Exterior Worlds
Modern Garden Design
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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 has mastered the forces of his own mind and is capable of controlling his own destiny.

The geometric patterns that constitute the foundational aspects of modern garden ideas are very basic inn and of themselves. There are four essential forms that can be used in this discipline. Linear lines and structures are very often used to decorate iron fences, stone walls, or the exterior of a home. Quadrilateral constructs are used to extend the architectural themes of outdoor buildings and custom swimming pools designed in rectangular form. Triangular designs can be very effective in introducing abstract sculptures to the eye. Circles represent both feminine form and spirituality and are often found around trees and fountains.


Due to the fact that inorganic elements form the basis of all modern garden ideas, it is necessary to begin the planning phase of every project with a detailed survey of the property. This will help us identify the best locations in which to do our work. These areas will in some way always be tied to some sort of hardscape. Patios, walkways, decorative walls, and even motor courts are all in effect foundations for design. Many of these locations are adjacent to significant structures like the house or an outdoor kitchen. Reconstructing the hardscape with new organic elements adds a new dimension of energy and vitality to the architecture of the structure that subliminally communicates a sense of outdoor living experience so crucial to any kind of landscape architecture, be it contemporary or traditional.

Since the whole point of landscape design is to create this sort of outdoor living experience, is also important that we focus our attention on any decorative focal points and all major areas of activity. In gathering places, modern garden ideas are developed as emblematic expressions of the activities that transpire there. A patio area around a pool, for example, is normally the scene of a great deal of movement. People do not just sit around the pool. They get up and walk around, and most get in the water, or at least put their feet in it. A garden here would feature decorative patterns in the hardscape and careful plantings of vegetation that would reflect movement toward the center of the pool. Whether or not these patterns would feature linear, circular, or rectangular geometry depends entirely on the shape of the pool and the patio itself.

On the other hand, accenting decorative focal points on the landscape requires a slightly different approach. Modern garden ideas here are determined by what works best as a supportive element that brings attention to the decorative element. If it is a statue, vertical elements may be added to the hardscape and vegetation to draw the eye upward to the form. If it is a fountain, a garden will normally function as the aesthetic base of the entire piece, making it appear as if the fountain itself rose up from the amalgam of hardscape and plant material as a blend of fluidity and form. Again, the patterns and materials that are used to construct these adjunct supportive elements are developed in accordance both with the immediate form at hand and an aesthetic awareness of the landscape as an entirety.

Regardless of location or intent, the ultimate success of every design depends on a very careful and deliberate selection of vegetation. Too much organic presence destroys the essence of the design, so an intentionally minimalist approach must be taken. Dark colored vegetation is preferable because it works better with the stark absolutism of stone and hardscape. Trees should be small and isolated, almost as if they were stunted—to indicate the control of human consciousness over the otherwise unlimited growth potential of nature. Color schemes in modern garden ideas should be treated with the same minimalism. Colorful, flowering plants should only be used to the extent that surrounding modern art or contemporary architecture uses color to develop style and theme. Any more than this will risk losing the deliberate tension inherent to modern garden ideas and contemporary landscaping in general.