Exterior Worlds
Contemporary Landscape
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Contemporary Residential Landscaping

In the front yard, contemporary residential landscaping devotes the majority of its attention to supporting home architecture. Landscape elements are developed with linearity and angularity to reflect the movement and design of the house.

Gardens, if present, will be very minimalist in content. Geometry is emphasized above the organic in order to better support the custom design of the house. Sometimes a traditional style of garden design is used as a template, but distorted to fit the proportions and scale of the home. Organic elements will be scaled back and replaced with either low growth plants or inorganic garden décor.

Contemporary residential landscaping designs typically feature this type of distortion in order to propel the mind into the realm of the abstract. Concrete reality is never completely ignored. However, it is never adhered to strictly in the traditional sense of the term. Concepts of reality are more important than forms of reality.

Consequently, the front yard of a contemporary home may very well feature amotor court, a walkway, and a fountain just like any other yard. However, the geometry and material build of these elements will be noticeably different than what you would expect in front of a home built with more traditional architecture. There is a sense of stark proportion and minimalism that permeates everything.

This emphasis for strong forms, combined with minimalism, is what allows contemporary residential landscaping planners to customize so many different types of landscapes for wealthy custom homeowners. Because the properties involved are always so highly unique, no two plans are ever alike.

However, by establishing a sense of Spartan minimalism in the landscape design plan, any subsequent elements added to the property will convey the basic values of contemporary landscaping design: namely mind over matter; man over nature.


Back yards normally require a scaling down of vegetation to achieve this effect. Large tracts of grass are often removed and replaced with gravel. If the home is light in color, the gravel should be dark to provide contrast, and vice versa. Also, hardscape design is another key element to backyard contemporary residential landscaping. Patios, terraces, seating areas, interconnecting walkways, and rotundas are commonly used for both functional and ornamental effect.

Considerable effort is also made to accommodate the artistic tastes of the homeowner. We seldom find a client with a contemporary home who does not have an art collection. Because many contemporary pieces are made to be shown outdoors, it is very important to create a landscape design plan that will accommodate the showing of outdoor art.

Special display areas are created to showcase sculptures. These displays can be anything from small, elevated pedestals to a custom patio where portions of the surface are raised to house art. Gravel beds are another way to showcase free-standing art because they create a pattern on the ground that is both eye-catching and geometric.

You do not see an abundance of vegetation in contemporary residential landscaping. That is not to say there is no plant life at all. Rather, gardens are small, with low-growth and slow-growth plants. Most trees are also small in order to avoid overshadowing the home. Vegetation is almost always contained as well in order to emphasize man’s control of nature.

Special planters rising out of the hardscape, sections of patio removed for small trees, and concrete retaining walls with a stark, imposing façade are common methods of achieving this effect.