Enjoy your outdoors
PO box 155, Stanhope Gardens, NSW 2768
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22 Jul 2015

Garden Design & Landscaping Surry Hills


The brief: Turn a typical inner city terrace backyard into a French Courtyard to provide extra living space.

The owner of this property in Sydney’s Surry Hills had a typical small pokey east facing backyard which backed up onto a large block wall. Knowing space was at a premium and needing to expand this small house’s living space, I came up with an innovative design to maximise the small space.

The original space was about 7 sqm with an outdoor laundry and old toilet. Interior designer Jonathan Clarke of Urban Interior Design had come up with a clever design that enabled the kitchen space to open out to an alfresco dining area. The ultimate aim of this space was to seamlessly integrate the indoor and outdoor flow and to make a small outdoor area feel like an open extra living green space.


The back area of the house was demolished and reconfigured to use the existing side return as an extra kitchen dining space. This increased the outdoor area to be around 25 sqm. This needed to become a light and bright area – and with walls on all sides, this also needed to reflect a feeling of light and space which is much needed in the inner city. Large sized white coloured concrete pavers were used to give a feeling of space. They were laid on a bed of river sand to allow for drainage when it rained and stop the paved area becoming a pond. Mature Ficus cones were used to give the feeling that the garden had been established for a long time and two old 19th century French doors were mirrored and mounted on the large back wall thus reflecting the garden and giving a feeling of space and grand proportions. A French Urn was used with a Gardenia standard and under planted with annuals. White painted hardy plank walls and wooden trellis were used on the sides to give an impression of ‘French country’.

Overall the feeling of the space made the courtyard feel grand as well as spacious and made a dark underused space an integral part of the house and created a much needed extra entertaining space.



22 Jul 2015

Garden Design & Landscaping Coogee


This is a front garden that makes a spectacular first impression. Not only is it the owner’s main outdoor living area, it has a wonderfully “beachy” feel that is perfectly at home given the property’s location in the Sydney beachside suburb of Coogee.

The goal was to create a usable outdoor space, something that would function as an extension of the house, could be enjoyed by the whole family and was easy to maintain

explains designer Nathan Lawler from The Labyrinth Garden.

But the design savvy owner also wanted the space to have instant impact and he wanted to have input into the final design. “I worked very closely with my client, Ian Wingrove,” says Nathan. “Ian also comes from a design background, so it was very important to him that the design not only looked great but was very usable. His input into the design was valuable.” To give the garden immediate impact and project a very welcoming feel, Nathan introduced different surfaces, levels and textures. “The concept was inspired by coastal boardwalks and old beach houses — hence the use of recycled timber for the decking — yet we wanted a level of formality,” says Nathan. “This was achieved by the use of the sandstone planter boxes and marble pavers. “When Ian was on holidays in Noosa he came across an interesting, well-detailed fence and he wanted to use a similar design in his garden,” continues Nathan. “To replicate this we built the fence using common house bricks that we clad with white sandstone flagging. We then used Australian blackbutt timber in selected sizes to create the feature section of horizontal slats.” Nathan is particularly proud of the detail in the timber fencing and stone work as well as the deck built using milled-down old hardwood railway sleepers and the large day bed that wraps around the existing mature jacaranda. Australian blackbutt was used to create the day bed, which cleverly includes a trap door that leads to a storage space where Ian can keep his surfboards.


When designing the garden, a major consideration was the lack of sunlight, which caused the existing lawn to die off and the large fig and jacaranda to constantly shed leaves. This led to the decision to remove the lawn and install hard surfaces instead — a mix of imported marble pavers and timber decking. The low-light conditions also informed the choice of new plants, which include cordylines, agaves and star jasmine.

The use of timber furniture adds to the warmth of the space and, to add character and an element of fun, climbing ropes hang from the jacaranda and a little seating platform has been erected in the fork of the trunk.