1. Native plants
There are more than 24,000 species of plants native to Australia. These beauties are made to thrive in our climate and so make hardy additions to the backyard. There's gumtrees (aka Eucalyptus) and the Illawarra flame tree for height; kangaroo-paw, Banksia, Grevillia, Sturt's Desert Pea, Wattle, Waratah and Bottlebrush flowers to add a kaleidoscope of colour – and the list goes on. As an added bonus these plants also attract native birds and insects.
2. Hills Hoist clothesline
Uniquely Australian, the clothesline has become synonymous with the great Australian backyard – so much so there’s even a lyric dedicated to it in John Williamson’s classic tune, Give Me a Home Amongst the Gumtrees! And it’s not just any clothesline, we’re talking the Hills Hoist – which is up there with Vegemite on the Aussie icon scale! Invented more than 75 years ago, it’s an absolute must – allowing you to take advantage of the many days of sunshine (and save on energy costs).
While the classic rotary model is the most instantly brand recognisable of the Hills Hoist line-up, there’s now other options available that suit modern home designs including the Folding Frame, Retractable and Portable models. However, all are still made to the same standard of quality they were all those years ago – using extra-thick galvanised and powder-coated steel with engineering-grade plastic parts so it’ll withstand the harsh Aussie sun and last you a lifetime (just like the one at parent’s place has!).
3. Cricket pitch
Okay, so you might not want a Test Match set up in your backyard year-round but what you do want is a lovely patch of lawn for those long weekend and Christmas friend and family rounds. To do this, apply a slow-release lawn fertiliser which will feed your lawn for up to three months while also encouraging deeper root development and preventing surge growth. If rains are forecast, also invest in a wetting agent as this will help the lawn absorb the extra rainfall.
Next, choose a strip of lawn for your pitch ensuring any sixes won’t result in a broken window; you may need to angle your playing field if you have a smaller yard. Finally, create your pitch by dropping the height of your mower so the ball will achieve more bounce; you can keep the rest of your lawn at its usual height. Then, once the holidays are over bring your lawn back to normal by spreading Organic Topdress over it.
Back in the day, it was all about the freestanding Weber but now, it’s all about the dedicated outdoor kitchen with the barbecue. These seemingly simple appliances have undergone a massive transformation in the last decade or so and are now a big part of our outdoor way of life – with life lived outside and meals central to this.
When choosing a barbecue there are a number of questions to ask yourself: how big should you go, how much should you spend, how often will you use it, what kind of fuel would you prefer, and should you go for cast iron or stainless steel? Whichever model you choose just be sure it has a built-in thermometer, a solid construction and directs grease away from the burners to reduce flare-ups.
5. Patio, deck or pergola
In a sun-blessed country, you need a dedicated space to enjoy the great outdoors and make your backyard a second dining space. But before adding a hard structure, have a think about how you’d like to use it.
Will it just be you and your partner enjoying a morning coffee with the birds, or would you like big family dinners at your place, or perhaps even a second living room with sofas, an outdoor rug and a coffee table for lazy days spent napping in the sun?
Whatever you choose make sure you have adequate protection from both the sun and rain and choose furniture that can withstand both too.