contemporary garden design

Straight and narrow: Intelligent garden design



This cutting-edge design makes intelligent use of the garden’s limited space and awkward shape

contemporary garden design

outdoor entertaining pavillion

contemporary outdoor design

black tiled interior pool

A home with a bold new extension calls for an innovative garden design that will complement the house without overshadowing it. That’s exactly what the owners of this property in Melbourne were looking for when they signed on with local landscape design company Ian Barker Gardens.

It was essential to the owners that the new garden makes a unique statement while integrating seamlessly with both the extension and existing house. It was also important that the design incorporate their principal requirements: a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and a non-negotiable covered entertaining area, as the family is keen on barbecuing year-round.

“They were willing to let us push the boundaries, allowing us to think outside the square and design something that was contemporary and innovative, rather than safe and traditional” says landscape architect Bethany Williamson. The design also had to take into account the owners’ two young children, giving them their own space to play outdoors.

Bethany and the team from Ian Barker Gardens designed a sleek and graphic contemporary-style garden featuring strong shapes and clean, hard lines. The garden space consists of two converging narrow perpendicular areas. A cleverly designed paving layout was implemented in the area running alongside the house to achieve the best result in the limited space.

“Rather than employ the common design solution of designing paving lines perpendicular to the length of the space as a way of opening it up and giving the illusion of a wider area, this design plays on the length of the space instead,” says Bethany. “The paving lines have been designed so they run parallel to the length of the long narrow space, working effectively to accentuate the depth of the property rather than oppose it”.

Further enhancing the property’s sense of depth is the inclusion of three buffed concrete benches set among the paving. These rectangular benches, while functional, also act as a clever design device. With the accompanying planting of didgery sticks, planted in blocks alongside the benches, and the strips of dwarf mondo grass running parallel to the length, the benches and plants help direct the eye through the space and draw focus to the alfresco area in the corner.

The covered alfresco area, with its stone fireplace and polished concrete floor, is a stunning setting for socialising and relaxing. Offering views of the entire garden, “you can sit and relax while looking out over the gorgeous black tiled pool and appreciate the reflections of the ever-changing sky,” says Bethany. You can also cast your eye over the paving design on the other side of the garden, which on a sunny day, she adds, “glows with dappled sunlight filtering through the Japanese maple trees.”

With a muted colour palette of greys, blacks and whites and accentuating pops of green in the planting as well as the selection of an olive-coloured pot housing an agave, this garden is the perfect mix of contemporary design, function and innovation. The outcome of this intelligent design is a garden that ticks all the boxes for its owners, providing a cutting-edge yet functional space that goes against the grain and suits their lifestyle perfectly.


WORDS & PHOTOS: Sally Plottel

From Backyard & Garden Design Ideas magazine Issue 11. 5