Modern Garden Design Trends
Let’s say you’ve got your interior design plan figured out to a “T”.
Every square inch of your home has been accounted for, and every piece of furniture and appliance has been considered for color,
style, size, and material. Is there anything else left to furnish?
As it turns out, the answer is “yes”. There’s a whole wide world out there that is just as ripe for style and design as your home, and depending on the size of your property, the potential for landscaping may be even greater outside than it is inside!
Luckily, the fundamentals of “exterior design” are largely the same as interior: color, space, texture, and, depending on what elements your choices may feature, movement. However, despite the fundamental similarities between interior and exterior designing principles, other qualities, such as the open air and an increased prevalence of natural elements, make landscaping and garden design a distinctly different discipline.
In this article, we’ll be talking about three particular elements of exterior design and landscaping.
First, we’ll take a look at gardening. When flowers are planted and cultivated with consideration and
a keen eye for color and form, they can completely transform a landscape.
Then, we’ll consider water features. Stone fountains and designer streams can give your yard a dynamic sense of sound and motion. Water lends a huge amount of legitimacy to a planned layout that is otherwise trying to blend in with nature, and it also is a great way to draw the eye, divide up the property, and guide visitors who are exploring.
Finally, we’ll discuss feng shui: the ancient philosophy of using placement of items in your environment to influence mood, harmony, and health. Not only is feng shui a traditional system of energy flow, but it’s also a great way to place items, accessories, and furniture in a balanced and pleasing way.
Like the second side of a beautiful coin, flowers and other low-growing fauna can sprinkle color across a scene that
may otherwise be dominated by the greens of grasses and leaves, and the grays and blacks of both naturally occurring
and artistically crafted stones. Luckily for the latter, blacks and grays tend to pair well with almost any other color,
which is why stone vases and planters tend to benefit from raw, rustic looks as often as they do with more elaborate,
Additionally, carpets of short flowers close to the ground and fields of taller flowers can provide direction and guide visitors and explorers to different parts of your property. Not to mention all of the wonderful scents that popular flower breeds are famous for!
Bright splashes of color go well with stone statues and figures, and they provide a balance between the natural and the artistic…
as well as demonstrate how often the line between the two can blur.
In particular, sculptures made of marble and other natural stone retain the raw qualities that we often come to admire in natural phenomenon like vegetation and rock formation. Seeing these earthy elements wrought into emotionally expressive forms alongside the pure nature of a garden is one of the most satisfying combinations that can be made by landscapers and garden designers… to say nothing of the immaculate quality of the statues themselves.
Take for instance these stunning twin lion statues… and if you take another look,
you’ll notice that it’s actually a trio! Representing the famous kings of the jungle,
lion statues will always look amazing outdoors, surrounded by gardens or forests,
but thanks to spellbinding work by the master sculptors that created these pieces,
the lions would look great anywhere.
The natural Hunan white marble is smooth with a creamy beige color, polished to perfection, but the natural grit and grain of the stone means that any exposure to the elements will only give the statue a more rugged and naturalistic appearance, befitting its position outdoors among a windswept garden.
For a taller, leaner example, imagine a more human statue such as the legendary Venus de Milo standing amongst the trees,
looming from between their trunks in the dim light of dusk, or standing among the tall flower stalks of a colorful field.
Bright white and visually iconic, this famous depiction of the goddess Aphrodite would look like the mysterious ruins of some ancient temple when left among the fluttering flowers and casually murmuring streams of your garden.
Her alluring aura and the ancient mystique of her famous shattered arms seem ideal for an outdoor setting, where the durable marble stone would feel very much at home back among the wind and leaves.
The only thing that could be more important than stone sculptures blending in well with the surrounding foliage would be those same stone sculptures containing your most vibrant plants. Plain stone vases are plenty pretty, but in the midst of a meticulously laid out garden landscape, they could look rather like splotches of gray on an otherwise complex design.
Consider instead adding some dynamic layers of design onto the plant holders: etchings of flowers and vines,
Corinthian-style swirls near the open mouth, and swooping vase necks which give the sculpture an appearance which is both
varying as well as balanced.
