Modern and minimal garden design

Five ways to get a sleek, contemporary garden

If you love sharp, clean lines, clutter-free spaces and a contemporary feel, then modern and minimal garden design is perfect for you.

It doesn’t matter if you have a tiny courtyard or a larger space - this style will work equally well. The key is to know that less really is more and stick to it. Discipline yourself to pare back and aim for repeated patterns and a limited selection of plants and colours to achieve the look.  

Perfect style for busy people

Just as being clutter-free indoors can make you feel more relaxed, it has the same psychological effect outdoors as well - the perfect antidote to a hectic lifestyle.
This type of design is, of course, going to be harder to achieve if you’ve got small children who need sandpits, playhouses and all the other paraphernalia that comes with a young family – but you could reserve an area of the garden to indulge your design passion.

Give your garden a contemporary feel

There’s a lot packed into this garden – both plants and materials - but the strong lines keep it uniform and minimal. The key is planning and tackling the project as a whole, hard landscaping first, then planting, rather than building the garden piecemeal. This one works because of the repeated patterns: timber panelling on both opposite walls, straight lines for the beds and paths, and multiple layers of neat, clipped box. There’s a limited green and white colour palette and the plant types are restricted too, focussing on foliage form. Key plants here are the acer tree (enclosed by box) white-flowered Luzula and the contrasting larger leaves in the foreground, which are probably peonies.

Have faith and make a bold statement

Ok – you’re probably unlikely to be installing this amazing structure yourself, but we can still steal style tips from this amazing garden. One big statement needs confidence (and probably a budget, too) but it will have more effect than three smaller ones. The structure is softened by gorgeous soft, lush planting, mainly perennials, plus the multi-stemmed silver birch. Clipped box balls in planters – notice how their pots repeat the grey colour scheme – add low level interest against the dark fencing. Even when the perennials die down in winter, this space will still look good, as the structure and balance is so well done.

Add curves to a square plot

Take one square garden, build a hard, gravel-style surface to the central circular area, add one tree (here it’s Prunus serrula) then plant the remaining borders with frothy grasses, dayliles and achillea. Result: lovely balance of structure and softness that would take almost no maintenance at all. The designer has added a large container and powder coated sheet metal screens, but you could get a similar look on a smaller budget using fence panels (there are plenty of original designs online rather than the standard types).

Small and perfectly formal

This neat town courtyard looks amazing because of its simple lines and shapes – which have essentially turned it into an outdoor room to relax in after a hard day’s work. The brick walls are cleverly built to different heights to form both the backs of the seating and the edges of the raised beds, into which ‘cushions’ of box and white agapanthus blooms are planted. It’s the contrast between with geometric lines and circles that give this design its impact.  The bubbling fountains are a nice feature but not essential – a simple table would be just as nice and more practical. Very low maintenance, this garden would change little in winter and still give a pleasing view.

Modern garden gets a touch of colour

Colour can be a powerful tool in garden design as shown in this image, achieved without the use of masses of flowers.  The red painted walls and single red container next to tones of green works so well because using these two colours – opposites in the colour wheel – creates vibrant contrast. Notice how the green and deep red foliage plants are positioned next to each other as well – it’s amazing how pairing the right colours together can give a professional effect on a limited budget. Experiment with plant combinations when you’re buying them at the garden centre to find the look you’d like.

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