Design Directions - Outdoors & Gardens

Design Directions - Outdoors & Gardens

Last Updated: 19 Nov 2014
Lily Yeang

How clever use of individual elements can elevate the design of your garden.


Creating depth within a small garden can be as easy as adding some measured angles to its design. Here, large black granite steppers are set into washed aggregate paving at an angle. The steppers draw the eye away from the house and out towards a subtly placed water wall. Pavers curve around shrubs and trees, highlighting the plants and breaking up the harshness that angular lines can create, while allowing the natural environment to be included. The colour palette lends itself well to the modern/contemporary feel of the home, and acts as a perfect tranquil getaway for the family. CultivArt Landscape Design 0414 865 747,

Photography Natalie Hunfalvay. Photography styling Adam Robinson Design.


Due to the intense heat they produce, pizza ovens tend to be more at home outdoors than in. Installed in an undercover area, this Zesti inbuilt pizza oven provides warmth to the area in winter, and acts as a safe place for budding cooks, junior MasterChefs or pizza-makers extraordinaires to cook, create, and generally make a mess without ruining mum's kitchen. Rolling Stone Landscapes (02) 9651 5002,


This home by Craig Steere Architects features the ultimate beachside alfresco area, providing the best in both indoor and outdoor luxuries. White timber battens fixed to the underside of the pergola roof's steel-framed beams emulate a weathered 'beach house' aesthetic, similarly evoked by Alaskan cedar timber decking and a predominantly white colour palette. The ceiling provides adequate protection from the elements, while maintaining a beachside feel. Large glass-panelled sliding doors open up to allow an easy transition between indoors and out, and the enclosed barbecue unit provides the best in outdoor cooking facilities. Craig Steere Architects (08) 9380 4662,


High walls can be a small garden's best friend, providing prime real estate for a vertical garden. In this Fremantle courtyard, landscape designer Janine Mendel used boldly coloured wall sections, an angular copper water wall, and Corten steel grids to create a space that encompasses all areas, drawing attention away from the size of the yard and up to the sky. Small wall climbers were planted at the base of the grids, and over time will grow up the height of the wall. The garden had little to no space for planting due to a pre-existing concrete base and stone paving, so large Corten steel planter boxes were included, along with a rustic limestone nib and a chunky timber bench. CultivArt Landscape Design 0414 865 747,


Steel's not only used for its strength and durability – it's a great sculptural material, too. It has the ability to form different shapes and structures, like this freestanding arbour made up of white steel poles of alternating lengths and sizes. The stark, white-painted beams give the garden a contemporary edge, while the openness of the structure allows guests to have unobstructed views of the backyard. The addition of sky-facing spotlights reflects light up each post, illuminating the sculpture while lighting the way for nighttime wanderers. SolScapes 0422 069 310,


Good landscaping isn't always about using the latest in top-range products and materials. Recycling can be just as effective, not to mention easy on the pocket. Old red bricks can be repurposed as pavers to create boundaries and paths in intricate shapes and forms, or to build a fire pit or even a feature wall. The bricks bring a traditional, old-charm look to any garden, their faded appearance and mix-matched colours perfect for a rustic design. The best bit: patterns are limited only by the creativity of the designer. DBM Landscapes 0418 854 416,


Vertical walls provide the opportunity to have a touch of nature in even the most contained and urban of environments. In this design by Sustainable Garden Design Perth, copper vessels have been attached to a wall in a shaded location, filled with dichondra 'Silver Falls', variegated bromeliads, sedum 'Gold Mound', Chlorophytum comosum (non-variegated form), Rhoeo spathacea, and Muehlenbeckia complexa. The tapestry of plants with different foliage shapes, colours and textures enlivens the brick wall behind it, and acts as a living feature for the garden. Sustainable Garden Design Perth 0405 303 824,


Why not try mixing materials for a modern-meets-contemporary look? It can be as simple as putting both steel and glass together for an alternative fencing solution. Here, custom-made rusted steel poles are placed in a line, met halfway by a clear glass partition. The brown steel poles create a focal point while hiding the duller parts of the garden, and the glass separates the backyard into two divided sections, at the same time maintaining a sense of openness within it. Principal Landscapes 0402 902 346,

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Corners don't need to be used just as a child's purgatory: they're the perfect location for pots, decorative lights, water features or lounge chairs. Instead of wasting space, the designers of this garden constructed a triangular lounge, its simple colour palette reflecting well off the rustic red brick wall behind it. To soften the transition between traditional and modern, silver succulents have been planted directly behind the lounge. The levels created from the pool, lounge and flowerbeds make the garden an enjoyable spot to rest. Outside In (08) 9450 4922,


Gardens are as much about interaction as they are escape, but what comes in handy is having an area that allows for both. Paving stones of alternating colours can be a lovely outdoor sitting area, or can be turned just as quickly into a giant outdoor chess set. Mondo Landscapes worked with the owners of this property in Lesmurdie to infuse their large collection of garden art and sculptures into the overall design. The chessboard allows for the Bali-imported chess pieces to be on show, but also provides a large area for gatherings, or a peaceful spot to read a book. Mondo Landscapes 0417 171 198,


The shower. It's taken for granted indoors, but when placed outdoors it becomes the ultimate summer garden accessory. It's perfect for coastal residences like this home in Cottesloe, where the owners, who are regular beach visitors, can wash their sandy feet after a swim. To transform it from inside to out, the designers fixed an old-fashioned plated tap and shower set to a weathered piece of recycled jarrah. Limestone was used to line the base of the shower, while lush dichondra lawn was laid to absorb the run-off from the taps. Soft lighting was used so the area can be enjoyed even after those late-night dips. Sustainable Garden Design Perth 0405 303 824,


