For so many of our clients at Cortada Landscape Design, designing the interior rooms of their homes is second nature. They’re perfectly at home choosing paint colors, hunting for the perfect furniture, and finding the best piece of artwork for that space above the mantle. But, when it comes to making their outdoor space look as organized and well-designed as the indoor space, they’re totally lost. In truth, designing landscaping really is its own skill set. It takes a strong understanding of plant life, a keen aesthetic eye, and a firm grasp on how to blend living and nonliving elements together seamlessly while balancing utility with beauty. If you’re looking for some ideas to start your landscape design, our experts have the inside scoop on some of the best ways to make your lawn look modern and fashionable.
- Create an outdoor room.
Your lawn should be an extension of your living space. However, if it’s just a giant patch of grass, it can be understandably difficult to use it comfortably. For homeowners who want to put their outdoor space to good use, one of the latest and most high-end trends is to construct a room on your deck or patio. With the right furniture, rugs, and accessories, you can create an area that you and your guests will naturally gravitate toward. While this can really make your landscaping look like an expensive spa retreat, the project can be tailored to your budget. You can keep it simple with a minimalist look, or, for a truly luxurious result, you can even add kitchen appliances and weatherproof televisions.
- Integrate a water feature into your design.
Water features are nothing new, but the word “integrate” is really the key. Instead of just putting a birdbath or a fountain in the middle of your yard and calling it done, your water feature should be deeply ingrained into and customized for your design. For instance, if your yard has a slope, install a two-level pond with a waterfall. Or, try an in-ground water feature with sleek, clean lines for a genuinely modern style. In general, in-ground water features with clean lines and modernly decorated borders can quickly bring a contemporary look to your landscape.
- Use accent lighting to its full potential.
There’s nothing wrong with a few classic sconces framing your doors, but landscape lighting has so much more to offer, too. Use some uplighting to show off a few of your most aesthetic and well-formed trees. Or, if you’re more of a fan of the metallic, futuristic look, you can opt for independent lighting features that stand out on their own. Like your water feature, your outdoor lighting should be consistent with the style of the space, and it should be cohesive. Just be careful not to over light your yard with blanket lighting; your accent lighting will lose its appeal.
- Incorporate a variety of textures.
A core concept of modern design is relying not only on colors and shapes but on a deliberate variety of textures, too. Placing some smooth marble next to a fluffy and unique shrub can be the perfect blend to keep your landscaping looking original and well-planned. However, this all needs to be done in a deliberate and organized way — it’s not a license to head to a garden center and see how many textures you can cram into one space.
- Craft a cutting-edge fire pit.
Gone are the days of the rusted old metal rings as fire pits. Modern landscape designs are using the fire pit as a core focal point of an outdoor space. Today, there are so many options for outdoor fireplaces and fire pits that look right at home in a contemporary landscape. They practically beg your family and your guests to huddle around them for a cozy evening. If you choose to construct a true outdoor living space (see tip No. 1), a fireplace or fire pit can be the perfect center point.
- Try a live wall.
Another booming trend in modern landscaping is live walls — walls built to house a beautiful grid of plants. Some are built to provide a growing platform for ivy, while others have a dozen or more spaces for individual plants. Your live wall can be both a visual element and a way to separate your outdoor living space from the rest of your lawn. It should also be customized to fit your overall desired look for your landscaping by varying the material it uses and the types of plants that are included.
- Get adventurous with shapes.
Using bold and unconventional shapes is one of the most notable elements of the modern aesthetic, and this holds true in landscape design as well. The same shapes seem to have been used in planters and other lawn accents for centuries, so it’s high time for a change. Try a short row of cubed, squared-off planters, or look for lighting pieces with unique shapes. Just make sure they’re not so “interesting” that they don’t blend well with the rest of your landscaping.
- Modernize your walkway.
Walking paths from the front yard to the backyard and throughout the landscaped area have long been a staple of making an outdoor space inviting and usable. The classic stepping stones, however, are reaching their expiration date. For a more modern touch, try some colorful tiles or blocky square stones. To really top it off, outline it with some contemporary walkway lighting and, potentially, some tiny, well-placed plants as well.
For new homeowners and seasoned homeowners who are ready to take their curb appeal and outdoor design to the next level, the dauntingly blank canvas of an empty lawn can look like an overwhelming job. The tips above can help to get the ideas flowing. For a truly well-structured, planned, and usable design, however, it’s typically best to hire a landscaping design professional like our experienced team at Cortada Landscape Design.