This garden, created as a sanctuary on the coast, is a fusion of strong design elements and informal plantings – all packed into a sloping suburban block. If a coastal theme and plants will suit your place, nab a few of these ideas.
About the garden
This private backyard situated on a coastal hillside in the Illawarra region, south of Sydney, had many challenges. The site was subject to hot, dry conditions, as well as winds laden with sea spray. With all this in mind, landscape designer Grant Boyle transformed the space with hardwood sleepers and a mix of native and exotic plants. There’s an entertaining area at the front of the house to take in the view, while the steep slope of the back garden has been embraced, with a variety of terraced areas.
Inspired by nature
Natural materials feature heavily throughout this landscape, with the use of railway sleepers for steps and crushed earth-coloured granite for the flat areas and landings. Left exposed to the elements, these textures will become more appealing with time as they gradually weather. The stand-out feature of this garden is the effective use of sloping contours. Terracing gives the space a sense of dimension and anchors the garden zones. There’s an area designed for entertaining, a space to relax and play areas for the kids – which includes a surprisingly spacious lawn area.
5 ideas for you
1. Proportion and geometry give a garden definition, function and ultimately, beauty. When designing yours, create a ‘floor plan’ and use it to arrange your ideas.
2. Angles and curves create visual interest. Avoid placing all garden beds square with fences. Work in angled edges to allow for layers of plantings.
3. Take into consideration the rooms of your home that flow into the garden, such as the way your furniture faces towards the outdoors. Decide where the focal point will be and place a prominent feature in position, such as a water fountain or ornament.
4. Want to instantly create interest in your garden? It’s easy – take inspiration from cultures or looks you are inspired by then add elements from those environments.Collecting treasures from your travels to place in the garden will serve as delightful reminders – for example, add a few Balinese ornaments among tropical foliage – or the past industries in your area, like mines, railways or metalworks.
5. When planting, overlay your garden with foliage to soften hard‑edged elements like pathways and stairs. Plant from the back forward, starting with the tall anchor plants. Work your way forward and choose ground-covering plants to finish the borders and edges. Choose feature plants of contrasting colours and textures to add interest.
Set the seaside scene with native plants
Stachys byzantina (lambs’ ears)
Anigozanthos sp. (kangaroo paw)