Australian garden

A modern Australian garden


A unique but rewarding project for both client and contractor, this modern Australian garden is an entertainer’s paradise, brimming with lush greenery, usable spaces and a strong connection to its surrounds

A landscape designer’s dream, the barely-there brief for this South Coogee Australian garden gave the team at Stone Lotus Landscapes scope to create a fresh and modern outdoor space that sits perfectly in its coastal location on Sydney’s cliffy coastline.

“Our clients’ brief was relatively simple,” says Andr Sidie, owner and director of Stone Lotus Landscapes. “They knew they wanted to include a pool,” he says, but they were fairly relaxed about everything else.

The general idea was to create a modern and tranquil outdoor space for the whole family to enjoy and ensure the area was well equipped to extend the home’s entertaining capabilities. “It also needed to suit the broader coastal context of the property’s location,” adds Andrew. “The rest they left open to us.”

A unique project for more than one reason, works were completed in conjunction with the neighbours who embarked on a similar project at the same time. “We completed this project along with the neighbour’s project simultaneously,” says Andrew. “We had two lovely clients who happened to be neighbours and were both ready to start their outdoor renovation at the same time. Both blocks were sloping and had narrow side access, which, under normal circumstances, would have dictated excavation to be carried out by hand. Not only would this be a costly exercise, but it would also limit the scope of works considerably.

“We were able to overcome the challenging access and save both clients time and money by removing the side boundary fence, which allowed access for machinery to assist with the excavation efforts,” continues Andrew. “It’s nice when the landscaping stars to align.”

Still, the sloping site continued to challenge Andrew and his team. “With budget considerations in mind, we chose to work with, not fight, the existing slope,” he says. Incorporating the level changes across the site into the overall design, he used the variations to “create different zones within the design, such as cooking, dining and poolside lounging areas”.

As is often true, constraints lead to creative solutions. In this case, Andrew’s favourite part of the project turned out to be one of those troublesome levels. “My favourite part of the space is the upper pool level,” he says. “The pool, combined with lush planting, the vast deck area and the elevated sunbed, is just so inviting. It’s a bit of a vibe in its own right.”

Material and colour choices were kept relatively simple and sleek, making it possible to maximise space and accentuate the resort-like feeling. “We updated the area with modern, understated materials, including spotted gum decking and cladding and large-format porcelain tiles,” says Andrew.

Not without subtle contrast, “the highly distressed finish of the Barrimah stone cladding used in the pool retaining wall is a nice juxtaposition to the otherwise minimalist material palette,” says Andrew. “It adds texture and character.”

Feeding into the client’s desire to maximise their entertaining space, the project is packed with inclusions such as a barbecue and concrete bench area, pizza oven, dining space, pool, outdoor shower, poolside deck and elevated sunbed embedded into the garden.

With so many inclusions and the split levels on site, the design had the potential to feel cramped and overfilled. Instead, “the uncluttered design and glass balustrade help to accentuate a feeling of space and vastness”, says Andrew. “The hardscape elements are softened by a fusion of tropical and Mediterranean planting, resulting in a barefoot luxury resort feel.”

With its clean lines, simple material selection and understated luxury, this space is inspired by the people who inhabit it and a connection to the coastal environment that envelops it.
Cascading down the sloping site, it’s more than just a backyard. It’s a place where the family can relax and entertain, acting as a conduit between the people who use it and the natural world around it.