Contemporary Garden Ideas - Backyard Boss
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Contemporary Garden Ideas

Designing the right garden space for your living situation can sometimes be challenging. What elements should you include? What plants? What colors should you design around? What if you like a contemporary garden, not the traditional English gardening style?

While I can’t provide you with an extensive how-to on each of the designs, I can offer a beautiful selection of ideas for a contemporary garden with some tips and specifics about what makes something modern in style. Hopefully, one of these will spark some ideas and help you on your way!

Clean Cut Patio with Modern Furniture and Minimalistic Designs

Backyard with nice, modern patio and furniture
Image credits: Barry D via Pixabay

For your garden space out back, consider mostly clean-cut shapes, modern furniture, and minimalistic designs. Instead of flooding the space with many planters and colors, pick one more neutral tone and theme everything around it.

Squares and Cubes – Straight Lines

Large backyard with pool and palm trees, clean lines
Image credits: Dimitrina Rumenova Kolarova via Pixabay

The thing with modern designs is always squares and cubes, straight lines. If you’re looking for a truly fresh look, consider flat edges, squares, straight lines, and cubes. The patio shape? Square or rectangular. Planters, same. Also, avoid bright, vivid colors and go for those clean, smooth, neutral shades like black, white, and gray.

Zen Garden

Zen garden
Image credits: pepe nero via Unsplash

So, technically, Zen gardens are ancient in concept, but they’ve become popular in contemporary times thanks to the heightened awareness of the need for self-care and mental health needs. These gardens may take up the whole backyard providing plenty of meditative spaces or can be a small corner of the lot dedicated to this place of self-care.

Yoga Garden

Woman doing yoga in garden
Image credits: rishikesh yogpeeth via Unsplash

Not unlike the Zen garden mentioned earlier, the yoga garden also focuses on meditation and all things wellness. The difference, though, is soft surfaces or flat platforms designed specifically for performing your yoga routines alone or with a little help.

For the yoga garden, you can create a small section of your outdoor space with this in mind or turn the entire backyard into a fitness garden space – your choice.

Cactus Garden

Multiple cactus planted in sand against white wall
Image credits: Taylor Simpson via Unsplash

If you’re looking for a contemporary garden without much upkeep, then consider the cactus garden. You’ll plant the cacti, manicure the sand initially, and then just water occasionally and sweep the sand off the path.

Succulents Garden

Succulents in garden with stone
Image credits: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Similar to the cactus garden, but a little “lusher” in looks, you’ll find the succulents garden requires only a little more maintenance. The beautiful plants do well in a wide range of environments and can be planted either directly into the soil or kept in pots for those climates not quite so warm in the winters.

Raised Planter Boxes with Contemporary Art

Contemporary art in raised garden planters
Image credits: Jan Haerer via Pixabay

This image is from a public space, but the principle is similar to your home garden. Create elevated flower and planter boxes, filling them with the plants you’re in love with. Before they grow up, place some unique, modern, or contemporary-looking outdoor art to add that contemporary feel.

Chic Multi-Level Patio Garden

Chic garden patio area with multiple plant types and levels and stairs
Image credits: Marzenna Gaines via Pixabay

If you don’t have a lot of space or just happen to like multi-leveled spaces, creating your unique tiered garden is a beautiful idea. Build the garden up with planters, platforms, decks, or practically anything to create a gorgeous, modern-style garden. Be sure to keep clean lines and boxed edges, though, for that distinct modern look.

Recycled Materials Garden Art

Close-up of metal flower sculptures
Image credits: Mikes-Photography via Pixabay

There’s nothing more contemporary and “in vogue” than doing the planet a favor. So, with recycled or upcycled materials turned into garden art, you’re winning on both fronts: a beautiful space and helping the planet. If you’re artistic yourself, you’ve got a world full of materials to work with. If you’re not so much, there are great places to find these works of art, like Etsy, eco-conscious gardening shops, and even thrift stores.

Chic Raised Garden with Pools and Fountains

Gorgeous hedge and plant garden with fountains
Image credits: Santiago Boada via Unsplash

When you look at this photo, it’s been taken in a large, non-private location. But that doesn’t mean we can find inspiration here. Using the same concepts of raised planters on pedestals, fountains pouring down into precisely shaped pools, boxes, and squares – they’re all perfectly suited to a contemporary garden.

I see this design spilling out from a modern home into a well-manicured backyard (or front yard, even), edged with hedges at the back kept immaculately trimmed and shaped into boxes.

