Modern Landscape Design

Modern landscape design offers a clean, uncluttered appeal.

Dutch Modern

Dutch Modern

The plantings in this Dutch garden typifies the Modernist style. Rectangular pools mirror the sky and water beyond the boundaries, and echo a slab-like bed of tall Miscanthus.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Modern landscape design is defined by clean edges and an uncluttered look. This landscape design style can be a great fit for a property with a contemporary or modern home as well as a refreshing juxtaposition to a more traditional architectural style.

Designing a modern landscape plan has as much or more to do with materials than it does with the plants. Often, modern landscaping features concrete paths, patios, steps and even planters – all combined with wood or metal accents. Earthenware such as brick or pottery distracts from the modern landscape style’s lines, so concrete or tiles (cutting into shapes with right angles) are the top choice for modern landscape design plans.

The nice thing about filling a yard with concrete (just not the whole yard) is that it can be easier to maintain. Plants are used symmetrically (i.e., potted plants in neat rows or a pair flanking the front door) and are meant to soften the hard edges of modern architecture and add a pop of color. A grass lawn can be the majority of a modern landscape or can be used as an accent if paths, gravel-filled beds and steps make up the bulk of the design.

Pale colors and plants with a distinct form work best. Wild and wooly shrubs, wandering vines and flowering shrubs don’t fit the aesthetic. Mixing too many types of plants together can immediately make the design look traditional. Stick with one or two types of plants for the entire modern landscape design plan. Japanese boxwoods, bamboo, foxtail ferns and mountain laurel are popular choices for easy-to-maintain plants for modern landscapes.

No matter which materials or plants you choose, think of their placement in terms of geometry: How do each of these pieces fit together? Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts or will certain areas of the landscape design be focal points? Always think in rectangles and squares. Curves don’t work – and meandering pathways are a sure way to spoil the purity of the aesthetic.

Modern landscape design is very popular in warm climates because it lends itself well to open spaces with outdoor furniture. If you plan to use outdoor furniture in your modern landscaping, keep in mind that the geometry rule applies here, too: be a square.

Less is more may sound like a cliché, but when it comes to modern landscape design, it’s the truth.

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