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Design ideas for modern gardens

Modern gardens are smart spaces with plenty of sleek lines, streamlined shapes and sophisticated style. They usually emphasise hard landscaping features more than plants and trees, meaning they’re often low-maintenance too


Planning

Planning

Modern garden design means different things to us all. There are endless possibilities, so think about which styles and features appeal most to create a modern look that works for you.

  • Geometric shapes and repeating patterns create a controlled, organised look
  • For a more unfinished and industrial style, opt for pared-back details like metal screens and zinc planters
  • Create a varied and diverse space by incorporating a mix of different textures and surfaces such as utilitarian concrete, high-sheen metal, no-frills gravel and natural stone

Once you’ve decided on what you want to achieve, you can begin planning. Think about the style of your property and how to integrate your chosen look. See planning your garden project for a step-by-step guide to making a plan.


Design

Design

In a modern garden, there are plenty of creative possibilities for strong design with lots of interest and variety, from sculptures and planters to furniture and firepits. Also, look for contemporary twists on traditional designs like deck panels and trellis in unusual geometric patterns.

Wickes Contemporary Deck Panel

Shape and height

Get creative with natural materials by trimming and pruning hedges and plants into statement forms or choose plants with a natural structural shape. You can also create geometric patterns through hard landscaping in your decking, paving, paths or patio. Tall planters look great in chunky, blocky shapes or go in the other direction and sink beds into gravel or decking.

Using colour

Use bold statement colours for vivid accents, a limited, neutral palette for a more minimalist look or black and white to create standout contrast in colour as well as texture, such as dark-coloured gravel set against light paving slabs. If you’re feeling adventurous, garden art like a painted mural or even graffiti can make a wonderful focal point.


Lighting

Lighting

Make the most of your garden long into the evenings with the latest ideas in garden lighting. Modern garden torches and post lights with stainless steel detail are great for highlighting your garden features and LED deck lights are ideal for adding atmosphere while defining walkways and steps.

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Garden furniture

Garden furniture

Choosing the right furniture can really elevate your chosen look, so it’s a good idea to invest in some statement pieces that will complement their surroundings. Look for sculptural designs that are beautiful as well as functional.

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Enjoy cosy evenings

Enjoy cosy evenings

A fire pit is the ultimate addition to a modern dining set. Great for entertaining, many fire pit, smoker and BBQ designs would perfectly round off a modern industrial look too.

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Create shade

Create shade

Go a step further than a parasol with a free-standing canopy. They have the edge when it comes to modern style and many even feature a retractable roof.

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Hard landscaping

Hard landscaping is used to make clear distinctions between areas to create contrasting zones. Use different materials, heights, colours and textures to define each space. You don’t need to keep your zones completely separate, sometimes the standout design feature is an element that connects two areas. For example, a stone path that links two clearly delineated areas of grass and gravel.

Materials

To create a streamlined space, think sleek, hard materials for a contemporary look. Edges don’t have to be straight, smooth curves and circles work well too – modern style is all about clear boundaries and clean edges. Key materials include concrete, metal, gravel, slate and wood, all of which is remarkably versatile.

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Decking

Decking

Decking will add a beautiful and functional space to any modern garden. To keep yours looking good as new, make sure it’s properly sealed with decking oil. You can add interest and focus by marking out the boundary of your decked area. Simply create a contrasting border of striking, tropical greenery or set gravel around the edges. Have a look at our decking ideas for inspiration.

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Patios and paving

Patios and paving

Popular materials for paving a contemporary patio include rectangular concrete pavers and wood deck tiles, which can be arranged in a variety of geometric patterns. For a full guide, see our patio ideas.

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Paths

Paths

Be creative – sink geometric paving slabs into a pathway, create a grid design with a mix of grass and paving or gravel, or wooden steps with gravel, to name just a few possibilities. Gravel is a key look for a modern garden, it’s brilliantly versatile and low-maintenance too.

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Sheds and outbuildings

Sheds and outbuildings

More than just a storage space, you can tie in any outbuilding with your garden for a contemporary look using paint, cladding or clever landscaping. For further inspiration and advice, see our shed & outdoor storage ideas.

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Water

Water

A water feature is an excellent way to transform the overall look and feel of your garden. Modern styles use geometric shapes, simplistic materials and waterfalls to add another dimension to your outdoor space.

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Soft landscaping

Plants

Plants

Contemporary gardens tend to be fairly minimalist, so you don’t need a lot of plants. This is all the more reason to choose carefully so the ones you select add to the overall design. You can use plants as accents to provide contrast and colour and they’re another effective way to mark out a space in your garden. They’ll really stand out against hard, man-made materials and strong shapes.

Choosing the right plants

Succulents and ornamental grasses are good choices for a contemporary garden. Succulents come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and will add a sense of drama while ornamental grasses are great for adding greenery and texture along a path or fence.

  • Group plants for impact. Arrange them by type to get layers of colour and texture
  • Variety is key. Use architectural, textural, spreading plants and container plantings
  • Aim for one or two tall plants for height plus a mixture of mid and low-level plants with some of them soft and flowing (grasses are ideal) to mix it up
  • Choose plants that either have a strong structural shape or can be clipped and pruned into statement forms
  • Make the most of beds and borders – edge them for a neat, manicured look. Gravel borders work well too
  • Don’t get hung up on straight lines. Use looser designs but within the clearly defined structure to accentuate the boundaries even more. Try cascading trailing plants over the clearly defined edge of a flower bed for a waterfall effect and wild grasses look good next to strong geometric shapes like steps
  • Contrast green plantlife with stark architectural elements such as stone raised beds full of abundant foliage or plants in metal planters
  • Groundcover is another good way to mark out an area of space. Perennials and shrubs form an attractive carpet and can be put to good use in a modern garden, especially when you’re looking for stylish, low-maintenance options
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Garden how to guides

Garden how to guides

Get the garden you’ve always wanted with our collection of step-by-step guides. From growing fruit and vegetables to building a bee hotel, we’ll show you how to complete a wide range of garden and landscaping projects.

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