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Exotic garden with fire pit, willow screens and decking

Think contemporary gardens, think clean lines, geometric layout and an absence of distracting details. In other words, a balanced and striking space that restores a sense of order and provides a much-needed respite from the chaotic outside world. Furthermore, a garden with modern accents and layout can work well in plots of varying shapes and sizes. After all, a central tenet of these kind of exteriors is their intelligent and inventive use of space.

But how do you approach creating a contemporary garden? Perhaps you simply want to imbue a sense of calm through block planting and functional seating layout, or maybe you have your heart set of a more architectural approach, complete with such ultra-modern touches such as outdoor showers and freestanding walls. Just keep in mind that the best contemporary gardens have a holistic, coherent impact. Mix and match doesn't always cut it here.

Of course, just because you're going for a contemporary feel doesn't mean that you're limited to a palette of dark colours and hard edges. We particularly like the idea of incorporating street art into your space for a splash of colour and grit. Furthermore, the trend for extending indoor space outdoors through rhyming internal-external accents in soft furnishings and furniture is another way to establish an area that is both modern and relaxed.

Of course, contemporary gardens need not be tranquil at all - the practical, pared back aesthetic makes them ideal as practical family-friendly spaces. Think maintenance-free artificial grass and wooden climbing frames for an alternative to cluttered kids' play zones.

Just remember, while the overall effect is one of simplicity, the devil is in the details. The lines of your garden follows, the textures of the materials, even the sound created by your features should all be taken into consideration. Ultimately, the most successful contemporary gardens are also something a little, well, timeless.

Exotic and contemporary garden hideaway

The perfect chill-out zone, this garden features a large seating area around a fire pit, making it ideal for entertaining. Year-round planting and subtle lighting add to the lush, cosy feel. Willow screens suspended from railway sleepers are staggered throughout the space to create 'rooms' that draw you through to the main seating area.

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Photograph by Claire Mee