When looking at a collection or portfolio of modern and contemporary garden designs, you’ll notice a few key things: simplicity, functionality, and utilisation of space. We would know, we’ve helped clients all over England design and create their own, one-of-a-kind modern outdoor oases.
If you’re thinking about a garden makeover, check out these contemporary garden design ideas and tips. We’ve covered everything from planning through to the final, finishing touches.
1. Create a clear and structured layout to work outwards from. As we’ve said, functionality and utilisation of space are key in modern garden design. To achieve a space that’s both, you’ll need to create a plan. Take stock of what you already have, what you need and what you want. Start with a focal point (for example, a sitting area or water feature) and design around that. Plants and furniture that are on the outskirts of your garden will naturally fall into place and complement what’s at the centre.
2. Keep a muted colour palette. Contemporary gardens tend to stick with lighter shades like white, beige, and grey. Luckily, the natural building materials that lend themselves to this style of garden tend to be on the lighter side. Think concrete, granite, sandstone and limestone. More on that later!
3. It’s all about bringing the inside, outside. Your garden – regardless of its design aesthetic – has to be usable. Make the most of your outdoor space by creating outdoor rooms, especially if you’re one to entertain. We’re fond of outdoor kitchens with sleek fixtures. Nothing says ‘modern’ like stainless steel appliances. But, don’t be afraid to incorporate fun extras like wood-fired pizza ovens that aren’t overly modern.
4. Use custom designed and built-in furniture to maximise functionality. Whether you’re revamping a small garden in the heart of London or a sprawling space in the country, it’s still important to design intelligently. Think about dual-functions and how to make your furniture work for you. Add storage to a bench or create a seating area that doubles as a dividing wall.
5. Create a connection between the garden and your home. While your garden doesn’t have to mirror your home, it should complement it. Work to create a dynamic space that’s still consistent with your overall aesthetic.
6. Don’t be too trendy (simplicity is key!). A modern garden should be refined. Avoid jumping on fleeting trends in order to create a more timeless, elegant space.
7. Replace softwood and hardwood with composite decking. The finish of your garden – in particular the building materials – should be smooth and linear as opposed to textured. Also, in terms of functionality (there’s that word again!) composite decking is easier to maintain and virtually indestructible.
8. Opt for painted rendered walls instead of brick walls. Again, in designing a modern garden, you’re looking for clean lines and muted colours. While speckled, red brick walls might work in a cottage garden, they’ll look out of place in your contemporary space. With plain rendered walls, you can create a strong backdrop for the rest of your garden.
9. Get creative with fencing materials.Innovation and modernity go hand-in-hand. Instead of traditional materials, use red cedar battens or glass balustrades.
10. Install heaters so that your space can be used year-round. If you’re going for a modern garden, you might as well take advantage of modern technology. Install small, wall-mounted heaters to maximise your space and keep it toasty enough for you and your guests to enjoy even during the coldest months of the year.
11. Use inset lighting to maintain the streamlined look. Luckily, rendered walls are perfect for inset lighting. The fixtures are discreet but still contribute to the mood. (See #15!)
12. Play with updated water features like letterbox and sphere fountains. A Victorian-era cherub fountain has no place in a modern garden. Instead, stick with the themes we’ve discussed and opt for something that makes sense in your space. If you’re in need of a centerpiece, add a striking, geometric glass or limestone water feature. If you’re spatially limited, consider a more refined, stainless steel letterbox water feature.
13. It can be sleek and still child-friendly. Don’t commit so much to the principles of modern garden design that you sacrifice your family’s enjoyment of it. By sinking trampolines into the ground and using artificial turf, you can create a space that both children and adults will love.
14. Play with plants. We couldn’t talk about gardens without mentioning plants! Instead of planting wildflowers, opt for trimmed hedges, potted plants, and plants that add something architecturally to your garden. Check out our blog about the best plants for modern gardens for more ideas.
15. Install lights that work with the mood and the season. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again! If you’re designing a modern garden, you might as well take advantage of modern gadgetry. Choose basic or minimal lighting or express yourself through synchronised or multi-colour lighting. With remote controlled LED lights, you can easily adjust the lighting to display your garden in the most beautiful way possible. On a cold winter night, dim the lights for a more relaxed, ethereal feel. For a summer BBQ, get the party started by switching on lighting sequences.