How to Create a Contemporary Garden for a Modern and Inviting Space

a seating area under a pergola that is painted black and lots of plants

Are you looking to create a modern garden design? If you like modern design and have a contemporary interior style, then a contemporary garden could work well and elevate your entire home.

Additionally, modern garden design styles can work very well if you are limited in outdoor space and have a small garden. It can help make your garden look and feel bigger which is a good option for those with small gardens living in cities.

Contemporary Garden Design

a contemporary garden with patio, seating area, a living wall and water feature

Contemporary garden design generally involves creating different zones, sharp lines, and simplicity as well as bringing the indoors outside. Gardening has come a long way since the traditional English garden with its abundance of flowers and ornate structures.

Today, there is a growing trend towards creating contemporary gardens that are sleek, stylish, and minimalistic. A contemporary garden can bring a touch of modernity to your outdoor space and create a peaceful sanctuary where you can unwind after a long day.

Here are a few modern garden ideas that should help you to master this look;

1. Use Bold Geometric Shapes

One way to incorporate a modern style into your garden is to be bold with shapes. Bold and unique shapes are a key element when creating a contemporary garden and they are quite easy to incorporate:

  • Choose geometrically shaped planters such as rectangular, square, or cylindrical planters.
  • Create geometric plant beds with contrasting textures and colors
  • Incorporate hardscaping elements such as patios, pathways, or walls in geometric shapes. Square pavers help to create a modern-looking patio and a rendered wall with sharp lines and painted a neutral colour can add to that contemporary look. Using geometric tiles in the garden will complete the look.
  • Add metal sculptures with geometric shapes or a rectangular mirror.

2. Simplicity and Minimalism

patio area with a little flower bed of lavender and grasses

These are key design elements when creating a contemporary garden. Start with a plan before you begin designing your garden as this can help you avoid clutter and unnecessary elements in the design.

In a contemporary garden, less is more. Keep the space open and uncluttered by using minimal furniture and accessories. This can help create a feeling of spaciousness and tranquillity.

3. Use of Focal Points

a fire pit with sofas around it
A fire pit is a great focal point in a garden!

Focal points can help create a zen-like space in the garden by providing a contrasting element that stands out from the rest of the design. This can help create a sense of depth and dimension in the space.

Identify a key design element in your garden, such as a sculpture, water feature, or unique plant. This will be the focal point of your garden design.

Position the focal point in a location that is visible from multiple angles and draws the eye towards it. Consider placing the focal point near an entrance or along a garden path and using contrasting colors or textures to make the focal point stand out from the surrounding elements in the garden.

A good example is placing a brightly colored sculpture against a neutral background.

4. Use Zones

a wooden pergola sits over a large patio space with contemporary garden furniture
The use of a pergola and fencing in this corner of the garden helps to zone this space. Image credit: @my_neutral_place

One of the most prominent features of modern garden design is the use of zones. Splitting up the space into different areas can help you maximize the space and create a sense of order and organization, making the space feel more cohesive and structured.

It can work particularly well if you can create different levels, especially if you are limited in space. You can use treated timber sleepers to create zones for planting flowers and other plant life, which will help to add some color and life to your garden.

5. Have a Soft Colour Palette

black metal garden furniture on the decking with slatted fencing in the background
The bold lines of the garden furniture create a contemporary look. Image credit: design_at_nineteen

You also want to think about the kind of colors that you use in the garden. To achieve a contemporary look, you will want to use a soft color palette to create a calm and relaxing feel in the garden.

There are many ways to use color in the garden. Choose plants with a neutral color palette and have foliage in shades of green, grey, or white.

Choose hardscaping materials such as concrete, stone, or metal in neutral colors as they tend to be sleek, and modern and provide a neutral base for other design elements. Use materials with contrasting textures such as wood, gravel, or slate to add dimension and depth while still maintaining a neutral color palette.

Finally, think about the color of your furniture and accessories. When selecting furniture or accessories, opt for neutral colors such as white, black, or grey. These colors can create a cohesive and sophisticated look in the garden.

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6. Think About Planting Carefully

a bench on a patio next to lots of ornamental grasses

Leading on from this, you should always take some time to carefully consider what you will plant in the garden. To create a contemporary style, you want to be smart with your use of color.

