By Ellen Finch
Are you on the lookout for some modern garden ideas? Whether you’re ready for a complete outdoor overhaul or just after a few quick tricks to make your space more welcoming, you’ve come to the right place.
From outdoor living rooms, kitchens and even cinemas, to ambient lighting and stylish colour schemes, we’ve collected the best modern garden ideas out there. It’s all the garden inspiration you need, all in one place!
Just take a look at our garden design ideas below – there’s sure to be something that’ll catch your eye.
1. Be bold with shapes
A garden is a perfect place to get creative. After all, it’s your space, so have fun making it exactly how you want it to be! And, one way to create a bold yet playful effect is to experiment with proportions and form.
This contemporary garden designed by London-based Harrington Porter ties a huge backdrop hedge together with clipped topiary balls, drawing the eye around the space. The round globes of purple alliums carry the spherical theme and add an intense shot of purple to the mix.
These shapes beautifully balance the more angular lines used in the seating area, and in the bespoke, square-shaped water feature.
2. Use a modern pond to divide zones
A pond is a fail-safe way to create a chilled-out vibe. The gentle splash of a visiting bird bathing on a shallow edge, the rippling reflections catching the sun – it provides a multi-sensory experience. And, a pond is often even more attractive when full of water lilies, gold fish, and other aquatic delights.
But why not double up its purpose and use water as a divider, to separate the ‘rooms’ in your garden? This tucked-away seating space is a lovely example – a secluded retreat from the rest of the plot – accessed by a bridge-like walkway.
3. Try a soothing colour palette
You can seldom go wrong with a palette of white and cool greys. These tones add a feeling of space and serenity to an outdoor living area and let the planting shine.
The contemporary materials in this garden include composite decking and porcelain pavers, and create a laid-back yet sophisticated space for entertaining alfresco. The fire pit and chrome lanterns make a lovely finishing touch.
Check out our best fire pits if you’re tempted to get one for your own space.
4. Split your garden into levels
If you’re undertaking a complete redesign of your garden, consider adding split levels. Not only does it solve the issues of a sloping plot, it also helps to create zones.
Think about including a cooking and dining space, a more informal seating area, and then a kid's play area with a lawn, for example.
There's more sloping garden ideas over in our dedicated feature.
5. Create an indoor-outdoor flow
Your garden is an extension of your home, so make the two work together by emphasising the link between outdoors and in.
If you’ve extended your house, sliding or bi-fold doors help open your house to the garden, but there are other tricks you can use, too.
Try using similar tiles on your patio area as you have in the room the other side of the doors. Then, invest in some quality furniture to create seating areas, and add fun accessories like cushions and throws for a homely feel.
Head over to our modern paving ideas for more inspiration.
6. Choose contemporary flooring
Your patio floor makes all the difference to your garden, so invest in a sleek design. These gorgeous tiles from Topps Tiles have a pared-back, minimalist feel for instant cool.
Patterned tiles work equally well – they lend a Moroccan feel to a garden and have the added benefit of creating an ‘outdoor room’ feel to a space.
7. Experiment with interesting styles
Why not play around with the layout of your tiles, to create a design that’s interesting to the eye?
The above garden makes use of natural stone plank paving and gravel chippings to create a pathway to the bottom of the garden, interspersed with grasses for added interest and texture.
8. Use a pergola for shaded zones
Structures like pergolas add welcome shade to a sunny south-facing garden, but they’re also useful for zoning outdoor spaces, or to support climbing plants.
Use one to define your seating or dining area – you can even build one yourself using an online guide if you have a little DIY know-how.
Take a look at our pergola ideas to get inspired.
9. Cook alfresco with an outdoor kitchen
Are you a keen cook? Do you love a barbecue come summer? Then an outdoor kitchen could be worth including in your garden design.
Whether you opt for a modular design or a more bespoke build, you can tailor the kitchen to your needs and budget with ease. There are some essentials, though: you’ll need something to cook with (a barbecue or pizza oven), a workspace for prep (Ikea do a great range of outdoor trolleys) and, if you can, some storage space for outdoor crockery and cooking tools. Any extras, from kitchen shelving to a sink with running water, are up to you.
There's more top tips on how to design an outdoor kitchen in our guide.
10. Eat in style with an outdoor dining area
Whether you’re including a cooking area in your design or not, an outdoor dining space is a lovely addition for sunny summer days. This setup from Lights 4 Fun has rustic charm, and we love the addition of string lanterns for mood lighting.
