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Modern Landscape Design Tips for a Manicured Yard

I recently moved, and finally I have a yard that I can landscape! Trust me, I’ve gotten started on some contemporary updates, but the work is leveling off now, and things still seem amiss. Despite the addition of gray gravel, stepping stones and modern planters, the yard is lacking that “modern look.” Are there design principles that I’m missing? Is there anything I can do to work with the plants that were already in place before I moved in?…

If you’ve had any of these questions while landscaping your yard, today’s post is for you. One thing I’ve realized about modern outdoor design: There’s something refreshing about the clean-lined look created by a manicured yard. It’s hard to resist a well-maintained space where everything has its place. Maybe this is one aspect of modern design I’ve overlooked! Today we delve into it and see how you can put a modern spin on your home’s exterior through tidy contemporary design.

Have Fun with Clearly Defined Areas

A key trait of modern landscaping is the use of clearly defined spaces. In fact, there’s something about the geometry of it all that’s as unique as it is pristine. We’re not talking about a stuffy space, though. Keeping things interesting is essential. Below we see a gorgeous contemporary yard designed by D•CRAIN. Note the use of gravel-y rectangles to break up the lawn and create a stepping stone effect:

Gravel and grass define a contemporary yard Modern Landscape Design Tips for a Manicured Yard

Gravel and grass define a contemporary yard

How many different areas can you create? This next yard has it all: a pool, a water feature, a shaded porch, a modern metal planter, and an abundance of flowerbeds featuring native grasses. Design perfection! [from Grounded]

Clearly defined areas in a modern landscape Modern Landscape Design Tips for a Manicured Yard

Clearly defined areas in a modern landscape

In another shot of the same space, we see how ground covers are incorporated to help define key areas, such as the pond that sits next to the pool. Gravel, tile, grass, water and lush plants combine in a perfectly planned landscape:

Gravel, stone and grass in a modern yard

Gravel, stone and grass in a modern yard

In addition to a sprawling green lawn, the yard below features a pond with a spout to keep the water flowing. Pay special attention to the trim used in this outdoor space, which ranges from concrete pathways to the grasses and bushes that line the fence. The result: a space that is segmented yet unified. [from Huettl Landscape Architecture]

Water feature in a modern yard

Water feature in a modern yard

Speaking of unified spaces, the contemporary yard below features one of our favorite outdoor features: a seating area, complete with a fireplace! Don’t forget the impact that can be created by a well-defined outdoor patio. [from Cipriano Landscape Design]

Outdoor seating in a modern yard

Outdoor seating in a modern yard

A diverse group of materials highlights this next yard. From the concrete stepping stones and patio to the wooden planks that rest under the seating area, a variety of textures are represented (especially when you consider the lush green lawn). And the visual contrast created by multiple colors on the ground is quite striking. [from Ross Knazs & Associates Landscape Architects via Houzz]

Neatly landscaped backyard

Neatly landscaped backyard

Even if your outdoor area features only one clearly defined space, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the space you have. We love this urban outdoor area designed by Rees Roberts + Partners LLC. Shrubs add privacy to a space that features a manicured lawn and modern seating:

Green space in an urban yard

Green space in an urban yard

Strategically Arrange Plants

It’s not just about choosing the right plants–it’s about arranging them in a stunning way. What does this look like? While there’s no one right answer, it’s hard not to be drawn to a yard where greenery and grasses are positioned in neat rows. Wild meets manicured! [from Grounded]

Plants arranged in rows

Plants arranged in rows

Below we see a similar look in an outdoor space designed by Shades of Green Landscape Architecture. Note how the plants are arranged by type, adding layers of color that range from deep red to smoky blue…

Grassy plants in rows

Grassy plants in rows

Don’t assume that everything has to be arranged in straight lines! In fact, some of the most interesting outdoor spaces feature clusters of plants that celebrate the power of strategic composition. The purples and pinks in the yard below are a striking contrast to the shades of green. The fact that everything is mixed together makes the colors stand out all the more! [from Huettl Landscape Architecture]

Beautifully arranged plants

Beautifully arranged plants

Here’s another plant cluster that caught our attention! There’s something whimsical about this grouping of rocks, succulents and quirky plants that can’t be denied. Use your flowerbed as a blank canvas for the creation of interesting vignettes, as shown below in this space designed by Grounded

Unique plant cluster

Unique plant cluster

This next yard designed by Cipriano Landscape Design reinforces the power of healthy plant life. Even if you don’t choose to plant greenery in neatly lined rows, you can still create a manicured effect with borders, as shown by the pebbled curve below:

Vibrant plants line a flowerbed

Vibrant plants line a flowerbed

Go wild…within the boundaries!

Our next tip involves the use of wild elements in the modern yard. Note how the spaces below veer off into “wild and free” territory just enough to pique our interest before reeling it back in. Like this space below, designed by Grounded. It’s subtle, but we love how orange blossoms reach toward the sky, yet they do so from their clearly defined flowerbed!

Orange flowering plants in a modern yard

Orange flowering plants in a modern yard

Does your cup runneth over? Well maybe it should…with plants! One great way to combine a wild look with  neat trim is through the use of a cascading ground cover that flows over the edge of your flowerbed. Dichondra is a great option, as shown below in an outdoor space designed by D•CRAIN:

Overflowing plants create a waterfall effect

Overflowing plants create a waterfall effect

Plant life can even flow over modern steps, as shown in another stylish space from D•CRAIN. Juxtapose this look with a tidy lawn, then throw in some native grasses to reinforce the wild vibe…

Plants cascading over modern steps

Plants cascading over modern steps

It’s a jungle out there! And that’s what makes this space by Rees Roberts + Partners LLC extra special! Vines climb the walls, and a slew of plant life in shades of green accents the concrete and wood of the space. When stark architectural elements are involved, it never hurts to designate a few nooks for abundant plant life. The contrast is impressive, don’t you think?!

Wild meets manicured in an urban outdoor space

Wild meets manicured in an urban outdoor space

We end with a space that combines the best of wild and manicured elements. Plants appear to grow freely around the perimeter of this yard, while neatly arranged patio tiles mirror the clean lines of the home’s architecture. from Huettl Landscape Architecture

Grassy plant perimeter

Grassy plant perimeter

When it comes to modern landscaping, there are many different approaches to take. Today we focused on a clean-lined, well-maintained look. Are you a fan of this contemporary style, or are there other modern techniques you implement in your outdoor space? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…


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