An impractical garden with a steep lawn made navigating the garden a trial


With multiple areas for relaxing or entertaining, this garden provides for the family’s every need

With three kids, a dog and a love of entertaining, the owners of this property in the Sydney suburb of Gladesville were in desperate need of more usable outdoor space. While the backyard was quite large, the lawn was steep and impractical; and although there was a pool, the decking was in a dreadful state and the fencing made navigating the garden a trial. A complete reinvention was required so the owners turned to Grindstone Landscapes to design and build their new garden.

“The look needed to be fresh and contemporary with the inclusion of timeless elements, hence the Hamptons-inspired touches. In terms of functionality, the owners had quite a wish list,” explains designer Claudia Crawley, Director of Grindstone Landscapes. “They wanted a pool house with a bathroom that could be used in a variety of ways, from a weekend chill-out zone to overnight guest accommodation. They also wanted an adjoining dining space with an outdoor kitchen and a cosy fire pit zone.”

Claudia split the garden into levels, providing places where people can gather together or enjoy a sense of being in their own space. “The lowest level is the fire pit area,” says Claudia. “The kids can sit around the fire and toast marshmallows while the adults enjoy a conversation and a glass of wine at the large outdoor table in the adjacent pergola-covered entertaining space.”

The pergola features a roof of twin wall polycarbonate sheeting which enables optimum light filtration while providing shade throughout the day. Nestled beneath the roof is a well-designed outdoor kitchen with a barbecue, fridge, pizza oven, sink and storage space. In the pool house there is a second wine fridge and lots more storage.

The pool had been resurfaced a couple of years before, but Grindstone Landscapes replaced the damaged, badly installed decking with new spotted gum decking. “We also had to replace the pool fence, which didn’t comply with current safety regulations, and reconfigure its layout so the family could access the garden without having to walk through the pool section,” explains Claudia.

Connecting the pool area with the entertaining space and pool house is a set of eight-metre-long stairs that create a feeling of grandeur while doubling as amphitheatre-style seating. Travertine was used for the stairs as well as the paving and pool coping.

“The clients wanted low-maintenance plants with seasonal appeal and I chose a mix of different textures and shades of green, silver, purple and soft pink,” says Claudia. “The mix includes Acanthus mollies, Salvia leucantha, Salvia ‘Megans Magic’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Hiawatha’, Kalanchoe ‘Silver Spoon’, Crassula ‘Blue Bird’, Carex albula ‘Frosted Curls’, and Arthropodium cirratum ‘Matapouri Bay’. Also Acmena ‘Sublime’ for hedging and Viola hederacea for ground cover between the bluestone stepping stones in the fire pit area.”

Claudia, a member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers, brought all her experience to bear in this garden. Despite the access issues — all materials had to be brought to the site in wheelbarrows through the park at the back of the property — the outcome is a garden that’s tailor-made for enjoying the good life, and the owners couldn’t be happier.


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Grindstone Landscapes