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Modern Landscaping 101

Modern landscape design is often defined by clean edges and an uncluttered look. This type of design works on more than just contemporary or modern homes, though. It can also create a very refreshing juxtaposition when used around a home with a more traditional architectural style. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about modern landscaping and give you ideas for how you can incorporate these modern principles in your own yard.

What Is Landscape Design?

Design is often described as a combination of form and function. In other words, it combines what something looks like and how you use it. Landscape design is a way of making an outdoor space look and function a certain way. Good landscape design will cater to many different needs of many different users. It will also take into account the dynamic nature of the outdoors and how it is always changing.

Elements of Landscape Design

Landscape design has five basic elements that make it successful. These are: color, form, line, scale, and texture. All of these elements should be considered when designing both the hardscape and the softscape of a property. The hardscape is any paved area and the softscape includes any plants or grass.

You might be wondering what abstract terms like form have to do with landscape design. But, think of your backyard as your canvas. Form comes into play when it comes to the shape of plants and the structure of their branching patterns. Trees can come in many shapes, especially if they have been pruned. In addition, structures can range from stiff upright branches to a drooping weeping willow. Considering this is extremely important in designing a landscape.

In modern landscaping, texture is a visual matter. To determine texture, we typically rely on the size of a plant’s leaves. Don’t be afraid of varying different leaf sizes within the same design. Line refers to the fact that a viewer’s eye movement can be governed by how plants are arranged and their borders. Eye movement is an unconscious thing that happens based on how plant groupings fit or flow together. 

What Is Modern Landscaping?

To create a modern landscape, your project largely depends on three different things: design, materials, and function. Function may be the most important part of modern landscaping as it often seeks to redefine how we use outdoor spaces. Typically, modern landscaping isn’t about the traditional activity of gardening. Rather, it’s about creating a place that one actually lives in and uses, not a place that needs to be maintained. 

Elements of Modern Landscaping

There are certain hallmark elements of modern landscaping design. These include clean, straight lines, a careful mix of textures, and a limited use of color. Typically, modern landscaping utilizes neutral tones. It also favors foliage over flowers, keeping the design looking more consistent over time.

Modern materials are often the equivalent of manufactured materials. Think concrete pavers, corrugated metal gates, and metal fences. Many times there is an absence of wood and stone, which can feel odd to some people. But this can be balanced out by adding small trees or shrubs, or a grouping of container plants.

However, modern landscaping isn’t just about aesthetics. Sustainability is also extremely important to a modern landscape design. Rainwater collection, solar power, and wind power are all things that can be incorporated into many different landscaping choices. Other options include plantings that allow for use of grey water, composting, or watering through run-off collection. 

Modern Backyard Ideas

If all this talk of modern landscaping sounds appealing to you, why not try it out in your own backyard? Here we’ll share some of our favorite modern backyard ideas you might want to incorporate.

Walkways and Pavers

The walkways and pavers used in modern landscaping are generally symmetrical and angled instead of curved or organic shapes. Pavers will usually be made of poured concrete or cut bluestone. Brick is not commonly used in modern designs because the color variations and organic look don’t fit with the overall aesthetic. 

Water Features

Many modern landscape designs incorporate a water feature. It could be things like a natural pool or a fountain. Water features should use the same or similar modern materials as are used in other areas of the yard. Overall, the water feature should contain simple, clean lines to match the aesthetic of the entire yard.


As opposed to traditional landscaping, modern designs are often less concerned with perennial gardening. It favors consistency and low maintenance rather than a palette that changes with the seasons. A large area of modern landscape design is often made up of mulch and gravel. Plants should be chosen with this in mind. You will want to choose trees that don’t get too big or will need much pruning. Don’t be afraid of adding a fruiting tree, which can create the added benefit of delicious fruit you can eat! However, keep in mind that some of these trees can make a mess on walkways or patios if the fruit is not harvested. 

For areas that are short on space, you can get creative with your planting by using container plants that can be moved around. You may also want to focus on plants that grow vertically instead of horizontally. As previously mentioned, modern designs typically don’t involve a lot of color. Instead of choosing plants with many different colors, choose plants with different textures to keep things interesting.

Modern Landscaping From Arbeen Landscaping

Maybe you recently purchased a modern home and aren’t sure what to do with the outdoor area. Or maybe you want to switch up your current space for something more modern. Whatever the reason, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Our landscaping experts can help you create the modern outdoor oasis of your dreams. From a small improvement to a complete overhaul, we would love to work with you to tackle your project.

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