Modern garden ideas: 28 ways to make your outdoor space contemporary

Dream big with these stunning modern garden ideas. This is what the contemporary garden of dreams looks like, when money is no object...

Modern garden ideas: design Regent's Park My Landscapes
(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

A garden tops many people's lists of dream house features, and these modern garden ideas will inspire you to upgrade your outdoor space, sooner rather than later. 

After all, most of us love nothing better than spending a lazy summer afternoon at a garden party, or looking after plants. But with a contemporary, luxury garden at your finger tips... now, that's a whole new level of dream living. Think an outdoor kitchen, stunning outdoor lighting, a swimming pool, and maybe even a day bed that looks like it belongs at a resort in the Maldives, –  this is everything we would definitely incorporate into our gardens, if money were no object. 

We take you through the most covetable and copiable modern garden design ideas below and if you're looking for more garden ideas be sure to check out our feature.

1. Go for a sleek contemporary design for a small space

contemporary garden design Regent's Park My Landscapes

(Image credit: My Landscapes)

A luxurious contemporary design that makes a small or urban garden feel larger and lighter is all about clever use of materials, proportions, and lighting. Think light wood, stone or concrete with architectural planting to draw the eye and to contrast with the streamlined garden design. And ensure your design is space-efficient, with vertical garden elements incorporated to allow for as much available floor space as possible.

This stunning contemporary design makes the most of a small outdoor space in London with blonde decking and lit-up bench and water feature. The garden design is by My Landscapes

Find out more about creating a vertical garden or living wall in our guide.

2. Create a focal point with a fire pit

Tuscola Firebowl Steel Wood Burning Fire Pit

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Let's face it: most evenings out in the garden (and many days) will be chilly if you live in the UK. The solution? An outdoor fire pit or fireplace. The bigger yours is, the longer you'll want to stay out. However, if yours is a smaller space, even a small faux chimney breast and fireplace can create a cosy focal point in a garden. This gorgeous outdoor fire pit creates the perfect spot for chilling out in.

Small garden? Swap out a fireplace for one of the best chimeneas from our pick.

3. Use a large outdoor space for a swimming pool

single storey extension completed under permitted development by Architect Your Home

(Image credit: Architect Your Home)

Have a lot of outdoor space to work with? Consider adding a swimming pool. There will be a lot of practicalities to sort out, including drainage, whether your pool will be heated or not (if not, you probably won't get to use it very much), a covering system, and how and by whom the disinfecting and cleaning will be done. With all that in mind, what could be more luxurious than your own pool?

4. Create a chic light stone courtyard

Charlotte Rowe Chelsea courtyard

(Image credit: Light IQ/Charlotte Rowe)

Light stone or concrete are the perfect materials for a contemporary luxury garden design scheme. Easy to maintain, and perfect for linking indoor and outdoor spaces to make both feel bigger, you should really take the time to work on the small details with your designer or landscape architect. 

This courtyard in Chelsea uses two levels of pale limestone paving and is by Charlotte Rowe. 

Find out how to employ a garden designer

5. Zone an ultra-modern garden design

Our top tip for a successful modern garden design is to be mindful of what suits a garden of your size. Tiny courtyard space? Go for a unified, simple, yet striking design. Large space? Tease out its potential by creating multiple zones – just like you would indoors. Doing so adds interest but also helps you define what each area's purpose is. Think a seating area, a paved area, and a grass-covered area like this. Don't be afraid of getting creative with breaking up the space into different areas – if it's big enough, it can take it. 

6. Include decking to make the garden versatile

town garden in Stockwell by My Landscapes

(Image credit: My Landscapes)

Decking has been a hallmark of modern garden design for several decades now. It can really unlock the potential of your garden, allowing you to use it in new ways, with areas for dining or sunbathing. Installing decking in a sloping garden is also the cheapest way to add new, level zones. Surround each area of decking with plenty of plants for both privacy, interest and character. 

This decked town garden in Stockwell, London is by My Landscapes

Check out our amazing decking ideas for more inspiration; find out more about creating privacy in your garden; and discover how to design a sloping garden.

7. Create an outdoor lounge space with a daybed 

Tribu Pavilion daybed

(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

A modern and luxurious garden design is all about maximising its use and the level of comfort while you are using it. So, if you're planning to spend hours in the garden during the summer months, invest into high-quality seating that can also be used for lounging and napping. In fact, why not go all-out and get a daybed with a canopy? The Pavilion daybed is from Tribu. 