Bold colors can make the garden pop, but you do not want anything that will clash with the other colors that you use. Additionally, you might want to grow your own fruit and veg as a way to be more sustainable, eat a healthier diet, and save money on your groceries.

The best plants for a contemporary garden include:

  • Structural plants like Boxwood, Japanese Holly, Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Cypress Trees and Hornbeam
  • Ornamental grasses such as Feather Reed grass, Blue Oat grass, and Fountain grass
  • Succulents and Cacti like Echeveria elegans (Mexican snowball), Sempervivums, Agave Americana, Aloe aristata and Sedum “Burrito”
  • When it comes to flowers in a contemporary garden, less is often more. Rather than using a wide variety of flowering plants, it’s best to select a few that fit with the overall design and color scheme of the garden. Good examples include Allium, Lavender, and Agapanthus for their structural nature.

7. Contemporary Garden Furniture

Contemporary garden furniture often features clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and a focus on functionality and comfort.

Contemporary lounge chairs for outdoor use often feature sleek, minimalist designs that emphasize comfort and relaxation. Materials like metal, wood, or weather-resistant synthetic materials are often used to create durable, low-maintenance furniture.

Daybeds are another popular choice for contemporary garden design as they provide a luxurious and comfortable place to relax outdoors. If you do not have the space for a daybed, a corner sofa and a patio umbrella with a base can be an excellent addition. It offers stylish shading with adjustable height to create a comfortable and inviting outdoor space.

Finally, fire pits are a popular addition to contemporary outdoor living spaces and are often made of materials like metal, stone, or concrete. Some fire pits may also feature built-in seating or tables for added functionality.

8. Lighting

a garden with LED strip lights in decking and fairy lights around trees

LED strip lights are a versatile option that can be used to highlight walkways, garden beds, or architectural features. They can be installed on walls, along paths, or even underwater in ponds or water features.

Outdoor wall sconces can be used to provide ambient lighting and highlight the architectural features of the garden. They come in a range of styles and finishes, make sure you choose sleek and modern designs.

9. Patios and Pathways

large pavers in the garden with benches, a rendered wall painted white and lots of trees
Image: Next Luxury

For a contemporary patio, make sure it is paved with large, rectangular concrete pavers laid in a grid pattern. The pavers should be a light, neutral color that complements the surrounding landscape. You could look at bordering the patio with a low concrete retaining wall that doubles as seating.

Another contemporary garden idea is to edge the patio with large, potted succulents or cacti and light it with LED strip lights or rope lights.

A contemporary pathway design is similar to the patio and features clean lines and minimal ornamentation. Again, the pathway can be lit with clever lighting and have intervals along the way with large boulders, metal sculptures, or modern planters.

10. Water Features

a contemporary garden with patio and water feature

Water features can add a soothing and peaceful element to a garden while also creating that all-important focal point. Some water feature ideas include:

  • Infinity edge water feature – The water flows over the edge of a rectangular pool or trough and disappears into a hidden catch basin.
  • A Water wall – This is a striking contemporary water feature that can be used to divide spaces or create a focal point in a garden. It consists of a vertical wall or panel of glass, metal, or concrete with water flowing down its surface.
  • Reflecting Pool – This is a calm and serene water feature that can create a tranquil oasis in a contemporary garden. It reflects the surrounding landscape and adds a sense of depth and dimension to the space.
  • Tiered Fountain – A classic water feature that can be updated with a contemporary twist. A sleek and minimalist design with geometric shapes and clean lines can create a modern and striking focal point in a garden.
steel water feature ball on pebbles in a garden
I have seen these steel water feature balls become increasingly popular on Instagram! Sphere Stainless Steel Water Feature with Lights – Primrose

These are a few of the best ways to create a modern garden space in your own backyard. A contemporary garden design can look fantastic and can work well with small spaces, which is ideal for those living in urban areas.

A modern garden style can be both practical and stylish and will work very well if you also have a modern interior design style. It can also provide numerous benefits for homeowners, including low maintenance, improved outdoor living space, increased property value, enhanced curb appeal, better use of space, and sustainability.

By incorporating contemporary design elements and focusing on simplicity, you can create a beautiful outdoor living space you’ll want to spend all your time in. 

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

I also use Artificial Intelligence Image generators to create some of my images. These are to show you examples of my ideas and inspiration when I cannot produce the real images myself.

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