Hedge Garden

Contemporary hedge garden against public brick wall at night
Image credits: Kent Tupas via Unsplash

Though this photo also clearly comes from a commercial or public space, the inspiration is there, nonetheless. For this contemporary garden idea, think boxy shrubs against any brick or concrete wall you’ve got. If you don’t have one, this can be part of your installation. Build a simple backdrop from concrete blocks, paint it white, black, or gray (if you want to keep to truly contemporary styles for this neutral yet gorgeous look), then plant unusual but boxy shrubs directly against the wall. It’s a little like ivy just with a contemporary twist.

Modern Hybrids

lavender colored rose on dark background
Image credits: Goran Horvat via Pixabay

A unique take on the contemporary garden is using modern hybrids only. Find flowers and plants like this Blue Moon rose that have been created in the past two decades and plant them. Just make sure you keep things tidy, minimalistic, even. Don’t overcrowd the plants, spacing them fairly far apart, and using clean lines for the design.

Bohemian Chill Zone

Bohemian style seating area in garden with colorful cushions and cage seating with flowers
Image credits: Dean Moriarty via Pixabay

Though the Bohemian vibe has been around for quite some time now, it’s definitely a contemporary choice once again. From casual throw pillows on a comfy couch in unique, vibrant patterns to a cozy “cage” seating area like this, a few simple touches can turn any garden space into a contemporary paradise.

Small Sculpture Garden

Sculpture garden with two humanoid metal statues
Image credits: F. Muhammad via Pixabay

Most of us don’t have the budget to commission high-end artwork like this. However, we can find some unique pieces we could sculpt our modern gardens with. Add a few larger pieces and maybe some smaller works, then a few simple, smooth boulders, garden rocks, and clean-line plants.

A Blend of Elevated and Sunken Garden Boxes

aerial view of contemporary garden space with multiple levels and decks, stairs
Image credits: Marzenna Gaines via

Closely related to the multi-level garden is the elevated and sunken garden box design. If you can build patios and paths like this with elevated steps, you’ll find sunken gardens are just lower boxes than the rest. If you’re not, you can dig some trenches and finish them with beautiful planters like these.

Go with Artificial Grass

Artificial lawn in front of modern house
Image credits: 小谢 via Unsplash

It’s a simple concept and doesn’t flesh out the whole idea for your garden, but adding artificial turf is a simple, reasonably fast way of upgrading a lackluster garden to a modern chic look. The grass is always bright, you don’t need to water it, and it works perfectly with the square edges of modern design.

Add a Clean, Smooth Patio and Fireplace

Patio with table, chairs, small tree and fireplace
Image credits: Davinder Sangha via Pixabay

One of the most stress-reducing, comfortable things you can do to upgrade that plain old garden patio area is a fireplace. If you don’t already have a square-edged patio, install one of those, along with some sharp, neutral furniture and a beautiful, clean-line fireplace like this one. It transforms garden spaces from spring and summer only spots to nearly year-round places for gathering.

Center Around a Modern Water Fountain

Brick and metal tube water fountain
Image credits: Peter H via Pixabay

Whether you have a lot of space or a small garden zone, adding a modern fountain with metallic touches and square edges will upgrade the garden. Center in on the fountain and create outward, ideally, to create the perfect, modern garden.

Build a Concrete Garden

Concrete patio with boxy seating areas
Image credits: Andrei Ianovskii via Unsplash

If you’re someplace where a traditional garden doesn’t seem like a great idea, or you just don’t want a lot of maintenance, follow the lead on this “concrete garden” set on a city high rise. Concrete planters for a well-manicured hedge privacy fence, beautiful wooden boxed table, and chairs. You can use this basic design for the city, suburbs, or countryside.

“Pave” It in Gravel

Xeriscaped area with potted plants
Image credits: Amy Humphries via Unsplash

Whether you’re going for full-on xeriscaping or just don’t want to mess with a lawn, “paving” your backyard with gravel is a great, modern twist to the backyard garden. Secure plants in chic planters you love, deck out the space with comfortable lawn furniture, and voila. An almost zero-maintenance garden your neighbors will wish they’d thought of doing.

Go Simplistic and Elegant

Aerial shot of mansion and grounds
Image credits: Victor Smits via Unsplash

Okay, so most of us don’t have mansions like this one and no tennis court and 8-car parking spaces. But the concept of this beautifully manicured garden and yard space could be applicable anywhere. Focus on a few specific plants – gorgeous trees and shrubs, maybe a flowering bush or two – and otherwise, keep things open, fresh, and clean.

Squared, Even, and Clean – Contemporary Gardens

Whether you combine a squared-off water fountain and a sculpture garden or go with a combination Zen and yoga garden, you’ll find mixing and matching touches will take your contemporary garden to the next level. I’m eager for the day when I can mix it up again myself, and I might try talking my mother into letting me redesign her backyard with some of these ideas.