Modern garden designs are very geometric, abstract, full of man made materials and often low on plant materials. They are contemporary and full of clean lines and obvious art pieces or large garden jars left empty for a naturalistic look and feel. Many garden and patio areas today are beautiful and traditional but in the blog post lets try to stick to the modern gardens.
Many modern gardens can be rigid, cold, and abstract, where potted plants are just a design element. You want to find a nice balance between hardscape materials and softscape plantings. It is a perfect marriage between two extremes that make a beautiful garden area versus an area that just happens. It shouldn't have any excess without necessarily being minimal. You should try to find plant materials that are a variety that are carefully chosen. Don't mush together a ton of different things, but still have some variety for interest.
Try to see your garden area as an art form. Use interesting materials like water features, garden benches, large pots shaped like jars or urns and always have a focal point. An area that draws your eye to where everything can be tied together and makes' sense. Whatever materials you use - whether they be steel, stone or plants have to make sense and incorporates the look and feel you want to your yard or patio area.
If you can plant for sustainability then even better. Try to create a landscape that works with the environment. For example if you can avoid a lawn and the water, fertilizer, cutting etc you will not only save time but money. If you need a lawn for animals or children then make them a minimal size, and if you don't need one then don't have one.
The one thing you need to add to your garden is your personality. Any good ideas specific to the gardener that aren't copies from magazines are really more exciting.