As this mesmerising city billabong proves, you can create a natural waterscape in a garden of any size
The rear garden of this urban home conceals a delightful secret that is as innovative as it is sustainable. As you step from the house onto the deck, instead of being greeted by an expanse of lawn, you are welcomed by a thriving, semi-arid landscape of rock, decomposed granite, native plants and, as a centrepiece, a “city billabong”.
“The subtle sounds of the wetland, the gentle ripples across the water’s surface, the schools of native fish and the bathing birds are gentle reminders of days spent near a river or creek. Time becomes unimportant and you soon forget that you are actually in a bustling inner Melbourne suburb,” says Mitch Davis of Waterscapes Australia, the company that designed and installed this impressive water garden.
Waterscapes Australia was brought in prior to the dwelling’s construction and worked closely with builder Joe Hastie of Green World Projects and landscape designer Nicole Taylor of Down Town Interiors/Exteriors to ensure a fully coordinated approach to the waterscape’s construction.
In the hotter months, the billabong is designed to be used as a swimming pool while during the cooler weather, it’s to function as a large-scale water feature that gladdens the eye. Thus, it wasn’t just a matter of getting the design right, the correct location and orientation were crucial. Another consideration was the limited space, so some clever thinking was required. Water storage tanks were incorporated into a retaining wall in the far bank and hidden beneath the billabong’s overhanging deck. Also cleverly concealed beneath the timber deck is the billabong’s skimmer box and pump housing.
The billabong equipment, which was supplied by Aquascape Supplies, includes an Aquascape Signature pond skimmer to catch floating debris and leaves before they sink to the bottom of the pond. Water jets throughout the main body of the pond increase circulation and direct fallen leaf debris to the skimmer for easy removal. There is also an Aquascape up-flow wetland filter, specifically sized for the volume of water to be maintained.
“The entire feature is designed to be an aquatic ecosystem,” explains Mitch. “Every surface of the pond is a habitat for naturally occurring beneficial bacteria and the wetland filter is a lush aquatic garden that can also be used to grow edible plant species. Any excessive nutrients are firstly transformed by a teeming colony of beneficial bacteria and then taken up by the waiting water plants above.
“This means that the billabong’s crystal-clear water is maintained without the use of nasty chemicals or additives. Maintenance costs are lowered and the experience is akin to taking a dip in a naturally occurring rainforest watercourse. No stinging eyes or skin. It is hard to see why in this day and age, fresh water pools are not yet the norm.”
With more than 20 years’ global experience in the design and construction of ponds and water gardens, Waterscapes Australia has the expertise to create the water feature of your dreams, whether you have a small urban backyard or a large property in the country.
“We have the technical knowledge as well as vast experience in design and installation, all of which can be adapted to any sized water feature” says Mitch. “From a backyard fish pond or stream to acreage ecosystem lakes and recreational ponds, we mimic nature in beauty and function.”
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Photography by Patrick Redmond
Originally in Outdoor Design & Living Issue 35