17 Contemporary garden design ideas that will spruce up your outdoor space

We’re all familiar with traditional gardens: they’re awesome spaces to stay in and perhaps remind us of our childhood homes. But if you want to create something different – specifically contemporary garden designs – you’ve come to the right place!    

What is a contemporary garden?

contemporary garden design

When discussing contemporary gardens, think less is more: minimalist and low maintenance. Contemporary gardens usually feature stone, hardwood, or steel materials. They also employ the use of sleek planting patterns and geometric shapes. 

Contemporary gardens have fewer plants, colours, and accessories than traditional gardens. A contemporary garden design is best suited for residential properties. It tends to be confused with modern garden designs, which are similar but more suited to commercial properties and businesses. 

How do you create a contemporary garden?

The materials you’ll need for contemporary gardening are largely similar to when you want to go into traditional gardening. You’ll need seeds, soil, pots, a water source, and more. 

But the most important thing to remember for contemporary gardens is this: Planning your landscape is key. Every planter, piece of furniture, and decoration should all work together to create a sleek, minimalist space that you and your loved ones can enjoy. Scroll down for some aesthetic ideas! 

Contemporary garden design ideas

1. Opt for a contemporary, sloped garden design. 

This is applicable for gardens on uneven landscapes such as hills or slopes. Designing sloped gardens can be a bit tricky. Still, you can embrace this unique feature of your space by building a retaining wall, creating a terrace for your garden, or adding some stone steps.  

sloped garden design

2. Use a few large containers instead of small, mismatched ones.

Everything must look organised, in line with contemporary gardens’ sleek style. No room for clutter here! Trade your quirky plant pots for more toned-down, structured, and geometric styles. 

plants in large containers

3. Use white plant pots. 

Looking for more minimalist contemporary garden designs? A white and green colour scheme is the key to getting that fresh, inviting atmosphere. For an added touch, you could also choose all-white furniture. white plant pots for contemporary garden

4. Use natural materials. 

Make use of wood and stone for that polished look! 

wood and stone designs for a garden

5. Choose architectural plants. 

If you’re wondering what plants to grow in your contemporary garden, architectural plants, also known as “structural plants,” can help add focal points to your space. Some contemporary garden plants that fall under this category are: 

  • Ornamental grasses 

  • Elephant Ear 

  • Horsetail Reed

  • Yucca

  • New Zealand Flax

architectural plants in contemporary garden

6. Decorate your garden with topiary. 

Topiary in your lawn adds an artistic feel to your contemporary garden. These shrubs or trees are clipped into clearly defined shapes for that contemporary look!  

Plants commonly used in topiary include:

  • Boxwood Bushes 

  • Lavender Trees 

  • Ivy 

  • Privet Shrubs 

  • Laurel Plant 

  • Rosemary Bushes 

  • Cypress Bushes 

  • Japanese Holly 

  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce 

contemporary garden topiary

A garden hedging specialist can trim your hedges into intricate shapes and help you achieve elegant topiary in your very own garden. 

7. Incorporate evergreen screening.  

Want some privacy in your contemporary garden? Bamboo is an ideal plant for just this purpose! They can be used as hedges or barriers for your garden because of their height. Bamboo varieties commonly found in gardens include: 

  • Alphonse Karr

  • Giant Buddha’s Belly

  • Chinese Dwarf Bamboo

  • Murray Island

  • Timor Black Bamboo

  • Golden Goddess  

using bamboo pathway

8. Make use of clean lines and shapes.  

You’ll want your contemporary garden to be clean, understated, and uncluttered. Garden borders, furniture, and pathways should fit this description, too. using clean lines and shapes for contemporary garden design idea

9. Add in a sculpture or two. 

Since every aspect of your contemporary garden should have a purpose, select your decorations and sculptures carefully! Your chosen sculpture should have a story and can even become a conversation starter for when guests come over.   

adding in modern garden sculptures

10. Set up a water feature. 

How do you make a boring garden interesting? Add a water feature! It could be a small pond, a fountain, or a decorative pool. Water features also help make your space more relaxing and inviting. 

water feature setup for garden

11. Put up outdoor lighting. 

Outdoor lighting highlights structures in your garden, such as your water features and sculptures. Lights will also help you navigate your way through the garden at night. You could pick between motion sensor lights, accent lights, pathway lights, spotlights, and wall sconces. outdoor lighting for garden

12. Install a fire pit. 

Suppose you’ll be spending more time in your contemporary garden during the evenings. Why not select a fire pit as the centre structure? It could be the perfect space for you to entertain guests and hold special family events. 

fire pit installed in garden

13. Build a gazebo. 

Speaking of having people to entertain, you could set up a gazebo at the heart of your contemporary garden! It could be large enough for a couch and table or just small enough for a person to rest from walking and get some shade. Structures similar to gazebos include pavilions, pergolas, and pagodas. gazebo design idea for contemporary gardens

14. Add a wooden deck. 

Looking to upgrade your contemporary garden? A wooden deck can serve as the focal point of your garden, an al fresco dining area, or a pathway to get from one point of the garden to another. 

wooden deck added for a contemporary look

15. Incorporate pebbles.

Depending on your planned landscape, pebbles could be used as a border between your garden’s flower bed and grass. You could also add pebbles to your garden’s pathway. 

pebbles for garden pathways

16. Make use of decorative mirrors.  

Mirrors are useful for making small contemporary gardens seem bigger, brighter, and airier. Just ensure that your garden mirror’s location is not somewhere birds are likely to fly towards, as mirrors can confuse them.decorative mirrors for gardens

17. Set up an outdoor cinema. 

Since your contemporary garden is already a relaxing part of your home, why not set up your own outdoor movie nights every once in a while? Invest in a portable projector, spread some blankets and cushions around, prepare some snacks, and be all set.  

outdoor cinema idea


We hope these contemporary garden ideas have inspired you to revamp your own outdoor space. The possibilities are endless! Setting up your contemporary garden can be less intimidating and arduous with the help of a garden designer. Simply prepare inspiration photos of your contemporary garden and let your gardening professional do the rest. 

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