A Modern Garden For A Traditional Home?

by Ben Bowen

Modern Landscape Design for Traditional Homes

My wife and I love Mid-Century Modern furnishings (I know, who doesn't right now!) Our home, however, was built in 1904. It is pre-Atomic for sure. Should that have stopped us from getting the look we like? I hope not, because it didn't!

Maybe you are in a similar situation with your landscape. You like contemporary landscape design. You picture a garden influenced by modernism, maybe even minimalism. But your home is decidedly not modern.

Should you forge ahead? Yes. Your landscape does not have to be held hostage to your home's style. Here are 5 guidelines to keep in mind:

The neighbors were not too sure about this screen...

The neighbors were not too sure about this screen...

  1. Your personal style is just as important as your home's. Not all of us happen to have houses that perfectly match our preferences or styles. Fretting over the feel of the house can cause you to lose sight of your style. What is better: having a home you like and a garden that makes you yawn? Or a having a home you like and a garden that makes you smile?
  2. Plant choice is critical. Modern landscape designs are often (though not always) defined by the geometric layout of hardscape and softscape. The plants that go in those sharply defined beds can bridge the gap between the layout of the landscape and the home. Hydrangeas, boxwood, azaleas are all old fashioned choices that can be used in a modern setting.
  3. Expand your view of modern. Contemporary yards can take many forms. Sure, this is modern. But so is this. What kind of modern landscape would work best with your home?
  4. Do you care what the neighbors think? Some streets are pretty conservative, and maybe some of the neighbors won't "get" (much less love) your modern yard. Can you handle that? If you aren't sure you might want to renovate a small portion of the yard and see how it goes.
  5. Have more than one goal for the new design. Pairing a truly modern landscape with a genuinely traditional home is much easier (on you and others) if you have more than one motive. Make it water wise as well. Lowering your maintenance should also be a goal. Include native plants, some that are friendly to pollinators or wildlife, and you can feel good about the landscape on multiple levels.

Ready to rip out the old fashioned landscape that is keeping your home in the 90's? Keep in mind the points above, and add a modern landscape design to your modern family's traditional home!