Bioethanol fires are the perfect addition to any outdoor setting, creating a warming atmosphere while maintaining a chic, modern look. Most are portable, safe, clean and environmentally friendly, like the Cocoon Terra portable outdoor ethanol fireplace, which can also be converted into a hanging fire, or the Zig Zag fire pit (below), which features an internal and external structure in black manganese powder-coated aluminium. The pit has the clever addition of a removable inset ceramic top, so the piece can double as a coffee table when the fire isn't in use. Jetmaster Fireplaces WA (08) 9328 5777,; S&M Mobilia (08) 9284 5599,


Breaking up the crisp, white wall that leads to this home in City Beach are salvaged grey breeze blocks, which emulate the neighbouring mid-century streetscape and reflect the home's modernist architectural style. These intricately shaped bricks screen the way to the home's entrance while providing a contrast to the stark, white rendered walls of the home. Further dimming down the white walls are low-maintenance succulents and drought-resistant natives, which add a natural element to the predominantly covered area; and semi-frameless glass balustrading, which allows unsurpassed views of the raised pool. Hillam Architects (08) 6380 1877,


An arbour is the perfect substitute for a fully enclosed, undercover gazebo area. The beams of this example allow light to seep through the vines of the climbing roses, while providing protection from the sun's rays during summer. Similarly, the white filigree shutters divide the lawn area and the pool, but can open to allow the green space from the marquee lawn to be viewed. The arbour replaced an existing one that needed updating, and was handmade by The Wrought Iron Factory. Tim Davies Landscaping (08) 9441 0200,


Dark isn't necessary dull, especially when used in contrast with whites and browns, as shown in this garden by Principal Landscapes. Three distinct areas of the garden – the deck, the pot plant garden and the mulch garden – fit together like a puzzle, the colour tones working from dark to light, the material palette soft to hard. A wooden border frames each section, acting as a clear divide between the mulch, basalt stone and jarrah deck. The bright white pots and deckchairs help to further animate the garden design. Principal Landscapes 0402 902 346,


Aptly placed screens are a great way to shield the home from unwanted eyes, while livening up an area with unique designs and patterns.
A Corten screen, nestled between the trees in the yard of this Fremantle home, blocks the garden from people using the busy walkway behind it. Emulating its surroundings, the screen itself has been laser-cut with beautiful trees, allowing bursts of light to shine through. The durability of the material used means the screen requires little to no maintenance, and will last as long as the trees growing around it. Sustainable Garden Design Perth 0405 303 824,


Single garden elements like an oversized pot or water feature can be both cost-effective and visually pleasing. This Victorian-style garden is positioned around a black signature pot, placed atop a small square podium. The garden works well with the corner block it's situated on, the square patch of grass fitting neatly within the courtyard space, and the feature drawing attention away from the size of the area. Empire Lane (08) 6262 7252,


Space isn't the only issue affecting the design of a garden. As our lives get busier and our time more limited, the backyard can often pay the price. Low-maintenance gardens are increasingly popular for those who have limited amounts of time and money, but still want to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. DuraLife Decking makes the perfect flooring for any outdoor area, and can be enhanced by furniture, pot plants and sun umbrellas. The deck is also scratch-, stain- and slip-resistant, and doesn't fade over time like your average wooden floorboard. Composite Materials Australia 1300 719 235,


Sometimes incorporating existing plants and trees into a design can be a lot easier than removing them. With large trees, decking can be placed at their base, allowing for the tree to continue growing while providing shade for the new area below. This raised deck under a giant gum tree provides a space for the home's family to relax and hang out, personalised with soft furnishings such as cushions and beanbags. The floor space taken up by the decking minimises the use of lawn and reduces the amount of water that would have been used to maintain it. Over time the garden will grow around the deck, giving it a more lush, private feel. Tim Davies Landscaping (08) 9441 0200,


Walls, unlike fences, don't need to be covered in foliage, but rather can be used as a feature background to a garden design. Walls are an excellent way to add texture and interest to your garden, and open up a vast number of styling options that help to mix things up, especially if you've only got a small garden to work with. With muted tones, walls can easily be jazzed up by the placement of some pots, soft, low-growing planting, or statement furniture. Opt for contrasting colours – for dull creams or stone, for instance, try blues, pinks and greens. Empire Lane (08) 6262 7252,

Photography Kate Brockhurst.


Alfrescos are the go-to spaces for dining and entertaining in summer, providing all the luxuries of indoor living in an outdoor setting. More and more designs include a small kitchen and sitting area, and are often segregated from the main home. A pool separates this modern alfresco from the house, the area only accessible via stone steppers. The design incorporates stainless steel finishes with a leather lounge, the box-like room open just enough to allow access to the pool and spa, while providing adequate protection from the elements. Mondo Landscapes 0417 171 198,


With the help of downward-facing lights, a simple panel bench by day can easily transform into a prime feature at night. Hidden underneath a slightly overhanging, curved seating area, the lights produce an illuminated path for people passing by, and make this an inviting spot to sit at night. The curving nature of the bench breaks up the foliage lining the house and allows for multiple sitters, all the while freeing up the deck for those who wish to stand. Outside In (08) 9450 4922,


It's obvious that pools are becoming increasingly popular additions to backyards, but what's less obvious is their move away from being fixtures that are tucked away in the corner of the garden. Instead, pools are fast becoming prominent year-round features for all to enjoy. With design-and-build techniques constantly developing, you can now have a pool created for almost any space or location, of any size or shape. Lap pools built along the boundary perimeter can cover vast amounts of space, and if teamed with a stylish water feature, can be a visual attraction in any home. North Shore Pools (08) 9448 3318,

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