Modern Garden Designs and Ideas

Enjoy a tour of modern gardens that will inspire you to make you backyard different.


Modern landscape design is an expansion and refinement of mid-century modern or Modernist garden design, hearkening back to the 1950s or earlier when residential architecture reflected optimism and rooflines exuberantly jutted toward space. Later, things became more organized into geometric sections with polymorphic shapes. Notable 20th-century landscape architects and designers like Garrett Eckbo, Lawrence Halprin, and Thomas Church paved the path for today’s modern or forward-thinking designers.


1. Vancouver Contemporary

The furniture is the deep-seating kind, with lime-green cushions, set back to take in the view of this casual, contemporary yard in Vancouver, British Columbia. Designed by Landscape 2000, of Vancouver, British Columbia, the space takes advantage of a wall for a bold vertical garden and features an architectural wood pergola. Lime and chartreuse plants are repeated throughout.




2. Pool and Spa Landscape Design

A landscape and residential designer in California’s Sacramento region, Chris Corbett’s designs use natural materials like stone and wood. This pool and yard project includes a focal point water feature with scones that flow into the pool and integrated spa.


3. Greenwich Green Revival Mod

What’s a Greek Revival home in Greenwich Village built around 1840 doing in an article on modern garden design? Well, there’s no hard-and-fast rule that you have to decorate like it’s 1839. For the tiny outdoor space, designer Axis Mundi took advantage of the vertical space to add plants and gain privacy. Those vibrant red-orange chairs are by Paola Lenti.


4. Urban Stone Landscaping

Ruhlstudio collaborated with landscape architect Gregory Lombardi Design for this modern home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The water feature adds a focal point while buffering street sounds.


5. Spanish Garden Landscaping

A walled garden in Molina de Segura, Spain, takes advantage of filtered sun to grow tropicals like bird of paradise. Designer Alberto Garcia chose hardwood furniture that resists the sun and emerald pillows as accents of color for the modern space.


6. Mod Mumbai

That modern vibe of a highrise condo in Mumbai extends to the balcony, where KNS Architects used backlit laser-cut Corian for wall interest. Those mid-mod-inspired chairs look like spun-fiberglass designs from the 1960s and early 1970s.




7. Serene Landscaping

Repeating the horizontal lines of this modern house, an outdoor patio set is right at home with hardscape elements. Designed by Huettl Landscape Architecture, those horizontal lines continue with the concrete fountain and low wall and planting bed that corral horsetail (Equisetum hyemale).


8. Stylish Bedford Yard

If it’s worth saving, you restore. Of course, if it’s a case like this semi-detached London home from the early 19th century, you go back to the drawing board. By 2011, this house had been changed beyond recognition, with two far-reaching courtyards that served as a garden. With planning consent, Nash Baker Architects demolished two existing properties on the site, kept the historic facade of the 19th century house, and designed a larger luxurious single-family home.

Two elements of the house are linked by a relaxing outdoor space designed by award winning garden designer Luciano Giubbilei. The calm city oasis features restrained planting, comfortable outdoor furniture, and a lovely reflective pool.


9. Desert Modern

The goals for this Las Vegas entertainer’s backyard: Modern, functional, clean, and perfection. Battling the desert heat, Land View Landscapes knows what works and what doesn’t. Fussy plants wither and die in the summer, while mainstays like succulents, and certain shrubs and trees survive. If a client wants a nice green sheet of grass, the design teams give them water-wise faux.


10. Vintage Modern Landscaping

Spinning a modern take on the vintage fibro beach shacks built along Australia’s Gold Coast, True North Architects combined weatherboard and hardwood timbers for an interconnected series of decks, terraces, and gardens on a sloping property in New South Wales. Continuing that modern feeling, True North used other unconventional materials, like steel and corrugated iron, which complement the silver wood.


11. Historic Home

A historic home in San Francisco retaines its architectural features for preservation, but what goes on in the backyard is the homeowners’ choice. Matazrozzi Pelsinger Builders constructed large concrete retaining walls and installed a folding door system in the den that opens to a rear stone patio. Terraced planters lead to a beautiful living wall teeming with bonsais, ivies, mosses, ferns, orchids, fuschias, junipers, succulents, ornamental grasses, and Daphnes. Joining the builders were Gast Architects, interior designer Martha Angus, and plant designer Thumbellina Gardens.


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