Want more ideas for those lazy summer afternoons? We have some brilliant patio ideas for summer lounging

8. Add interest with a garden water feature

Solus Decor Water Bowl Scupper

(Image credit: Solus Decor)

What type of water feature is best for a modern garden? We say pick contemporary shapes and luxurious materials; Zen-inspired water feature also work very well. Best of all, you needn't have tons of space to create this look.

The Water Bowl Scuppers are from Solus Decor.

Find out everything you need to know about garden water features in our guide.  

9. Make your garden feel wild with a natural swimming pool

natural swimming pool by Jo Thompson for the RHS flower show

(Image credit: Jo Thompson)

Not a fan of chlorinated swimming pools? Natural pools use dirt-filtering plants to create a pleasant and clean swimming experience. A landscape designer is a must for creating this feature in your garden and it's totally worth it.

This natural swimming pool was presented at the 2015 RHS Flower Show by Jo Thompson. 

10. Pick a minimalist day bed for fuss-free relaxation

Manutti San outdoor day bed

(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

Luxury garden daybeds come in all sorts of configurations and looks. If you like your outdoor space streamlined and fuss-free, go for an ultra-modern day bed design, such as super-sleek San outdoor bed by Manutti. It's great for massages, too. 

Get more advice on how to choose garden furniture

11. Invest in a gorgeous outdoor dining set

Point Arc Garden table

(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

If you love al fresco dining, then a really lovely dining set is a must. The devil is in the detail, from the quality of the materials to the finesse of the design; don't settle for anything that's not perfect. We think the Arc garden furniture by Point ticks all the boxes. Available at Go Modern.   

For more options, take a look at our pick of the best outdoor dining sets

12. Transform a rooftop terrace into a comfy lounge 

rooftop lounge seating

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your outdoor space is on a rooftop or balcony, you might not have much space for lots of plants, but you do have an opportunity to create a comfortable, contemporary and luxurious outdoor living space. Think comfy furniture (which thankfully won't get muddy), a coffee table, and plenty of soft furnishings. 

Find out how to design a rooftop garden. And use these design ideas for a balcony or terrace to make the most of your space.

13. Set up a luxurious outdoor kitchen

outdoor kitchen set up with wooden floor and steel top surfaces by garden house design

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

Cooking outdoors can be a joy on warm summer days – but you need proper equipment to make the most of it. Aim to have as many of the elements of an indoor kitchen as possible, including a quality preparation area and sink. 

Get more info about how to design an outdoor kitchen. 

14. Build an orangery

Vale Garden Houses orangery

(Image credit: Vale Garden Houses)

Whether you want to use your orangery as intended and cultivate a glorious citrus garden, or you simply want a space that feels like it's part of the garden, but is protected from the elements, an orangery is an excellent addition to a luxury garden design. This orangery is by Vale Garden Houses

Find out more about building an orangery in our guide. 

15. Make fencing a design feature 

painted fence

(Image credit: Sadolin)

Fencing has the obvious practical functions of creating boundaries and privacy, but there's no reason it shouldn't look great, too. We love the colour blocking on this fence which adds heaps of modern character.

Browse more garden fencing ideas.

16. Add classic elegance with a fountain

Athenian Wall Fountain Haddonstone

(Image credit: Haddonstone)

You can still keep your garden's modern vibes in tact when adding formal and traditional garden features. There's nothing quite as timelessly elegant as a stone water fountain. The Athenian Wall Fountain is by Haddonstone. 

17. Combine outdoor living with an outdoor kitchen

wooden, decked outdoor kitchen and dining area by ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you love garden parties – and cooking – then why not transform your garden into a space that's both equipped for outdoor cooking and outdoor entertaining? This beautiful outdoor space created by IKEA combines functionality with top-notch design, perfect for a garden party. 

We have more gorgeous garden party ideas in our gallery.

18. Invest in timeless garden accessories

Violet Grey Directoire centrepiece urn, £1400; Confit pots (set of 3), £275

(Image credit: Violet Grey )

Timeless doesn't mean dated, and garden pots that look like antique sculptures, and that you'll want to pass down the generations, are the ones you should keep in your outdoor space. The Directoire Centrepiece Urn by Violet Grey definitely falls into the best category here – and has a price tag to match. 

