Seeking sanctuary: a relaxing outdoor haven

Seeking sanctuary: a relaxing outdoor haven


This relaxing outdoor sanctuary offers the perfect respite from the hurly-burly of everyday life

With a swimming pool and a fully equipped outdoor entertaining area, the rear garden of this contemporary Melbourne home beckons the family to spend time outdoors. And, thanks to the effortless shift between indoor and outdoor areas, the family’s overall living space has been significantly extended.

The simplicity of the clean design belies the challenges that had to be overcome. As the home is situated on a sloping block, the owners’ brief for a streamlined design meant the landscape required a specialised design to build the garden up, both out the front of the house and out the back. A one-metre high retaining wall was installed under the new boundary fence to ensure the garden bed and plants became level with the deck. This was quite a task as there was limited access to the rear of the property.

The owners also wanted the entrance to make a statement. “Water perfectly fitted this bill, allowing for the designer to create an interesting access point via stepping stones through a pond down the right-hand side of the residence,” says Simon McCurdy of Simon McCurdy Landscapes who was called upon to construct the landscape.

In today’s time-poor society, minimal vegetation is a boon. Here, there’s little greenery for the homeowner to care for, but what has been planted will be extremely practical once established and provides maximum impact. For example, the hedge alongside the pool will eventually grow thick and dense, providing a screen for the poolside area. Timber decking was used as the primary flooring material. “It gives that ‘floating deck’ look and the spotted gum on the fence brings more of the natural timber element into the landscape,” explains Simon.

With an eye to sustainability, 40,000 litres of rainwater is stored in cleverly concealed concrete tanks under the decking and a fully automatic irrigation system keeps the hardy plants and lawn watered as required. A mix of composted mulch and pebbles was used in garden beds and water crystals were added to the soil at the time of planting.

“Much of the garden beds were mulched with ungraded river pebbles, which will not require replenishing,” says Simon. “This was done especially around the pool area so as not to have mulch blowing into the pool.”

Plants include Pyrus calleryana ‘Cleveland Select’, Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’, Anthropodium cirrhatum, Cycas revolute, Agave attenuate and Convolvulus sabatius — a mix of hardy, drought-tolerant species — in the front garden. Out the back, many of the same plants were used to create a seamless flow from one section of the landscape to
the other, with notable additions including Gardenia ‘Augusta Florida’, Camellia sasanqua and Trachelospernum jasminoides (star jasmine).

The layout of the plants was kept simple and uncluttered, in line with the sleek, contemporary aesthetic chosen to create a ‘sanctuary’ feel. Black granite was chosen for the paving for its natural quality and good looks. Spotted gum, a durable hardwood, was used for the decking. These two materials complement the fencing, which is made of vertical timber battens out the back and rendered brick clad in cracked marble with vertical steel in-fills out the front.

The outdoor room, which was designed and built as part of the home, is equipped with a dining setting, ceiling fan, a fireplace inset into one wall and an outdoor kitchen gracing the facing wall. Enclosed with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and doors, the outdoor room offers comfort, a sense of sanctuary and an uninterrupted vista, no matter how hot or cool it is outside.

Credit for the contemporary design lays with Justine Carlile of Justine Carlile Landscape Design. From the large laser-cut metal artwork in the front garden to the simple, elegant planting design in the rear garden, every element of the design has been carefully thought out.

For more information

Simon McCurdy Landscapes

Written by Rachel Falzon

Photography by Patrick Redmond

Originally in Backyard Magazine Volume 9 Issue 2