These immaculate works of stone art look beautiful up close where all of their details can be admired, but even from a distance, the texture of the surface relief carvings stands tall among the natural intricacy of your garden fauna.
Stone has been proven time and again to be a beautiful source of style and aesthetic for outdoor gardens, but nothing can truly compete with water. The real beauty of water garden features is that even minimalism looks lively and dynamic when water is involved: the natural flowing motion, the glittering way that light dances on its surface, and the calming burble of a running stream all require very little input to be beautiful or compelling.
and a variety of fountains can all make an outdoor space feel both more natural and organic, as well as, simultaneously,
aesthetically pleasing and well put-together from an exterior designer’s perspective.
Artisan ponds can provide a focal point in the center of a garden, and can also be a perfect spot around which to arrange your flowers and fauna. Finally, there is little left to say about garden waterfalls that hasn’t already been said plenty of times before… other than the fact that they essentially combine streams and ponds together!
But how to make your water features fall and flow just so? Water’s greatest aesthetic asset can also make the biggest challenge:
it has a mind of its own. While this results in the beautiful and musical nature that water is beloved for, it can also mean
that harnessing said water without making a mess can be difficult.
The elegant answer is fountains: gorgeous, awe-inspiring stone pathways and mechanisms that channel water down its grooves, steps, and surfaces, using modern technology to keep the flow going indefinitely, as long as you’d like it to.
The selection of fountains available on the market is staggering in its vastness, but how many of those fountains are made of genuine stone and hand carved by a master sculptor? The difference in quality is clear. Here are a couple of examples of natural stone water fountains done right.
With this awe-inspiring stone water fountain, raw, unrefined stone ripped straight from the earth is
then cut clean through with refined laser-precision, creating a piece with unmatched duality boasting the best of both worlds.
The craggy exterior and sides could be wholly unplanned, like a rock that was found in the woods where your property was constructed. But the flowing canal has been polished like glass for a running water stream that is completely clean and uninterrupted. Indeed, the burbling surface of the gentle water stream may have a very similar texture to the rugged rock surface on either side of it.
And the inky black color of the stone will gleam in the sunlight and match the shimmering reflections of the water stream as it runs on across.
Perfect circular geometry meets the rugged surface of a natural black stone boulder with this incredible looking bird bath design.
It is almost like some mystical warrior has sliced a raw, rounded stone clean open with a cold blade, revealing the crisp,
smooth interior like a split melon.
The layered circles have been carved with unimaginable care and precision, and the beautiful black stone gleams with natural light and wavers gently with the refraction of the running water in its center. Its lovely symmetry and gentle curves make it an ideal companion to flowering buds or swirling ponds, and its all-natural materials make it automatically at home in the outdoor environment of your garden.
Now suppose you have all of these elements ready to go.
You have curated the perfect selection of flowers, stone statues,
and water features, and now you have one major decision left, possibly the biggest one yet:
where does it all go?
One major school of thought that people have been using to put their living spaces together for thousands of years is the ancient philosophy of feng shui, which claims to direct harmonious energies of health and fortune via the orientation of the environment… in this case, the placement of key elements on one’s property.
According to feng shui, cosmic life energies are channeled according to the orientation of certain structures,
especially ones with spiritual significance, and these energies flow like air or water along physical shapes
laid out in the immediate environment.
For example, with items arranged in a triangular format, with culminating points and hard angles, energies of passion and enthusiasm will flow. Likewise, rectangular rows and columns of items will engender creativity and inspiration.
Depending on your personal needs, as well as your aesthetic preferences, consider feng shui as a guiding ideology when designing your outdoor garden. Even if you don’t subscribe to such spirituality, it’s still a great visual design theory!
There’s clearly a lot that goes into putting together a beautiful outdoor space,
and there are many different things to keep track of. And while the theories and techniques
for exterior design are specific for those outdoor spaces, the underlying basic concepts
remain the same regardless of which side of the door you are on.
A sense of balance, a keen eye for art and furniture, and a willingness to take risks and explore are all vital to designing a thriving and beautiful garden space, but the most important concept of all to keep in mind is that this is your garden, and the most trustworthy source of inspiration to keep on hand is yourself, your own instincts, and your own personal preferences.