In dealing with contemporary garden designs that are aesthetic, functional and recreational, we generally now refer for our starting points to Le Corbusier.  “Form follows function” is often quoted and comes from his use of new materials in the twentieth century to create houses that are “machines for living”.  This approach has given us in large part our current approach to Modern, or Contemporary, Garden Design.

Contemporary Garden Design is usually characterised by simple un-cluttered design lines which describe walls, floors, circulation areas and planting spaces.

A modern garden with minimal planting, decks and views outside the garden into the distance.

The planting in the contemporary garden is usually minimalist and can consist of plants chosen for their architectural shapes like ferns, grasses and bamboos.  When choosing plants be very discerning and limit yourself to one type, or at the most, three in order to provide you with some year round interest.This kind of design focuses on the use of hard materials, sometime favouring the versatile uses of concrete to create clean uncluttered planes.  

Light colours are used on these planar surfaces and they are often arranged to reflect the structure of their related buildings. The planes, consisting of vertical wall surfaces, can be arranged both to reflect light and also to cast shadows in ways that can be both aesthetically pleasing and practical in nature. They can bring light into darker areas in temperate climates as well as creating cool, shaded spaces in warmer areas.

Using LED and solar panel technology it is now relatively easy to light this kind of garden for night-time interest.  Light emitting diodes come in shapes and sizes that allow you to pick out details, or probably more useful in this kind of garden, to wash large areas with light.

Bear in mind that gardens which are now traditional and which have entered our minds as being good safe designs were once new and different.  The landscape movement of Capability Brown and the garden created by Monet at Giverny are cases in point. Can you create the next contemporary style? 

A Garden Design Challenge

Our garden designers and their clients are, generally speaking, a very conservative group of people.  The prefer to adhere to doing things in tried and trusted ways that often leave very little room for experimentation.  At this point in time our accepted understanding of modern Garden Design surely falls within this tried and trusted way of doing things.  Our approach to contemporary design, based on ideas that are eighty years old must now be seen as somewhat conservative in terms of the materials and the design knowledge available to us in the 21st century.  

Often when a designer is keen to develop a truly contemporary design it can be very difficult for him or her to find a client that will provide them with the freedom to proceed.  Likewise if the client is someone who desires a resolved design for the 21st century they are often at a loss to find a designer.  Because you have arrived here and are reading this page you are most likely in the fortunate position where you are both the potential designer of your new garden and your own client.  

The following is now your challenge:

Firstly carry out your analysis and assessment using the page provided for that purpose.

Secondly design a garden for yourself that truly uses the materials and design knowledge that are available to us right now.