Stepping Up

Stepping Up


Garden DesignFlexible, functional and family friendly, this stunning garden ticks all the boxes
Story: Karen Booth

Photos: Peter Brennan

When people talk about creating a family garden, it’s often for mum, dad and a toddler or two. In this instance, a garden that could accommodate the current and future needs of a young couple with five children, ranging in age from 10 to one, is what was required.

Not very surprisingly, words such as “functional” and phrases like “low-maintenance” peppered the initial conversations between garden designer Elizabeth Lueck of Sydney Outdoors Landscapes and the couple. But while practicality was to be the order of the day, this wasn’t to be at the expense of style. The couple wanted a modern garden that would complement their refurbished home.

Elizabeth Luek describes her ever-so-slightly formal rear garden design as “one of balance and symmetry between the pool and lawn area — like Yin and Yang”. This rectilinear approach and reliance on clean lines is evident in the other areas around the home, but no more so than in the timber decking, stepping pad-style side pathway and pool surrounds.

“Redesigning the existing pool was crucial to the garden makeover but this had to be done while maintaining enough space for exercise and pleasure, incorporating a sunbathing and lounge area and enlarging the lawn area to provide space for the children to play sports and games. And we needed to incorporate the family’s circular trampoline,” says Luek.

For a modern look and to match the terraces at the front and back of the house, Italian Pecorino pavers were used for the pool surround. To give an uncluttered look, the pool is surrounded by frameless glass fencing and the cleaning and filtering systems are hidden by the decking.

The decking, constructed of spotted gum timber, is one of the stand-out features of the design. There is even a sandpit incorporated into the decking that can be converted to another use, say, a herb garden, when the children have grown — a prime example of the design’s functionality and flexibility.

“Plantings are low-maintenance and drought-tolerant while providing a tropical effect with contrasting foliage. The look is green and lush with splashes of warm colour,” says Luek.

Mass plantings accented by several architectural plants lead you down the side pathway from the main entrance to the backyard and pool area. Along the side fence line, quick-growing slender weaver’s bamboo screens out the neighours yet still allows delicate dappled light to shine through into the house.

Photinia rubra screen the back fence line, their vibrant-red foliage adding seasonal colour.

“For border planting alongside the garden bed areas and pool fencing, we used Liriope ‘Evergreen Giant’. This is quite a hardy, drought-tolerant plant that thrives in sun or shade and has strappy, glossy dark green leaves that contribute to the tropical effect. As a bonus, they blossom with delicate lavender flowers in late summer to autumn,” says Luek.

“To create a tropical effect, we used a range of plants including cordylines, various species of ginger, New Zealand flax, several varieties of bromeliad, golden cane palms, philodendron, Heliconia species and jasmine.

“Looking straight out from the dining area inside the house there are accent plantings such as a semi-mature frangipani. This provides a focal point and softens the area by providing an interesting trunk during winter and beautiful foliage and fragrant flowers the rest of the year, not to mention a canopy that gives a great sense of space.

“From the lower outside level it also leaves you with an interesting sense of curiosity to see where the path leads to, separating the main entrance area from the pool and the back of the garden.”

Today, no garden design is considered complete without a well-considered outdoor lighting plan. Here, the lighting not only serves to enhance the planted areas — the accent plants in particular — it makes the garden safe to navigate come nightfall.

To enhance the tropical feel, Natureed has been used as a backdrop for the bamboo and around the boundary of the pool area. The warmth of the natural reed material works splendidly with the decking and helps to set the right tone.