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Design Pros Suggest These Modern Backyard Ideas for Every Style and Budget

Create the chic backyard of your dreams

Over the next few months, you’ll likely be spending plenty of time outside soaking up the weather. If you have a backyard, what better place to do so? Whether you’re hosting backyard barbecues or simply enjoying your own outdoor space with a good book, a functional and stylish yard is well within reach without breaking the bank. We asked design experts for wallet-friendly modern backyard ideas to help elevate your personal oasis into a true extension of your home.

“The modern aesthetic is a popular choice for home design and can be extended to the exterior of the home,” says Joe Raboine, Vice President of Design at Oldcastle APG. “Strong lines pair with smooth surfaces to deliver a bold, modern look that complements a contemporary-style home. A streamlined, modern design for an outdoor space emphasizes natural light and neutral tones to embody a modern flair that is cozy, not cold.”

Modern backyard ideas for landscaping

Optimizing your lawn and any garden areas are great cost-effective ways to modernize and brighten your backyard.

Use native plants

One of your best bets for an attractive and low-maintenance backyard is plants that are native to your region. They’re environmentally friendly, and they’ll thrive naturally in your space.

“Begin with understanding your yard’s soil, sunlight, and water conditions,” advises Marek Bowers, sustainable garden designer and founder of Bolder Green, a resource for creating drought tolerant gardens. “Next, design a layout that includes a mix of trees, shrubs, and ground covers that are native to your region. To make your backyard more contemporary, focus on creating clean lines and defined planting zones, and consider adding features like rain gardens or natural borders.”

Start by planting larger trees and shrubs to establish the structure, and then fill in extra space with smaller plants and ground covers, Bowers says. To make sure your backyard still fits your style and functional needs, choose native plants that match your color preferences and the overall look you want to achieve.

Incorporate hardscapes

Hardscapes, which are landscaping materials such as concrete, asphalt, stone, glass, brick, metal and gravel, are another trendy way to put your own personal touch and aesthetic on your backyard with your favorite colors, materials, shapes and patterns.

For a sleek, contemporary look, opt for pavers with stones or rocks, and consider concrete pads to create different zones in larger yards, suggests Erika Soza-Mejia, Principal Interior Designer at Concept 2 Design. These zones can help maximize your space by designating smaller areas for a variety of purposes, such as a dedicated lounge seating area or a dining space.

“Mixing materials adds more depth and dimension to modern backyard designs. Combining materials like wood, metal, glass, pavers and gravel elevates the look and feel of any space,” says Raboine. “Textured pavers, like those that mimic the look of natural volcanic rock, provide an organic feel to more modern, monochromatic spaces. You can also play with color by incorporating different patterns in complementary or contrasting color palettes.”

Incorporating geometric shapes into patios, walkways and other backyard elements complements modern design styles, he adds. Geometric pavers are built in modular increments, so you can easily mix and match styles to create your own unique pattern. Hexagons, diamonds and parallelograms are some of the most popular shapes that work well with the clean lines that define modern style, Raboine notes.

Create a vertical garden

If your yard is on the smaller side, or you simply don’t want a garden to take up much space, a vertical garden might be ideal. Start by finding a sunny wall or fence space where you can plant your vertical garden, Bowers says, and then choose a system that works for you: wall-mounted planters, trellises or pocket gardens.

“Pick easy-to-grow plants like herbs, small vegetables, or flowers that can climb,” he says. “Use modern materials like metal or wood for a sleek look and arrange your plants in neat rows or patterns. To ensure your backyard fits your style and functional needs, choose plants with colors and textures that complement your aesthetic preferences and think about how the vertical garden will integrate with existing outdoor furniture or features.”

Modern backyard ideas for furniture

Outdoor dining set
Daniel Cortez

Spending time in your backyard is going to be much more appealing if you have comfortable places to relax and unwind. This is also an effective way to make your outdoor space feel as inviting as the inside of your home, and to distinguish those different zones for entertaining, dining and lounging. While you don’t want to overspend on furniture, you shouldn’t compromise on quality either.

“Opt for deeper seating to encourage lounging, and consider adding accent pillows for extra coziness,” says Mejia. “Select furnishings with clean lines, avoiding ornate metals. For an elevated design, stick to a neutral color palette, or introduce pops of color to infuse vibrancy!”

In addition to your style preferences, make sure your furniture fits your practical needs as well, suggests Alice Moszczynski, Interior Designer at Planner 5D. For smaller yards, she suggests space-saving furniture like foldable tables and chairs or built-in benches with storage.

Modern backyard ideas for lighting

“Advances in LEDs, solar panels, and batteries have combined to make it possible to add bright, colorful lights throughout outdoor spaces whether you’re looking to hang string lights, add spotlights to key features, or use solar accent lights to add color and decoration where it’s most needed,” says Rafi Friedman, President of Coastal Luxury Outdoors.


Keep reading for more yard inspiration!

6 Low Maintenance Plants That Will Thrive in Your Yard, According to Plant Pros

DIY Outdoor Garden Decor Made From Thrifted Finds Will Pretty Up Your Yard

Gardening Pros Share How to Easily Fill a Raised Garden Bed for Less

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