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Contemporary Style

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
12 March 2016   |   2:33 am
Modern landscape design has quickly gained ground in popularity. Clean lines, bold patterns and new use of materials all play a part in this fresh style.
Contemporary garden design includes aquarium which brings liveliness and color to garden.

Contemporary garden design includes aquarium which brings liveliness and color to garden.

Modern landscape design has quickly gained ground in popularity. Clean lines, bold patterns and new use of materials all play a part in this fresh style.

A modern or contemporary landscape is defined by its emphasis on strong structural and graphic elements of clean lines and unusual materials. It is bold, often stark, with strong visual lines running throughout and with the hardscape playing a much more important role than the plantings. It also appeals to modern sensibilities by blending the indoors with the outside world.
Surprisingly Adaptable Modern or contemporary landscapes really came into their own alongside modern and contemporary architecture in the mid-1900s. The style and its applications have evolved. It is surprisingly adaptable working well with varieties of architectural styles; with Asian, Desert, Natural and even with some adjustments, Cottage designs. Modern landscaping is often thought of as being ‘showy’ or dramatic, but it can also be very subtle. Crisp clean lines are an intrinsic part of contemporary design, which can be applied to either small or larger gardens. Equally important is the use of space, geometric layout and the absence of too many fussy details and clutter. This all adds up to a garden that could be the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle-dynamic yet relaxing. Plants become just one part of the architecture- think clipped hedges, specimen trees and simple blocks of planting.

Low Maintenance And Calming

People have discovered how well a modern landscape fits into a modern lifestyle. With its simplicity and clean lines, the modern garden can easily become a relaxing and calm retreat. Because there is more of an emphasis on the hardscape, contemporary landscape are generally more low maintenance. An added bonus is that a contemporary landscape also tends to be much more drought tolerant.

Geometric shapes as well as concrete and gravel are hallmarks of contemporary design.

The plant palettes in contemporary gardens typically feature bold plants that are simple but interesting. Spiky plants like agaves and aloes may be contrasted against feathery plants like ornamental grasses, ferns and slender palms.

Contemporary garden design prompts us to approach an outdoor space in the same way we might do an interior design project.

If its referred by the concept, the minimalist garden design and the minimalist house design have the same principle of concept, which is characterized by the presence of the vertical and horizontal lines in the design of the minimalist house and garden.

The main areas to look at when planning your outdoor space are the way you will define spaces, the materials you plan to use, furniture, planting, lighting, privacy.

Defining spaces (functions)

What do you want to use your garden for and how are you going to design it to suit? While plants are an essential part of any design, so too is the layout, which should take into account the following points: if you want to include a terrace for entertaining and socializing dining al fresco and the ubiquitous barbeque, you’d obviously look to focus effort on seating and dining area, but you should also consider outdoor lighting to ensure you can stay out in the garden into the evening. If it’s an area to relax and escape with a book, your choice of garden furniture will obviously change, but you should also give thought to elements like screening out any overlooking gardens and windows, as well as noise if possible. If there are children, the demands on the garden is another to consider that will change as they grow. You might want to incorporate a sandpit for example, but it can easily be transformed into a pond later. Where would you put essentials, like dustbins, a shed or washing line and how will you gain access to them if they are stuck at the back of the garden? You could lay stepping stones across the grass or to create a path. This can be screened off with shrubs, a hedge, or bamboo. Using planting or garden structures to create separate areas for kids, vegetable patches etc, is a great way to get a little more out of your garden space. The key is to decide on how you plan to use your area before you embark on a garden design project. Now that you have considered all the elements you want to include in your newly designed garden, you need to think about style. If you are a working couple with limited time to do gardening, a formal or chic style may be the answer, with paving instead of grass, raised beds, evergreen and topiary in containers.

Contemporary garden design

Contemporary garden design

Use of materials

Think past the norm when it comes to materials. Glass and mirrored surfaces can give an impression of space, as well as tying in with interior elements. Steel, aluminum and other metallic elements can look harsh in isolation, but blend-in well in garden spaces as they reflect the elements around them.

Huge choices in the materials used to create your outdoor space now exist and how you choose can have a big impact on both the look and the feel of your garden.

