Today’s modern gardens usually use straight lines, sculptured plants and a minimalist geometric approach but often, they can look uninviting. This does not have to be the case. Designing a well-organised, contemporary outdoor space can be entirely friendly and welcoming but also have the added elements of spectacular modern design and handsome, sleek lines. When landscaping your garden from scratch, there’s a lot you can do in advance. Knowing what you like and what you want is a great starting point. It’s a good idea to look at other modern gardens for inspiration. Garden magazines or Pinterest have plenty of perfectly manicured, modern spaces to peruse or take inspiration from visiting garden shows. Then, you might want to get a few different suggestions drawn up. With years of experience, West Hill Garden and Landscape has some valuable insight into designing a modern landscaped garden:
Consider Natural Styles of Planting
Many modern gardens feature rows and rows of stiff, sculptural plants because of their interesting almost minimalist looking structures but these can look unimaginative and too contrived. Yes, they are often far more maintenance-friendly than flowers that need dead-heading and re-planting seasonally but you don’t need to design a modern garden with just sculptured plants. You can also use plants that gently sway in the breeze, that come in different shapes and sizes and look livelier. This gives your space an inviting feel. Movement is very important; too many stiff, architectural plants will make your space look smart but unfriendly.
You Can Use Colour
Think about using colour as this really draws the eye – for modern spaces; keep it to two or three similar shades. A vibrant garden is appealing but too much colour can look fussy, not in-keeping with very modern outdoor spaces. However, colour warms up a space that is very green, and modern landscaped gardens tend to be filled with greenery.
Perennials are ideal to warm up a stark modern space and don’t have to be reserved for busy, traditional gardens. Consider placing them along a walkway or in a corner to soften it
One of the common problems with modern garden design is it can look too sterile. Yes, plants with bold silhouettes can be show-stoppers and work well with modern architecture but too many of similar bold plants just won’t give your garden texture. You need different textures and colours to soften hard landscaping.
We would always advise avoiding astro-turf, while it is practical for some; it never looks quite the same as natural grass that moves in the breeze. As well as lawn areas, ornamental grasses are excellent for creating movement and texture in modern gardens.
Patios and Walkways
Lots of modern gardens use large slabs of concrete patio in greys and silvers. While attractive to look at, when designed with architectural plants they can look very hard and cold. To breathe life into your walkways and patios, use colour subtly. Choose concrete with two colours, for example, pebble and sandstone combined together is far warmer than one, solid colour. Porcelain paving is hardwearing and elegant and brings focal interest too as it doesn’t look as flat as concrete stone. Decking is an option but be careful what you choose because it doesn’t have the longevity of stone and as the UK is notoriously wet and cold during the autumn, winter and even springtime, decking wears very quickly so it needs a lot of care. For the best possible decking that lasts longer than traditional decking, try Millboard Decking, it’s low-maintenance, long-wearing and it’s made from a combination of natural timbers with resin and mineral stone. It looks fantastic!
You can also introduce sleek and clean looking planters planted out with a little colour to soften hard lines of patio and introduce warmth and movement. If you have fencing, you could consider an oiled wood look and use a finish that is warm to add an extra dimension to your space. Or, if you prefer not to use fencing, think about using decorative but modern garden screens to add depth and the illusion of movement.
Your lighting is very important, especially if you plan to use your garden during the evening or watch the sun go down on a long, summer’s night. Lighting also softens hard lines, but be careful with what you choose. Nowadays LED’s aren’t restricted to that harsh, blue light of old and you can buy warm shades of LED’s which give a fabulous glow, especially when reflecting leaves and patio stone. Avoid cool-toned lighting and while it’s tempting to purchase ultra-shiny modern lighting, actually these types of lights can be too hard if you want to create a comfortable, welcoming space. Why not look at bronze fixtures? They’re much warmer, blend beautifully with planted areas and the right type of bronze light fixtures can look exceptionally modern.
Perfect Finishing Touches
The best way to inject your own personality into a modern garden is through furniture and furnishings. It’s wise to steer clear of steel looks as they can be too industrial, especially if your space is very minimal, with little colour. Wood is ideal for adding warmth to a modern space and it can look entirely inviting to sink into plump cushions on rattan chairs! Add splashes of colour with garden cushions in rainbow shades, these draw the eye and instantly soften any hardness in your garden. Remember, anytime you add colour you draw the eye, you do still want your garden to look modern so be mindful not to add too many colourful touches. Stick with one or two colours to be on the safe side and co-ordinate your colourful touches with your flowers and plants.
Bring Life In
You already have life in your garden through your grasses, plants, flowers and trees but adding a modern water feature if you have the space is a superb way of bringing in the liveliness of nature. It also creates an ecosystem and adding in fish introduces life. Even a sculptured water feature gives the illusion of softness because the water introduces movement and flowing shape.
Attract nature with pollinators, by having a garden with butterflies, birds and bees, you instantly prevent it from looking too static and then there’s the fabulous backdrop of low-noise from birds and bees that gives your garden movement and liveliness.
Speak to a Professional
On a final note, every landscaping project will require some upheaval which is why it’s useful to plan ahead. Decide on your budget and where you want to allocate it, this could be on building structure, planting, lighting and hard landscaping. If you don’t know what you want or you’re unsure what’s involved, it’s worth speaking to a professional. Employing West Hill Garden and Landscapes will make sure that you get a stunning modern landscaped garden within budget.