Creating Modern Outdoor Living Space with Contemporary Landscape Design

Contemporary landscape design is a relatively new garden style that complements modern architecture and is just as unique as the structures it surrounds. Near the end of the 1950′s, new styles in architecture brought about a more modern style of landscaping to match it.

contemporary landscape design

Vivid colors and abstract patterns, combined with unique uses of lighting, textures, and space, create an outdoor space that magnifies the beauty of nature with the sophistication of modern living.

Diminishing yard space in today’s affluent communities and the rushed, fast-paced lifestyle of present day society have made trends toward modern garden design even more popular. Contemporary landscape design is creative and chic with a variety of options that are ideal for all types of yards.

Many modern landscapes incorporate extensive hardscape designs to minimize upkeep while creating a functional outdoor living area and plant life is integrated in several different ways, including trendy potted gardens for small outdoor spaces.

contemporary landscape design The most important thing to remember if you are planning a contemporary landscape design for your modern home is to create clean lines that complement the architectural style of your home.

Extend the materials, colors, and textures found within your home to your outdoor space and artistically include sculptures, water features, and other innovative additions to reflect your personal tastes. Modern designs take nontraditional outdoor elements and use them in just the right way to make the most of your home.

Materials Within A Contemporary Landscape Design

Regardless of the garden style you choose for your home, the materials used for hardscape design and the types of accessories you select are key elements in blending your outdoor living areas with the look and feel of your house.

Contemporary garden styles are defined by a variety of synthetic materials that express the simplicity of nature in innovative, often unusual, ways.

contemporary landscape design

Simple wood beams in natural colors that complement the outside of your home look wonderful over patios and are a great way to blend your indoor and outdoor living areas.

Canvas is a unique material to create shade around your outdoor living areas. Many modern gardens lack large trees and can become uncomfortable at certain times of the day.

Terraces, patios, and pathways can be made from simple materials like gravel, un-grouted stone and tile, or intriguing pebbles in complementary hues. Some contemporary gardens are primarily made up of these hardscape materials with limited vegetation.

Raw concrete is another popular material for modern hardscape design and is often used to create a vertical effect within the garden, especially with walls.

Other materials found within a modern landscape design may include contemporary metals like stainless steel and nontraditional plastics and synthetics that bring a new look to the outdoors.

Contemporary Accessories for Modern Gardens

The furnishings, accessories, and decorative accents used in your contemporary landscape design can be as unique as your individual personality. Modern outdoor spaces are imaginative and can push the limits of decorating by using ordinary items in new ways. Consider things like abstract sculptures, glossy metals, and colorful urns.

contemporary landscape design Colorful furnishings with unique designs, similar to those found within your home, are ideal for your modern garden. Stainless steel tables, vivid metal benches, and seating in a variety of shapes can give your outdoor areas a contemporary flair.

Geometric planters and pillars with clean lines and neutral colors are great accents for paths and patios.

Eastern, or oriental styled accessories add a relaxing element to modern style. Asian urns and oriental rock gardens are popular in many modern homes.

Contemporary outdoor lighting is cutting edge, including color changing LEDs and fiber optics as well as abstract bollard lighting. Planters and furniture with built in lighting are popular and outdoor lamps that look like those inside your home bring a unique flavor to your landscape design.

Water features are also common accessories in a modern garden design. Stainless steel wall fountains, creative spillways, and minimalist pools with crisp angles accent a contemporary home and add tranquility to your garden.

Color is used in a variety of ways in modern designs. Contrast between dark and light shades plays a big role in establishing a contemporary feel within nature, while natural hues, unfinished materials, and the brightness and purity of white accent outdoor life. Deep browns, like espresso, and bright, vivid reds, blues, and yellows are all commonly seen in contemporary outdoor furnishings and accessories.

Plants and Vegetation in Contemporary Gardens

Unlike most garden styles, plant life is not the center element of a contemporary landscape design. Some modern gardens limit plants and flowers to unique planters and pots, leaving most of the design to be filled with hardscape elements and accessories, while some are following a greener trend with lush green walls of evergreen shrubs and mass plantings.

contemporary landscape design

Grass is an important part of most modern landscape designs. Ornamental varieties, like mondo grass, are favorites.

Topiaries and shrubbery with clean lines and geometric shapes are also common. Plant life is often used to bring in new textures and new shapes within a contemporary garden.

Bamboo, agave, a variety of palms, and other exotic plants with large, irregularly shaped are ideal. Limited space and small yards can appear full of life with mass planting techniques that layer a variety of flowers and shrubs into a small area.

Modern architecture and small outdoor spaces have increased interest in contemporary landscape design. Many property owners opt for a professional designer to ensure a modern look that incorporates just what they need in outdoor living, while blending elegantly with their contemporary home.

Self-proclaimed blogger and founder of Landscape Design Advisor, I've traveled the world visiting famous gardens and their owners in the search for landscape design ideas that I can share with others. Many of these ideas can be found in my recommended eBook called Ideas 4 Landscaping.
Allen Quay
View all posts by Allen Quay
Allens website
  • Ellen M.

    We’ve found that many designers prefer to use lightweight contemporary planters in their landscape designs in order to easily move the planters from one part of the outdoor living space to another. This accommodates weather and seasonal changes while also providing flexibility in lifestyle. The large variety in shapes, sizes and colors also provides an abundance of choices for designer and client.

    • Allen Quay

      We agree Ellen and in the past few years there have been a huge improvement in the quality of lightweight planters. They are becoming very difficult to tell from the heavier “real” ones. It’s funny… every time I walk by a planter I tend to knock on it to see if it is made from traditional solid material or the new lightweight stuff. I’m surprised at how many times I’ve been fooled. Has this happen to anyone else?