1.2 kilograms, which is 50 per cent lighter than most spades on the market. The range’s key visual feature is its oval-shaped matte-white coated aluminium shaft, and earthy- brown SoftGrip handles. SoftGrip is a soft drop-shaped handle designed for an optimal splinter-free grip, while the anti-shock surface structures ensure that the grip is firm and comfortable. To further maximise that grip, the plastic sleeve along the shaft insulates from any cold.

Fiskars light digging spade

Pointed cutting edge for easier penetration to soil. Ideal for light digging in normal to loose garden soil.

Fiskars light planting spade

For digging planting holes, edging beds, and removing small amounts of soil. Ideal for light digging in normal to loose garden soil.

Fiskars light digging fork

Ideal for loosening and turning over soil, harvesting, and composting.

Fiskars light soil rake

Durable hardened head with 14 prongs for raking in larger areas. Ideal for preparing planting beds, levelling soil, cleaning, and spreading.

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Never bow down to weeds

Fiskars has also just released its Xact™ Weed Puller, which is specifically engineered to assist with the effortless removal of root weeds. The Xact™ Weed Puller eliminates the need for digging, bending, or using chemicals, while also preventing muscle strain and backache. Its simple design and ergonomic handle offers a generous metre of reach, allowing users to work with a straight back at all times. At its end, there are four deep-reaching stainless steel claws to grip the root firmly and efficiently. After pulling the weed out, the ejection system helps users to easily release the weeds, without having to bend down. Once more, the Xact Weed Puller’s ergonomics are complemented by its foot tread, which allows gardeners to use the defiant downward power that comes from the heel of the foot to penetrate the soil – relieving even more stress from the arms and back.

Pope refreshes its garden hoses

Pope’s iconic range of garden hoses just got better with the release of its refreshed range of new hose ends, sparkling new packaging and also new names for its garden hose varieties. Retailers will notice three different styles of hose end fittings, while the ever popular Handy and True Blue hoses have kept the same name. Tap Ready models also now come with stylish new fittings and packaging. Pope has also changed its soft grip TPR fittings to a hybrid plastic. The fittings have retained its comfy grip, but are firmer to the touch, making them more resistant to the sun’s harmful rays. This part of the range also sees anumber of changes to hose names. In keeping with the Australian theme, the former Tricoflex garden hose is now called Drover. Spectrum has been re-named Jumbuck and finally SuperFlex now goes by the name Billabong. Do not forget the Drover and Jumbuck hoses are also available in 18 millimetres.

Completing the family, Pope has also released a stunning new brass hose end connector which is also fitted to its new Brumby and Pope GroPro™ Storm hoses. With all the changes, customers can be assured of one thing remaining the same and that is the trusted Pope Perma Fit™ connection. This super strong crimp is secure and withstands high water pressure ensuring no leaks and no tightening of the fitting is required. Keep an eye out for more exciting new products that will be released later in the year. For more information visit: www.

Blooming good news for home gardeners

With spring just around the corner, home gardeners are busy planting seeds and seedlings galore. August and September is also the time to plant some of Mr Fothergill’s most popular summer flowering bulbs which promise a magnificent display of colour from early summer including: Begonias, Calla Lilies, Dahlias, Hippeastrums, Oriental Lilies, Tree Lilies and Water Lilies. Mr Fothergill’s recently offered Australian home gardeners a couple of new additions to its range including its Begonia (assorted) one tuber per pack and Dahlia Gambier Jane, with begonias, which are set to make great bedding plants for containers, hanging baskets and pots. Also new to Mr Fothergill’s range is three Tree Lilies (also called ‘Orienpet’ or ‘OT Lilies’). They are relatively new additions to the lily world, produced after years of efforts to combine the sublime beauty of the Oriental Lilies with the more garden persistent, heat tolerant and colourful Trumpet and Aurelian hybrids.

Mr Fothergill’s Summer flowering bulbs are also available from early August 2016 and include: Tree Lily Miss Lily, Tree Lily Mussasi and Tree Lily Sheherazade

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