Exterior Worlds
Modern Garden Design
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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 of the most exotic plants in the world and the expertise in botany that is required to create a sustainable living system that can flourish in the predominately inorganic realm of modern landscaping.

The extreme juxtaposition of luxurious plant growth set against the stark backdrops of sheer white walls, stone walkways, and limestone gravel makes modern tropical garden design one of the most eclectic styles of landscaping in the world. The manmade structures and abstract geometry of contemporary architecture and landscaping are offset by a controlled presentation of vegetation whose iconic significance stimulates the imagination with images of the wild, the exotic, and the remote. These gardens are very different from their traditional equivalents, which are characterized by a fluidity of boundaries and an overabundance of life. By contrast, modern tropical gardens are designed to contain this feeling of lushness within strict geometric boundaries and small, controllable spaces.

Establishing this sense of containment requires us to choose tropical plant species that will grow symmetrically within the garden boundary and appear proportional to their surroundings. Tropical plants with large leaves are often installed in special places to serve as counterbalances to home architecture and custom hardscapes. Such plants by nature grow upward more than outward. Not only do they add a vertical linearity to the aesthetic of the property, but they also tend to better remain within intended boundaries. Bamboo and palm trees are very good plants to use for these purposes.


Because modern landscape design deliberately subordinates the organic to the inorganic, it is very important to make certain that the growth factor of tropical vegetation does not overshadow the fundamental purposes of modernism. Contemporary themes are exclusively humanistic and dedicated to the elevation of human consciousness over all that which is perceived to be untamed, primitive, or less evolved. Tropical plants can prove very challenging to the modern landscape architect, because in their native habitats they tend to grow rapidly over the entire surface of the ground.

However, there is another attribute possessed by tropical plants that makes them ideal for modern garden design, and that is their ability for many different species to grow to one another without choking each other out. This allows the scale of the garden to be reduced to a size that is appropriate to the scale of the overall property and respectful of home architecture. Of course, plant selection must be very precise here in order to maintain the emphasis on contemporary design.

Because modern architecture relies on stark geometry to convey states of consciousness, tropical plants have to be chosen on the basis of the natural geometric patterns that constitute their forms. What works best near the house may not work so well near the fountain or the pool. Garden design must follow the angles and linear movements of adjacent buildings, masonry, and hardscapes in order to remain true to the ultimate purpose contemporary landscaping.

This is why, in most cases, modern tropical gardens must be scaled considerably to match the surrounding landscape design. Building them with smaller dimensions allows us to create highly unique and individuated spatial experiences where greenery enhances stonework, gravel, concrete, and masonry. It is not uncommon for planters to be built as recognizable geometric shapes that compliment the lines and curves of walls, walkways, stepping stones, and custom patios.

Developing a modern tropical garden in this manner allows organic design to play a specific supporting role for each particular landscaping element in the yard. The combination of customized geometry, exceptional masonry, and careful choice of plant material allows the landscape architect to create a multitude of organic themes that work with—never against—the inorganic elements of the modernesque landscape.