This garden oasis was the ultimate lockdown antidote


Completed just as Sydney plunged into a series of unprecedented COVID-19 lockdowns, this peaceful Hamptons-style garden oasis was a much-needed escape for a young family stuck at home

With restrictions in full swing, this garden oasis kept the owners sane during the uncertain and ever-changing 2020/21 lockdowns, providing much-needed respite and a change of scenery for a family who suddenly found themselves working and studying from home full-time.

“The children basically spent the pandemic in the pool,” says Andrew Sidie, owner and director of Stone Lotus Landscapes. “Outdoor spaces with a slightly exotic feel may have been the antidote to lockdowns.”

Luscious ferns, crisp white accents and a deep turquoise pool make this Kingsford garden feel more like a tropical resort than a backyard in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. “Our clients wanted a complete outdoor redesign,” says Andrew. “They wanted something aesthetically pleasing with a slight Hamptons feel to complement the interior of their home.”

Perennially popular, the Hamptons aesthetic fits in Sydney, where the climate and lifestyle are well suited to open-plan, breezy living heavily influenced by proximity to the ocean. Applying the white-washed, laid-back indoor aesthetic to outdoor areas is a harmonious and natural progression.

Garden oasis

“We created a coastal/Hamptons look and feel through a simple colour and material palette,” says Andrew. His team utilised “lots of white and natural materials such as timber, which will be allowed to grey, stone and lots of lush, broad-leaf tropical plant varieties, such as Bangalow Palms and Elephant Ears, which pop against the crisp colour palette.”

In keeping with the theme, the design brief included a non-negotiable pool for the kids, which was challenging given the inner-city location. “The area is a relatively small space,” says Andrew. “The challenge was to get a decent-sized pool in and still have enough space to relax poolside and for gardens. To keep the area soft and to maximise greenery, we steered away from solid paved pool surrounds, instead selecting large steppers embedded in Zoysia Sir Grange and garden beds along the length of the pool. Incorporating planting poolside instead of hardscaping around all four sides stops it feeling too stark and harsh.”

With expansive lawns in the front yard, the idea was to steer clear of turfing in the backyard to allow for a lush space packed with greenery. Pursuing a private oasis vibe, Andrew opted for broadleaf plant varieties that really “pack a greenery punch and helped amp up the lush factor,” he says.

“I love the architectural quality palms bring to a garden, and when placed poolside in particular, they also have a strong emotive quality, conjuring imagery of deserted islands and tropical holidays,” says Andrew. “It’s hard not to want to relax beneath the shade of a palm tree.”

Specialising in creating modern coastal, tropical and ever-popular Hamptons-style gardens, Andrew is an experienced landscaper and horticulturalist well versed in the fine art of creating an outdoor space that acts as an extension of the home.

“I really enjoy the whole aesthetic of this project,” he says. “But looking out across the pool area from the interiors has to be my favourite perspective.”

According to Andrew, creating harmony between indoor and outdoor areas is a process that “firstly involves assessing the site and project specifically and listening to our client’s brief. Our design philosophy is to create well-thought-out and considered outdoor spaces that are expertly executed and incorporate quality materials and finishes which, of course, meet our client’s brief.”

Skilfully creating a space that meets the expectations of a family with different, and often conflicting, needs and wants is a tough assignment. Achieving a harmonious mix of tranquillity and effortless glamour for Mum and Dad while also creating a fun and usable space for the kids, the design of this project exhibits a remarkable understanding of spatial concerns and attention to detail.

Stone Lotus Landscapes has created a space that punches well above its weight despite its relatively small dimensions . Delivering on both a practical and aesthetic level, the design is a tangible demonstration of the merits of a well-considered, balanced approach that is sensitive to the needs of all its users. The result is a beautiful, functional garden that elevates the everyday, making even the mundane seem special and providing respite during challenging times.