Contemporary Landscape Design - Modern, Naturalistic, Minimialistic, Sustainable, Transitional

Landscape Styles: What Does it Mean to be “Contemporary”? – Defining Contemporary Landscape

Contemporary Landscape Design - Modern, Naturalistic, Minimialistic, Sustainable, Transitional

What does it mean to be “contemporary”?

Contemporary literally has to be one of the broadest categories in terms of style and design. By definition, contemporary means, belonging to or occurring in the present. Based on this definition, contemporary is not a static style. Instead, it is always changing and thus, I would argue that contemporary alone is not an actual style, but rather an adjective to describe a style.

When a client labels himself or herself as simply “contemporary,” this can be very confusing for a designer. To help decode and better understand what contemporary means for our clients, our office takes into consideration:

  1. Architecture: What year was the house (or building) built? What was/is the intent of the architect? What materials and shapes are present?
  2. Interior style / furnishings: What colors and materials does are used to decorate the interior of the house? We always try to keep in mind that the exterior and landscape of a house should act as an extension and reflection of the interior of the house.
  3. Inspirational photos: At Matthew Murrey design, we conduct and in-office inspirational photo analysis to help determine client’s likes and dislikes. We find it helpful to know both what the client is attracted to and what repels them to truly understand and exceed their expectations.

Below are some examples of a contemporary landscape. How would you describe your contemporary style? Which contemporary style appeals to you the most?


Contemporary Gardens


Modern gardens are characterized by being clean-lined, hard-edged, and minimalistic. Modern landscape usually tends to have concrete and/or metal incorporated into the design and holds true to the cliché that less is more.

Modern Contemporary Landscape
Morrison Dilworth + Walls


Sustainable / Naturalistic

Sustainable and naturalistic gardens are typically more forward thinking and unusual. They make use of sustainable materials and practices combined with water-wise plant selections.

Sustainable / Naturalistic Garden Lutsko Associates
Lutsko Associates via Fanrto



A transitional garden is a combines both contemporary and traditional elements. This type landscape is usually very fitting for most American homes. It makes the home appear fresh and updated without abandoning the more traditional elements of the existing architecture.

Transitional Contemporary Garden
Matthew Murrey Design


What comes to mind when you think about contemporary design? We would love to know what inspires you – you can show us by visiting and posting to our Facebook page!

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