If you’re likely to invite guests over, having a set of outdoor tableware can elevate a meal in the garden to dinner party status.
Want more outdoor dining advice? Take a look at our favourite outdoor dining ideas.
11. Make a feature of your shed
A shed is a non-negotiable for anyone who loves gardening, whether it’s for keeping your collection of garden tools or storing your beloved deck chairs come winter.
Make a feature of yours by giving it an upgrade. A lick of paint can do wonders for a shed in relatively good condition, and a few additions, like a wall light or some new decking, can turn an everyday item into something special.
Head over to our she-shed ideas to get inspired for your own miniature garden retreat.
12. Opt for sleek and stylish furniture
Garden furniture is as important for a modern scheme as the planting and the paving, so choose wisely if you’re investing in a new dining or seating set. Timber is a timeless classic, but we love a sleek steel design for a contemporary look.
This dining set from Dobbies is an example of how even the most modern furniture can work well in a more traditional garden setting, so don’t be afraid to mix up your styles if you've spotted something you love.
13. Keep your cool with an all-white scheme
Channel the Mediterranean with a white palette in your garden. This design combines white tiles and painted fencing with plenty of lush green climbing plants for a bright and sunny finish, and the set of rope chairs sets the whole thing off with serious holiday vibes.
Just be sure to add in plenty of greenery to avoid the space looking too clinical.
14. Add texture with rustic touches
If you like a lived-in feel to your garden, you might prefer to inject rustic colours and textures to your space.
This design from Instagram interiors guru @theresa_gromski plays on a boho vibe, complete with decking and seating built from reclaimed scaffold boards and raised beds made with railway sleepers.
Rattan furniture, string lighting and black fence paint completes the look.
15. Make space with a garden room
A garden room can be a viable and cost-effective alternative to an extension or loft conversion, especially as a home office or hobby space (think an at-home yoga studio or craft room – bliss!).
With a wealth of designs available at every price point, it’s easier than ever to create a sanctuary at the bottom of your garden. This architect-designed build makes use of timber cladding and a sunken position for a cosy, cabin-in-the-wood vibe.
Check out our garden office ideas for more ways to create a work from home space in your garden.
16. Create a children’s area
If you have little ones, be sure to make space for their hobbies in your garden. You could create a little seating area, set up a play kitchen or buy them their own set of mini tools – if they can’t actually help, at least they’ll look adorable trying.
17. Grow your own with contemporary veg planters
As more of us aim to be more sustainable, we’re increasingly looking for ways to grow our own fruit and vegetables in the confines of our gardens. If you don’t have space for a full-blown vegetable plot, let this stylish raised vegetable bed inspire you instead.
While you can buy similar planters online, they’re also easy to make yourself using reclaimed scaffold boards or other recycled wood.
Want to save on space? Take a look at our guide to growing vegetables in pots.
18. Consider lighting carefully
The finishing touches make as much of an impact as anything else in a garden, so give as much thought and attention to things like lighting and accessories as you do layout and planting.
John Lewis & Partners has elevated this outdoor living room with a mix of lighting to set the mood, including string lights and table lamps. Think about lighting up key plants or trees for an instant feature, too, as well as any paths and key living areas.
Why not take a look at our garden lighting ideas for more inspiration.
19. Chill out with an outdoor cinema
It’s not an all-seasons solution, but an outdoor cinema can be a real luxury in the warmer months, while the evenings are still balmy (or at least bearable).
Portable indoor-outdoor projectors are available at all price points, so investing in one – along with a screen – is a great idea if you enjoy film nights with family or friends.
Add some picnic blankets and a cushion or two and you’ve got yourself a free evening out – popcorn at the ready!
You'll find the best outdoor projector for your budget in our guide.
How can I make my garden more modern?
If you’ve had a look at our tips and need more pointers on how to make your plot more modern, then this quick checklist might help.
- Think about how you’d like to use the space – and then what features would make this easier.
- Go for low-maintenance, durable materials.
- Add fuss-free details.
- Opt for products with multiple uses to maximise the use of space.
What is a contemporary garden?
Contemporary gardens are often a great choice for busy families, who want to enjoy their garden without hours of maintenance involved. Think sleek, pared-back designs, natural materials, minimal colour schemes, even minimal planting.
Work with straight lines, and if in doubt, take it out!
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