Whether thinking of a major makeover, or in need of ideas for just one part of your garden, it's good to start with a look at the design styles that have developed over the years.
The contemporary style goes well with a modern house where the garden really is an outdoor room, complete with a large patio and the fashionable garden sofa.
1. Clean lines
It is all about good structure, bold, eye-catching shapes and geometric patterns. The same plant is repeated several times for stronger visual impact. There are Laurel hedges and lines of Box, perfect mounds or balls made out of Box, Japanese Euonymus or Box-leaved Holly. Alongside them, grasses or large-leaved plants such as Phormium or Fatsia, provide contrast without spoiling the neat, controlled look.
2. Shades of green
The shapes and textures of the evergreen plants are more important than the colours of flowers, although Alliums and Agapanthus are often used for their striking and long-lasting flowerheads. But, basically, this is an ever-green garden.
3. Less is more
The list of plants for one garden is short, which leaves little room for mistakes. The plants must behave in certain ways or the design will 'come undone'. Plants are chosen for either their sculptural qualities or the ability to put up with regular close clipping. So, although the maintenance is fairly simple, it is not necessarily low.
4. For local Kentish inspiration
The contemporary style has borrowed a lot from traditional historic gardens, with their clipped Yew hedges, patterns in Box, and topiary. You can see all that in the beautifully maintained grounds of Restoration House in Rochester, open to visitors twice a week during the summer months.