3 Tips for Modern Landscaping Design

Stone patio landscape

The modern landscape design style has become popular in Minnesota over the last ten years, following the influx of modern homes being built. The clean, simple aesthetic creates a unique contrast on the backdrop of Minnesota’s beauty. Filled with straight lines, monotone colors, and sharp angles, modern landscaping boldly contradicts the curves and rich colors of Minnesota’s natural elements – allowing your design to truly make a statement.

Landscaping Rule #1

We are firm believers in matching your landscaping design to the design style of your home. Because landscaping works to frame your home and often extends your living space to the outdoors, the style needs to be complementary. With that being said, modern landscape design pairs well with modern home design. It doesn’t work well with traditional craftsman style homes that are designed using warm colors, textures, and soft lines.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s look closer at modern landscaping elements, and how this style can be brought to life in Minnesota.

Modern Landscaping Tip #1: Embrace Hardscaping

Because nature is filled with color, curves, and unpredictability (opposing elements to modern design), modern landscaping utilizes hardscaping to achieve a clean, simple aesthetic. Smooth concrete paths, polished pavers, and square/rectangular planters and furniture – in monochrome colors such as gray, black, white, and lighter shades of brown – are foundational in modern designs.

Landscaping elements are then used to fill in and accent the modern elements. The key here is to keep the landscaping symmetrical. Rectangular patches of grass and linear plants, for example, used repetitively keeps things clean and simple. Here are some of our favorite plants to use in modern landscaping design (chosen because of their color or distinct shape):

  • Purple Liatris
  • Purple ConeFlower
  • Catmint
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Ginkgo Trees
  • Honey Locust Trees
  • Pagoda Dogwood Trees


Modern Landscaping Tip #2: Less is More

Minimalistic is another way to describe modern landscaping – and the best way to achieve this is to do less. The more stuff and variety you squeeze in, the less your design will look modern. So in addition to choosing the modern landscaping and hardscaping elements we described above, you also want to limit the amount you choose. Fewer pieces of furniture, limited varieties of trees, shrubs, or plants, and minimal variation in materials will keep your space clean and uncluttered.

Monochrome color palettes are naturally minimalistic, which is why it works so well in modern design. But, some color and even texture can be used to accent the monotony – just keep it minimal. For example, if you go with color, choose one and keep it soft and discrete. Or, if you’d like to incorporate some wood to add texture, use it sparingly and carry the same wood throughout (and don’t layer additional colors or textures on top of this).


Modern Landscaping Tip #3: Keep it Straight, Sharp, Smooth, Simple

All the S’s make it easy to remember as you’re dreaming up your modern landscaping. First, keep straight lines across the design – paths, stones, furniture, plants, decor, etc. There is no room for curves if modern is your goal.

If you follow that rule, then the sharp angles are easy to achieve. Most often you want to stick with 90-degree angles, using rectangular shapes throughout to create the most crisp, clean, linear aesthetic.

We haven’t talked much about texture yet, but it’s easy – the smoother the better. Sleek, smooth surfaces are clean and simple. Texture creates dimension and warmth; in a modern landscape design, it should be used sparingly because it contradicts the cool, crisp appeal.

Lastly, and sounding a bit like a broken record, simplicity is essential. But this is quite possibly the hardest part. Henry David Thoreau, a writer, and philosopher said, “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” The same philosophy applies to modern design; with all the options available, it’s easy to pack things in – but when you want to strip your design down and simplify, while still achieving your desired atmosphere – that’s where things get challenging.

And that’s where a landscape designer can help. The experience and knowledge of the modern design style, as well as landscaping materials available, equips us to craft a modern landscape design that matches the style of your home and your desired ambiance.