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Modern Garden Design
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Modern Garden Design

Modern garden design enables functional elements of the landscape such as walkways, motor courts, and patios, to work as integrated portions of the landscape rather than typical stand alone elements. We see this a great deal in contemporary landscaping, where features are characterized by very stark geometry and abstract forms. Inorganic themes define the yard, with the organic only serving as a frame or connector of significant geometric design elements and outdoor forms. Gardens are kept to minimalist proportions so they may serve a master plan that whose design promotes human consciousness over the aesthetics and free-standing forms of nature.


In a modern landscape, the garden tends toward the inorganic in element and design. It exits to support manmade forms and home architecture, not to showcase natural elements as aesthetics in their own respect. Darker foliage is the norm here because it contributes to the sense of stark absolutism that distinguishes the modern landscape. Plants such as boxwoods and mondo grass are normally used for linear plantings running adjacent to walls, such as those commonly found in backyard design. Modern garden areas can also be installed inside hardscape structures themselves. This involves removing entire sections of concrete, blocks, or stone and installing plants in their place. The resulting outcome suggests that nature has now been contained within the boundaries modern human progress, and that forms of nature itself are now subject to human engineering and construction.

A modern garden can also be used to create a perimeter around a significant contemporary landscape element. Modern fountains, for example, are normally very important features in contemporary front yards and backyards. By adding a circular planting around the base of a fountain, we can strengthen its sense of form and draw attention to its presence. In a similar manner, the linear elements of contemporary wall fountains can further accentuated with low-profile plantings that emphasize strong lines at the base of the fountain and geometric angles inherent to its design.

A large number of custom homes today are built with an eclectic blend of architectural themes and are not purely contemporary or modern styles, per se. A garden here will have to be a bit more organic and diverse in its design to the extent that some aspect of the home or yard that requires an additional decorative touch. For instance, many multi-story custom homes are constructed with second story patios and rooftop areas distinguished by a high level of linearity and symmetry. We can magnify these attributes by planting a traditional garden style—such as Italian or Mediterranean—and adapting its form and proportion to support the principles of modern design.

In the same fashion, more organic lawns require gardens that add color with flowering plants, and contribute a sense of vitality and expression to front and back yards. The degree to which we use color and variety in such a garden will depend on factors such as the size and proportions of the house, the color of its façade, the materials used to construct the home and other exterior structures, and the number of trees within the yard which by their very presence require a more organic aesthetic to support their own.

Modern garden design ideas such as the ones discussed in this article should only be developed by licensed landscaping architects or landscape designers who are familiar with the complexities inherent to this very challenging style where organic priorities are almost determined solely by inorganic demands, and where garden installation and proportion are predicated on manmade geometry and structural forms.

For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston’s fine neighborhoods.

Modern Landscape Design

Modernism, in the context of landscape design, is a result of forms and functions that reflect the need for outdoor living spaces that enhance contemporary lifestyles. As Garrett Eckbo, one of the central figures in modern landscape architecture, said, landscape design is the “arrangement of environments for people.” Contemporary garden design tends to focus on scale as opposed to formal landscape designs that are based on axial relationships. It also

Modern Tropical Garden

If you own a contemporary or modern-style home in the Houston area, you can call Exterior Worlds to create a tropical garden whose design adds a touch of paradise to the abstract motifs that characterize contemporary design. Our tropical gardens are custom installed to support not only to home architecture, but to key points of interests, special structures, and outdoor works of art on display. We have access to some

Modern Courtyard Design

The intent of modern courtyard design is to emphasize the power of human consciousness over the forces of natural selection. Its purpose is to elevate thought above feeling without destroying feeling, and to elevate the value of abstract ideas to the level of concrete forms typically regarded as the empirical basis for reality. In modern courtyard design, we want to create visual tension and interest by creating areas of alternating

Modern Home Garden

Modern home gardens are contemporary corollaries that either directly reflect or indirectly compliment the architecture of a contemporary or modern style home. As we have discussed in other articles of our website, contemporary and modern architecture are aesthetics that exists primarily on the mental plane of consciousness and as such tend to shy away from embracing too much organic presence. They also tend to avoid the use of recognizable forms

High End Modern Landscaping

High end modern landscaping adds tremendous value to both residential and commercial locales. What differentiates these landscapes from standard modern and contemporary designs is their very intentional use of geometric shapes, exceptionally high-grade materials, and thoughtful selectivity when it comes to choosing plant species for gardens and ground cover. Where we see the modern landscape designer seeking to support architecture from a complimentary point of view, the high-end landscape architect

Modern Outdoor Lighting

Modern outdoor lighting places heavy emphasis on architecture in such a way as to create a sense of living outdoors. It is more effect oriented than function oriented— as if the feeling of being inside has been taken from the home interior and placed around structures and gathering places throughout the yard. Selective illumination is then spaced around trees and gardens to distinguish the organic nature of outdoor space from

Modern Garden Ideas

On one level, all modern garden ideas are based upon a common set of core values. Like other components of modern landscape design, they consist primarily of inorganic elements. Structure is a symbol of conscious thought; plant life symbolizes the energies of life and mind. A tendency to use hardscapes as containment fields for Spartan plantings of vegetation is clearly evident. This works to thematically express the belief that man

Small Modern Gardens

One of the best things about a modern garden is that you can build one almost anywhere on a landscape. It can be constructed as an accent to building architecture, an adjunct spatial compliment to hardscape design, or the creation of a special environment for people to relax and enjoy a break from the routine. Spatial challenges are resolved by scaling materials and geometric patterns down to a size that

Modern Water Gardens

Modern water gardens combine the organic with the mathematical and the abstract. The purpose of anything modern is to place the mind of man over the forces of nature. Since we typically associate nature with greenery, the use of plants around a modern water garden has to be minimal and highly selective. Hard straight lines, sharp right angles, abrupt intersections, stark rising forms, and linear movements that occasionally fan at

Modern Outdoor Garden

Modern outdoor gardens are the backbone of modern landscape design and contemporary landscape design. These designs minimize the importance of organic features in landscape architecture and look instead to geometric forms, relationships between geometric points, and sophisticated materials that communicate a mentalist and highly subjective aesthetic. The geometry used is always that of familiar geometric shapes or derivative forms thereof. Quadrilaterals are favored linear forms that allow gardens to follow