19. Get a garden room you could spend days in

converted shipping container garden room

(Image credit: Container Conversion Design & Build)

Garden rooms open a whole new range of possibilities for using your garden: they are super modern and multi-functional, often being used as home offices, entertainment or relaxation rooms. You could even have a mini-spa in yours, if you really wanted to...

For more advice, follow our expert guide to adding a garden room

20. Or a summerhouse to chill in on summer afternoons

summerhouse


Summerhouses are the simpler, more easy-going cousins of garden rooms and every modern home should have one in our eyes. Typically, they will be less insulated than garden rooms, and hence are best for a summer afternoon spent cooling off from the sun. 

21. Invest in a luxurious bespoke garden gate 

world-inspired garden with a japanese-style garden gate by Zeterre Landscape Architecture

(Image credit: Zeterre Landscape Architecture)

Think of your garden gate as the equivalent of a house's hallway: it's not usually the first consideration when designing the garden, but it is the first thing you and your visitors see when entering it from the outside. So, we advise to invest in a gate that's as beautifully executed as everything else in your garden. 

This bespoke Japanese-style garden gate is by Zeterre Landscape Architecture.

22. Create a relaxation area with sun loungers

Monte Carlo sunbed by Alexander Rose

(Image credit: Alexander Rose)

Maybe you have a pool, or just a lovely decking area that soaks up the sun – if you love catching the rays, good-quality sun loungers are a must. We love the linear shape of the Monte Carlo sunbeds by Alexander Rose.  

Find our pick of the best garden recliners, however luxurious your space.

23. Invest in a chic garden furniture set

Beaufort wood and fabric armchairs by McKinnon and Harris

(Image credit: McKinnon and Harris)

What should a really luxurious and modern garden furniture set have? We say: touchable, high-quality upholstery; a refined frame; a light, neutral colour that will blend into a contemporary garden design scheme. The Beaufort wood and fabric armchairs by McKinnon and Harris have all of these qualities; we adore them. 

For more choice, browse our buying guide to the best outdoor chairs for your garden.

24. Take rattan garden furniture to the next level

Indian Ocean Pimlico club garden furniture collection

(Image credit: Indian Ocean)

Rattan is all the rage, and it's the perfect modern yet relaxed and easy addition to a garden. So if you like the familiar quality of garden rattan, but want a design that will take your garden to the next level, you could do a lot worse than the chic Pimlico garden furniture collection by Indian Ocean. 

We have more of the best rattan garden furniture in our buyer's guide. 

25. Go all-out on garden lighting

the best outdoor lighting: philips hue

(Image credit: Philips)

Carefully positioned garden lighting will add drama and atmosphere to your garden, a delight both if you're staying out, and if you're looking out onto your garden from the inside. Spotlighting or adding lanterns is the most effective way to create subtle accents – a garden designer should be able to advise you on the best places for your lights. 

Want to do it yourself? Find out how to plan your garden lighting

26. Take your container garden to the wall

green wall ideas

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Container gardening offers plenty of opportunities to get creative and to add the finishing touches to a coherent garden design scheme. To create a modern look, think of creating a green wall with uniform containers and choose plants that contrast each other in size, shape and texture. This green wall looks elegant in structure and still contemporary thanks to the energetic choice of greenery.

Find out more about container gardening for small spaces

27. Add natural luxury with high-impact plants

Wisteria tree adds drama to garden pergola

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Choosing plants that add a touch of drama is a surefire way to create modern and luxurious surroundings. Of course, the choice of plants is always subjective: what looks 'luxurious' to you may not look it to someone else. As a general rule, however, we advise to choose plants that pack a real visual punch: think wisteria, or a magnolia tree. 

Get more advice on how to choose plants for your garden

28. Add drama with a statue 

Buddha garden statue

Jackie Finch of Finch Garden Design sited this Buddha, sourced from The Old Stables at Bayfield Hall, in the courtyard at Bliss Blakeney, a contemporary home in Norfolk. Set among a bed of purple Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, it looks out onto the swimming pool with a serene expression, evoking a peaceful atmosphere.

(Image credit: Jackie Finch)

Traditional or contemporary, an eye-catching statue or any other large-scale piece of sculpture takes a garden to a whole new level.

Want more gorgeous garden design ideas?