You might ask: “What does landscaping have to do with modern design?” The answer is, quite a bit. That’s because your landscaping essentially frames your house. If it’s overdone, your house will lack the open and uncluttered appearance associated with the modern look.

Over time the landscaping in your yard becomes overgrown and not the most attractive. Part of the reason is that developers often go with plants that will eventually grow too big. What they care most about is how a yard looks initially.

Cutting back and/or replacing your plants and shrubs to open up your yard is well worth the time and money involved.

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When we bought our house, it was jam-packed with trees and bushes. In fact, the front of the house was protected by a wall of bushes plus a host of plants in front of it. Not a modern appearance. It took a bit of doing, but the bushes are all gone, replaced by a variety of shrubs and flowering plants.

Pathway lighting

If you have those standard solar powered pathway lights, consider replacing them with something more modern.

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Remove the railing

If your deck is not too far off the ground (30 inches in most jurisdictions, but check your local Code), a quick way to give it a more modern look is to remove the deck railing.

Deck board replacement

And, just in case you decide to replace your deck boards, take the time to pick out your boards, even if you plan on having a contractor do the installation work. You will be happy you did so because fewer knots means the deck will look and wear better. The typical contractor will simply take whichever boards are on top of the pile.

Tip: Buy select/premium grade boards (standard grade is what you usually see). They’re a bit more expensive, but look a lot nicer and will wear better as well.

Select/premium boards may be harder to find, so call ahead to local lumberyards. 84 Lumber, which operates in most major markets, is a good place to start.


If you have a wood deck, staining it will contribute to the all-around clean look you are trying to achieve. It will also extend the life of your deck.

Ask the professionals which stain is best, and you will often hear the name PPG (formerly Sikkens). We’ve been using it for years on fences and decks. This stain costs more than most.  However, its long-lasting nature means you can come out ahead over time, including because you won’t need to be out there restaining as often.

Behr® is another stain with a good reputation.

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A wood fence will also look much better after it has been stained.