6 Ideas for Creating a Contemporary Landscape


If you ever want to confuse yourself, take a look at all of the varying definitions of what constitutes contemporary design. Interior Designer Leah Rourke at relish interiors gives one of the best definitions: “Contemporary design refers to what is popular or used right now … it is ever changing and borrows pieces and styles from all different eras.” As such, it can be eclectic, changing from year to year. At the moment, it contains neutral colors, minimalism, texture contrast and curved lines. You can learn more about contemporary design here. If you enjoy this style, read on to learn how to apply it to the outdoors in a contemporary landscape.

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Contemporary Landscape Bare Trellis

Bare trellis walls retain a sense of minimalism. Image: Ian Moore Design

Geometric trellis walls

This garden fully displays what it means to have a contemporary garden space. While the trellis walls don’t have the curved lines you’ll normally see in today’s contemporary styles, leaving them bare like this can keep that sense of minimalism that defines current contemporary design.

In addition to the bare trellis walls, the stark gravel ground establishes a clean slate. The rock formation looks fairly minimalistic, as well. However, the plant life around the perimeters keeps the space from looking too unnatural.

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Contemporary Landscape Contrast Entryway

Create contrast by combining fencing materials. Image: CG and S Design-Build

Contrasting textures in contemporary landscape

Contrasting textures are a hallmark of contemporary design at the moment. You may notice that when strip malls, new apartment complexes or outdoor shopping centers are built in your area, there always seems to be a facade with boldly contrasting textures, like metal siding with wood elements.

You can take that idea and put it into your contemporary landscape. The photo above shows how a design combined naturally textured, knotted wood with a geometric metal entryway. It merges rustic sensibilites and industrial metal into a unique aesthetic all its own. The dark gravel and sparse plant life also keep the space looking more modern.

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Contemporary Landscape Light Color

Light colors work outside, too. Image: Green Tree Garden Design

Light/neutral colors

Another aspect of contemporary design is light, neutral color. You may feel as though light colors make an outdoor space look too sterile. However, the space in the photo above speaks to the contrary. The pristine white planters brighten up the area, while the light fence in the background extends the brightness throughout.

Wood seating areas and plant life counter the brightness by giving this area plenty of natural texture and life. They round out the space by providing contrast and visual interest.

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Contemporary Landscape Small Patio

Bold geometry helps create a sense of stark minimalism around a small patio. Image: Giulietti Schouten AIA Architects

Minimalist spaces

If you have a small patio space to work with, contemporary design was made for you. Since it favors minimalism at the moment, you can get away with a stark design so that you don’t leave your outdoor space looking too cluttered.

The contemporary landscape in the photo above makes good use of just a few clearly defined elements. The three small trees are outlined by stone that helps define the trees as their own element. The grass is kept short, and in a precise strip. And the unusual horizontal fencing lengthens the space visually. All of these elements work together to create a cohesive small space.

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Contemporary Landscape Stone Design

A round stone pathway is an easy way to get those curved lines. Image: Folia Horticultural + Design

Getting creative with stone

Another way to get a contemporary space is to use stone. The space above makes great use of round gray stones. They create the sense of curved lines that you see in current contemporary design. They also complement the cement balls at the end of the pathway.

Meanwhile, the square stepping stones add geometric (and texture) contrast so popular in today’s contemporary design. The natural bushes only add to this, with their leafy natural vibe against the hard stone.

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Contemporary Landscape Sculpture Fence

Sculptural elements can be both functional and stylish. Image: Archer & Buchanan Architecture

Sculptural details

If you want a contemporary landscape, try adding sculptural elements. It’s an easy way to incorporate curved elements in an otherwise natural landscape. Use sculpture to achieve contrasting textures, or mix materials for an enhanced effect.

The fence above is a great example of maximizing your contemporary details. The winding pattern creates the curved lines seen in contemporary design, while the gaps lend a sense of minimalism.

Do you crave a contemporary landscape? Which elements appeal most to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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