Contemporary Garden Design Ideas

Contemporary Garden Design to Suit You!

Find out how to bring stylish contemporary garden styles into your own garden...

Easy tips and techniques to help you get the look....

For modern homes and urban gardens, a contemporary garden design is perfect...

...very stylish and design conscious - and it makes a real statement in your garden!

This page will look at the very minimal, modern and stylish type of contemporary design in the garden... fact, the most recent trends in garden styles are for sustainable and permaculture gardening, and an emphasis on gardening with and for nature - but this is more of a 'philosophy' of gardening, than a design style...

...and these themes can still be incorporated into this smart, modern look, that we'll learn about here...

Contemporary urban garden style is a formal garden style, which means it is:

  • simple
  • minimal
  • symmetrical
  • balanced

contemporary garden design ideas - stylish white and wood features and single color planting in a striking purple

A contemporary style uses lots of elements from a formal garden style, so read up on formal gardens here, first, then come back here to learn more about this modern, urban, garden design style.

This style works best for:

  • modern homes
  • town gardens

It's much more difficult to pull off the look in historic homes and gardens, and in rural settings...

...but in these places, a small, modern area can often work exceptionally well as part of a larger, more traditional, formal garden...

And if you have your heart set on a modern look you should definitely go for it anyway!

a contemporary garden design is ideally suited to a simple formal layout

How to Get the Contemporary Look

Contemporary garden design style is heavily influenced by general design trends for:

  • minimalism
  • urban style
  • industrial chic
  • conceptual and imaginative gardens

This kind of contemporary style garden is more about the structure, design and hard landscaping, than about the plants...

...the plants are important though - and also do have a certain 'look', which I'll help you with, a bit later...


  • Choose a formal design:
    • straight lines
    • symmetry
    • balance
    • repeated shapes and forms
  • Keep it simple
  • Create a structural framework for the garden, and a strong design (a formal style and design will help you to create this in your garden)

strong lines and simple style make decking an ideal choice for your contemporary garden design

Hard Landscaping

Hard landscaping is probably the most important aspect to the urban garden look!

Here we need to try to avoid anything too 'traditional', cottagey or rustic.

Modern materials are, of course, what's required.

  • Look out for clean lines and smooth textures:
    • polished stone
    • slate
    • concrete
    • natural (smooth finish) or painted wood
    • metals
    • plastics
    • glass
    • decking
    • gravel

  • a stylish contemporary garden design, with striking yellow chairs and interesting and modern materials used for hard landscaping - strengthened glass!

  • Also look out for unusual materials which you can incorporate into your garden - a bit of creativity and imagination could come in very handy here!
  • Use found metals and mechanical bits and pieces to give your garden a modern, industrial 'edge'...

    Position them carefully and artfully (in tidy rows is always good, if you're not sure, or as a central focal point)...

    ...we're aiming for contemporary and industrial, not scrap-yard chic, remember!!

  • Use color in hard landscaping (but sparingly in planting)...

    Unusual colors work really well on walls and other hard landscaping features. Use in big, bold blocks to create a strong color 'theme' for your garden.

    bold use of color is a really easy way to capture that contemporary garden design style - try it!

    Some modern color choices:

    • white
    • gray
    • black
    • any bright color
    • ...just make a statement with it!

      ...look out in particular for those nice magentas, teals, cerises, lilacs, that are a bit more 'unusual'!

    • Try to connect your hard landscaping and garden with your indoors in some way:

      • Your decking could continue from similar interior flooring
      • You could use similar floor tiles inside and out
      • Wall colors inside and out could flow together
    • Less is always more in contemporary garden design - use colors, shapes, materials and textures sparingly...

      ...and keep it simple!

    Contemporary Planting Ideas

    Contemporary urban gardens tend to use less plants than other garden types...

    ...but you'll need to use far more care and attention to choose the plants...

    Plants are important, but, like other parts of the design, do need to be used sparingly and chosen carefully!

    To keep the focus on the modern hard landscaping, use:

    Contemporary Garden Design Planting

    keep planting simple and structural for a gorgeous contemporary garden design

    • Choose plants for their shape and texture.
    • Evergreen plants will give the garden a continued, year-round structure, which is very important.
    • Consider using a single color for foliage and/or flowers, such as:
      • silver foliage
      • black (purple) foliage and flowers

      These will give a very dramatic and striking, modern look.

    • Tropical style planting can help to create the modern look - go for lots of lush exotics...

      use exotic planting, or at least non-native planting, to get a contemporary garden design look for your own garden

      Choose plants that are hardy where you live, or be prepared to provide winter protection for them.

      More help with tropical garden plants and style ideas, here...

    • Grasses are another great way to get a modern look.
    • 'Spiky' looking plants are also very suitable (I mean spiky in the overall shape, not prickly plants!)

    Plants to Try for a Contemporary Garden Design

    Spiky Plants

    • Cordyline
    • Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax)
    • Yucca
    • Agave americana
    • Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm)
    • Chamerops humilis (Mediterranean Dwarf Fan Palm)

    'Tropical' Looking Plants

    As above, also:

    • Fatsia japonica
    • Hosta
    • Eryngium giganteum
    • Bamboo
    • Ferns
    • Sedum

    More about tropical garden plants and design ideas, here...


    • Stipa gigantea
    • Carex buchananii (Perennial Sedge)
    • Uncinia rubra (Red Sedge)
    • Festuca glauca (Blue Fescue Grass)
    • Stipa tenuissima
    • Molinia caerulea
    • Pennisetum



    Learn more about creating a garden in a single color scheme

    You can use flowers in this style, but try to stick to one color and/or species at once, for maximum impact!

    a simple style with added drama like this with single color planting in purple is very modern and a very striking contemporary garden design

    Finishing Touches

    Less is more in a contemporary garden - but you do need some fantastic focal points to make your own style statement...

    Think about your design as a whole, and look out for something really modern and unusual to complement your design:

    • Sculpture
    • Garden 'wall art'
    • Water feature
    • Planters
    • Garden furniture

    a stunning illuminated water feature - makes a superb focal point for a contemporary garden design - and really comes to life when the sun goes down

    Find your own focal point for your contemporary garden design...

    Take a look on eBay to come up with some bargain ways to get a quality, contemporary look in your garden, for less!

    This is a constantly updated feed, direct from eBay - simply click on a product for more information or to bid or buy...

    Happy Bargain Hunting!

    If any of these recommended eBay auction products for your contemporary garden design do interest you, please support my website by using the links on this page to buy.

    The price to you is always the same, but I will earn a small commission. This allows me to continue to provide you with the information on this website, all for free.

    Thanks for your continued support :)

    Looking after your Garden

    As a formal garden style, a contemporary garden design will definitely need to be kept neat and tidy...

    ...but with fewer plants and flowers, and an emphasis on evergreen plants, this does not need to take too much effort!

    This contemporary garden style can be difficult to get right - you need to:

    • create a strong, structural design
    • keep it balanced
    • think creatively

    ...but the resulting garden should be stunning - and, done right, should create you a timeless garden masterpiece, which you can enjoy for years...!

    Another style of garden which works really well in a contemporary setting is the Japanese zen garden

    Why not start your contemporary garden design with a look at creating your formal structure

    More ideas for garden style and inspiration

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