10 Landscape Design Ideas For A Modern Yard


What does it actually mean to landscape in a modern style anyway? Let’s take a look. Modern (or contemporary) landscape design incorporates bold, clean, dimensional lines. Emphasis is placed on structural elements- with concrete often being the hardscape material of choice. Plants with distinct forms are featured in the space but play only a supporting role- as the space itself reigns supreme.

Less is truly more with a modern landscape. But luckily, we’ve included ‘more’ (modern landscape design info, that is) for you below! Here are 10 Landscape Design Ideas For A Modern Yard to help you communicate your own landscape vision to whomever you hire to do the work.

Above: A running bond pattern, a “contemporary” spin on a traditional backyard patio.

1. Love Modern Landscape: It’s In The Lines

Bold lines are a primary and essential element to landscape design projects following the modern aesthetic or style. Think simple (and even low-maintenance) when it comes to each aspect of contemporary landscapes. 

2. Blend The Inside With The Outside

For a modern feel, make the interface (where the inside stops and the outside starts) more gradual. Consider incorporating elements of each (inside things on the outside and vice versa) to make the transition smooth from area to area.

3. Modern Patio? Choose Concrete

Whereas in other style traditions, you might be looking to do a flagstone patio, or even something with brick- but landscape design applied in the modern aesthetic demands that concrete rules as the hardscaping material of choice. 

The concrete’s color should remain in neutral and pale shades to further convey the modern envelopment that’s taking place as the yard transforms. Hard-lined geometric concrete planters can be used to great success. 

Above: Concrete is the material of choice for outdoor spaces designed in a contemporary or modern style.

4. Will Your Home Look Good With A Modern Vibe?

Some homes need a modern hardscape and surrounding landscape. These houses already feature geometric shapes and linear arrangements. However, a talented landscape designer might be able to pull off a modern landscape and hardscape that works with a less-than-modern-style home. Consider how well your existing home, as-is, would integrate with a modern outdoor space. 

One workaround option that a not-so-true-to-form modern structure can benefit from is a fusion of styles. Similar to cuisines, styles can be mashed together successfully if the right designer is on the task. Mixing traditional and modern, for example, is a thing.

5. Modern Landscape Design Calls For Open Space

For your yard to embody a modern aesthetic, you should be thinking about the space that will remain clear and uncluttered. It can be somewhat counter-intuitive, but empty space makes a statement in of itself- promoting feelings of openness and clarity. In this case, the cliche ‘less is more’ holds some real credence. 

6. Think Of Plants As Accents To A Modern Outdoor Space 

Plants need to be deliberately and thoughtfully arranged in any modern landscape design project. Placement of plants in a modern landscape should be uncramped and in geometrically shaped spaces. Use them to highlight the home’s architecture and the surrounding hardscape. Remember, with modern design it’s more about the ‘empty’ space than what you put in it. 

A frequent mistake we see when people go to create a modern landscape is planting plants that disrupt the symmetry because they are too small. Clean, simple and easy-to-maintain does not necessarily mean small. In a modern landscape design, proportion matters as much as simplicity.  

7. Choose Plants That Have A Distinct Form

For a contemporary feel, choose simple and uniform plants like Japanese Boxwoods. Foxtail Ferns look gorgeous in modern styled landscapes and they’re a particularly low-maintenance plant, thanks to a robust root system. Mass plantings of any plant will give you a modern feel. 

Above: Foxtail ferns are an excellent choice for an outdoor space destined to be modern.

8. Limit Modern Landscapes To A Few Plant Varieties 

A modern landscape with plants all over the place isn’t a modern landscape. Modern landscape design is minimalist in nature- drawing on elements of Asian design and culture. Keep the number of plant species to a minimum: 2 to 3. This way, your yard can support a simple and pleasing configuration of properly spaced plants in the landscape. 

When too many species of plants are used, you will start to lose the modern aesthetic. Staying with just a few plant species, the space will be conducive to promoting feelings of calmness, ease, order. Remember that as humans, our state of being- how we feel…  is affected, to some degree, by the environment we are in.

Each plant, in and of itself, makes a bold yet passive landscape accompaniment that bows its head to space in an unrealistically perfect proportion- the real hero in contemporary design.

9. Use Geometrically Placed, Neutral Tone Paver Hardscape For A Modern Look

10. Compliment The Home’s Architecture

Keep garden lines clean and placed so that they compliment and frame the architectural aspects of the home. The repetition of geometric patterns throughout helps to unify the home with the landscape and the landscape with everything else that’s on it. 

When someone experiences your property for the first time, they should feel that although different aspects to your space exist- they are one. To maintain this sense of harmony, make sure that any features in your modern landscape have similar geometric qualities to one another- in addition to minimalistic design.


About JOn Kontz

Jon Kontz is CEO of PLANT Design Group, a landscape design company located in Newtown, PA. He has over 25 years of experience designing and building landscapes. He can be reached directly at jon@plantdesigngroup.comOutside of business hours, you can find Jon fly fishing, rock climbing and farming with his wife and children. PLANT Design Group is a landscape design and build company based in Newtown, PA. We specialize in exterior property design and outdoor living spaces including landscape, hardscape and exterior construction. Serving clients in Bucks County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia, PA. Visit us at loveyourbackyard.com or to speak with us about your project today, call 215-321-5678. Plant Design Group At Hortulus Farm 60 Thompson Mill Rd, Newtown PA 1894