The Definitive Guide to Contemporary Garden Design

Outdoor dining area with built in BBQ

Contemporary garden design is often one of the easiest styles to implement and suits most situations if designed correctly.

It’s important to note the difference between contemporary and modern design.

Modern garden design can be defined as minimalist. Generally, a modern garden space focuses more on the architecture and materials than on the plants to achieve structure and minimal aesthetics.

Whereas contemporary garden design is more eclectic in its style, utilising just a few selective plants and is a selection of on-trend staples merged to form both a stylish and highly functional outdoor space. Contemporary garden style is often more practical, and easier to maintain than a typical modern garden which is often barren and so minimal a lot of maintenance is needed to keep it looking that way.

In this article we’re focusing on design tips for creating a contemporary style garden, lowering the level of maintenance required, and boosting your outdoor space’s feel-good factor.

Layout Options for Contemporary Gardens

When you think contemporary, you think straight lines and you’d be right. To start forming the design, combine rectangles and bold squares for key areas as these two works perfectly. Overlap each shape with each other to connect the space together. For example, a rectangle patio connects to a secondary square seating area at the top of the garden via a straight pathway.

While straight lines are pivotal in a contemporary garden, some curves can be introduced and still maintain the style.

Curves or circles give a good sense of flow. One of the ways to incorporate curves into your garden is to add a circular seating area around a firepit for all-inclusive entertaining. (Think Love Island vibes).
The ‘gaps’ left over once you have your lawn, patios and other seating areas in place can then be filled with low maintenance planting or decorative gravels.

Steps up onto a sunny terrace

Paving Choices For The Main Patio Area

When updating your garden, you still need to bear in mind that it needs to complement your home. So paving choice is crucial.

Smooth sandstone and porcelain paving are the most popular choices when it comes to contemporary style gardens because of their clean, sleek appearance. Both paving choices are similar and easier to care for with porcelain actually coming out on top due to its low porosity as a man-made product. However, porcelain is on the higher end of the budget scale.

Choose large paving slabs, laid in stack bond (grid-like pattern) or stretcher bond (like how brick homes are built.) The uniformity of all large pavers screams contemporary. Avoid multiple sizes of paving when going for the ultra-sleek contemporary look.

Contemporary fire pit area

Other Material Suggestions To Compliment

Once your patios are designed, the rest of the garden needs to complement. White rendered walling is very popular for built-in seating or raised beds in contemporary style garden designs. Render creates a crisp, clean finish and is very popular among home renovators. Grey rustic walling works well if you’re looking to update your garden but not go too heavy on the contemporary influence. And timber plays a huge role in this style because it creates a different texture, creating interest without overpowering the style.

Colour Palette Suggestions

Contemporary doesn’t mean you need to choose grey or white for everything. You can still achieve an updated look with buff and natural tones – important to consider if your home is built from rustic red brick.
Traditionally, contemporary gardens use uncompetitive colour palettes in the planting. Mostly greenery with hints of white, purple and pinks. Our plant designer loves to inject a pop of orange into her plans for that extra wow factor.

Whatever colour palette you choose, grey paving and muted planting or buff paving and zesty oranges and red, the key point to remember here is to use only a maximum of 5 colours to avoid an overly busy look – an aesthetic not compatible with contemporary style gardens.

Low maintenance modern planting

Plant Selections

Although this style has minimal planting, it’s still important to consider what you are going to plant as planting can make or change the feel of your garden depending on what you choose. Architectural, no fuss specimens are best to select.

Phormiums, windmill palms, low grasses, box hedging and mound forming evergreen shrubs such a Pittosporum and Hebe are perfect for contemporary spaces. They hold the shape of the garden and require little maintenance.

Low hedging plays an important role, defining the space and the bold shapes, solidifying the architectural structures of the design.

Accessories For Styling Your Contemporary Garden

Choose minimal accessories in a similar style – A contemporary garden style features simple, uncluttered spaces. This doesn’t mean you need to skimp on personality, just incorporate items that reflect the style of the space.

You can’t go wrong with rattan garden furniture. Dress the space with a geometric garden rug, set out tea light lanterns made from wicker to create a mood. Why not swing festoon lighting from the fence or pergola if you have one. There’s a huge array of garden accessories on the market now but remember to keep them all to a similar style to achieve the contemporary look.

In Short

The main aim for a contemporary style garden is to bring your outdoor space bang up to date with both a stylish and highly functional design utilising a small selection of carefully chosen materials and plants.
The balance of layout, materials you choose, and the planting you select plays a vital role in setting the tone for your garden. Smooth paving, architectural planting and a restricting colour palette are great ways to achieve this style effectively.

You can check out more of our contemporary garden designs in our portfolio.

When you’re ready to renovate your dated garden, creating a space that not only looks great but works perfectly for you and the time you want to spend maintaining it, call our team on 0330 202 1955 to begin your journey with your free consultation today.

Keep Reading