Obviously, the more maintenance your garden requires, chances are the less time you will have to actually relax in it. Although swapping lawn areas for maintenance free stone or deck can seem a little harsh, using planting can ensure you still have a good amount of organic growth, while dramatically reducing upkeep.


Contemporary design and modern materials have brought much more choice where garden furniture is concerned. There are weatherproof forms that can be left in situ year round (essential for those with no storage) and flexible multipurpose pieces that make the most of your available space.

Modern garden can now be complemented by very cutting edge architectural furniture, created from materials like aluminum and glass. On the other side of the coin, modern materials have allowed the creation of modern synthetic wicker and rattan furniture, which look more traditional and can help soften a modern outdoor space, while remaining weatherproof.

Complementing the trend of extending your living area, popularity of garden sofas, coffee tables and even garden beds has grown in recent years and these pieces work to increase the social focus of your contemporary garden. Furniture can define a garden’s purpose and where space is at a premium, should be chosen carefully. While it is sometimes fun to follow trends, the lime green and orange cushions that are so popular in modern gardens right now can easily overwhelm the design of a space. Instead look to your planting palette for cues. Repeating a color found in an ornamental grass or flower or paving is more personal to your landscape, and won’t go out of fashion next season.


When it comes to planting a popular methodology when it comes to contemporary garden design is simplification. The removal of large lawn areas and continuous planted borders in favor of more strategically placed elements can help to create a clutter-free look to your garden and will also reduce maintenance, so it fine! Use architectural plants to help define areas of your garden and create focus. Plants with bold silhouettes have a clean look which feels appropriate next to the architecture.

Grasses and bamboos are easy to care for and fast growing and can help define area of your garden or cast shadows come evening. The use of large garden planters for your organic elements can work well where no planting area exists (i.e. in many urban gardens/courtyards) and means the plants can be moved around to different effect as your requirements change (or as your plants grow).

Though hardscapes may play a leading role, plant choice is still a major factor in a modern or contemporary landscape.

Ideally, most should have an architectural character (think phormium or blue fescue) with foliage in shades of green, or gray or purple. Though colorful flowers and plants can be use in this style of landscaping, they’re most effective when treated as accent pieces.

Planting Style Neatly organized lines of stiff, sculptural plants are the norm in many contemporary landscapes. There’s no reason to feel stuck with rigid, architectural plants. Your plantings can have a loose, alive or playfulness, liveliness, and warmth. You don’t see a lot of perennials in modern gardens, you can create a contemporary landscape that is less space-age and more suited to the welcoming indoor – outdoor lifestyle modern gardeners are trying to create. Flower color warms things up a lot, and combines well with the color from ornamental grasses. Using perennials wisely is a more friendly approach. Perennials can get a little loose and messy looking, so you need to use them strategically, but they can really soften a corner or a walkway.

Building large architectural planters (from brick/heavy wood) can work especially well when building in perching areas to maximize seating for extra guests and lifting up your planting areas means you don’t have far to bend when tending to your plants. Enclosing a planting seating area with architectural planting can help make an area intimate and inviting, especially if flanked by neighboring gardens or overlooking windows etc.

Liveliness Of Nature

The liveliness of nature also elevates the elegance of a simple design. Water is a common element in a modern landscape. Water features are sculptural elements in and of themselves. Gardeners should be encouraged to put fish in their water features to create an exciting ecosystem and subtly introduce color and life. Water is often used to create reflection, movement or sound.
Native Plants and Pollinator – attracting perennials also play a part in bringing balance and connection to a structured contemporary space. The visits from hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumbling bees provide lighthearted addition to the garden that keeps it from becoming static.


Contemporary landscapes are designs as an extension of the home, and with busy modern schedules, the ambience at night is as important as during the day.

Modern garden lighting really comes into its own when defining areas within a contemporary garden space. Used to pick out detail and draw the eye to extremities of your garden, the shadows cast in low light can add drama to your outdoor space. Lighting does not have to be electrical, natural light from wood burners, fire-pits, candles etc. can create focal point in your garden and work well as a hub when using a space to relax with friends.


Unlike your living room, neigbhors may overlook your garden, so creating privacy is important if you want to relax properly outdoors. Areas can be screened with strategic planting (which can take a while) or by using purpose made garden screens. The great thing about garden screens is that they can be moved around as your need changes, so can grow with your garden.