An enchanting eco-friendly coastal garden

An enchanting eco-friendly coastal garden


A captivating eco-friendly coastal garden with a relaxed feel and an easy flow

Fitting hand in glove with its coastal location, this enchanting garden on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is a testament to creative design and canny plant selection.

“The owners’ brief was for a relaxing getaway from the bustle of city life. Somewhere they could use for entertaining or unwinding,” says designer Clive Abben of Abben Art. “The garden was to be created in sympathy with the coastal environment to give the feeling of being part of nature and it needed to be low maintenance, hence the informal design, the use of hardy native plants and the lack of lawns.”

As much of the garden was underutilised and the site had a steep slope, Clive personally built dry stone retaining walls to create usable levels which he then linked with beautifully crafted stone steps. An outdoor dining and entertaining area, complete with a pizza oven, and a swimming pool were built on the second level. A cypress timber deck with an outdoor shower and relaxation areas was created at house level.

Under Clive’s guiding hand, the pizza oven and outdoor seating area were built by local craftsmen and the structural steel panels made by a local artist. Clive also oversaw the construction of the billabong-style gas-heated pool and the striking timber pool fencing which reinforces the natural look of the area.

By retaining the established coastal tea trees and pruning appropriately, Mother Nature gifted the garden with a wonderful sense of structure. To match the existing vegetation, Abben Art planted mostly indigenous species. Says Clive: “We consulted with an expert on the area’s indigenous plants as the eco-system on the Mornington Peninsula is quite fragile. The goal was to encourage the regeneration of drought-tolerant indigenous under-storey plants.”

Another focus was sustainability. A water tank was installed to top up the pool; the pizza oven doors are from an old wood burning stove; recycled pier timbers were used to build the seating area and the dry stone walls provide habitat for local fauna.

Lighting provides the finishing touch. “The lights have been carefully and unobtrusively placed to highlight the twisted tea trees and create a wonderful mirror image in the pool. Attractive brass fittings wash light over the stone steps bringing to life hues of the stone not seen during the day,” says Clive.

The homeowners couldn’t be happier with both the end result and the design process, during which Clive used 3D cad modeling so they could have a realistic “walk” through their garden before it was constructed.

For more information

Landscape design and project management by Abben Art Mobile

Photography by Patrick Redmond

Originally from Outdoor Design & Living magazine Volume 29