Tag Archives: courtyard

Spring cleaning… the outdoors edition

21 Sep

Yes, it is Spring finally.  What do you need to do to make sure your garden is gorgeous? You will want to spend hours in it, but those hours shouldn’t be spent working and sweating, they should be spent enjoying and having fun.  It’s not much fun when all you can see are the things that need to be done, so here are five tips for spring “cleaning” your garden.

Don't let your garden get the better of you this spring! Image from http://www.24x7photography.com/2011/01/06/zombie-garden-sculpture/

1. Does your design do it for you? – Does your garden design work for you? Is everything in the right place and do you have the right structure for your garden.  Do you have a design or  plan, or is it all a bit ad-hoc?  A well designed space will provide you with hours of outdoor pleasure!  Do you have too much garden space?  Do you need so much lawn? Is the paving in the right place, do you need an extra path, could you tweek the levels a bit?  So many questions, but it pays to ask them.  You can do this yourself or pay a professional like me!  Check out Drawn Outdoors at your place for details.  Once you have a design that suits you, the time and resources you have available, and the activities you need, your garden might seem to almost take care of itself!  Here’s a Drawn Outdoors original I sketched up for my Mum a few years ago!

Mum's garden designed for her birthday a few years back.

2. Clean the floor – your hard surfaces need a little TLC too.  Whether you have a great deck, paving, gravel or just a concrete path, each of these does need a different treatment to keep them looking good and safe to use.  Winter tends to create a bit of moss and algae growth, so a bit of a clean and scrub will bring your hard surfaces back to a springtime state (we’re about to give our poor pathways a bit of love).  Don’t forget that decks love a little lick of oil, stain or varnish (depending on how you’ve finished them).  Gravel needs to be raked and topped up every now and again, and if your concrete really is looking a little worse for wear you can always give it a splash of textured paving paint – just check the slip factor first before you apply.  With your hard surfaces looking clean you’re halfway there.  And if you’re not so inclined to be a bit DIY, there are plenty of handymen out there who can take care of this for you!

3. Rip it out, cut it up – You don’t need to keep all of your plants forever, and they are OK if they lose a couple of limbs now and again.  One mistake people make is not being able to let go of plants that have reached their used by date or have just gotten a little too big for their space.  Have a good look, take stock and heave a huge breath then get out your secateurs or pruning saws.  Let rip – clean it out, keep what you love, get rid of stuff that’s taking over, or you just aren’t too keen on.  It’s OK, your garden will thank you for it.  Make room for the plants that you’re keeping to grow or the new plants to thrive.

4. Spread a little love – This comes in two forms – food and clothes (what the?).  Give your garden some food.  Spread a bit of fertilizer, dish out the compost.  You know you love it when someone gives you a box of chocolates, give your garden the same love.  The other thing your garden will love is a nice new layer of mulch.  This is the equivalent of a brand new spring wardrobe.  You’ll be surprised at how much difference a layer of mulch can make to your garden.  A basic leaf mulch will do the trick, though the more decorative eucalyptus and pine bark mulches look fantastic.

5. Style it up –   Add the right furniture, a bit of bling, some pots and a touch of colour and you might just transform your garden into an irresistible and inviting outdoor room.  Everyone has their own taste and style.  You can make it rustic and build your own furniture out of recycled materials or go for something in a sleek stainless steel finish.  Whatever you do make sure it can withstand the elements.  There’s no joy in hauling furniture in and out of storage each time you want to use it.  Here’s some inspiration…

Colour can be so much fun in the garden, give it a try. Image from http://rhsblog.co.uk/category/anewgarden/

Maybe you just need one key piece of furniture. Image from http://www.cankulagi.com/2011/04/08/beautiful-outdoor-furniture-design-2/

Whatever it is you need to change, add or just spring clean, make it fun and enjoy!



Inner West garden story – developing the concept

15 Jun

I thought I’d share with you a little garden design I prepared for some friends of mine.  I love designing for people I know, because a lot of the hard work is already done.  I don’t need to get to know the client, I don’t need to find out what they enjoy or what their tastes are.  I generally know all about how much time they’d like to spend in their garden and what it is they like to do there, so I jump at the opportunity to give advice and prepare designs for people I know and love.

This garden design was being prepared to complement a house extension and renovation in the inner west of Sydney, and unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of garden space after the construction work was completed.  The garden needed to maximise the space available while still providing for the everyday backyard functions like washing lines and lawnmower storage.

I have a few standard questions that I go through with clients before I prepare a landscape design for them.  They cover things like what are their short and long term objectives for the garden, what spaces or gardens do they like already and what will the space be used for.  This garden needed to be a “relaxed low maintenance garden which complements the new extension, creates a play area and softens the rear building.  Classic – contemporary look”

This was a relatively easy brief to work with, the difficulty lay in the limited space available to deliver it!

Here are some before photos – these were taken while the builders were still at work, so you can get a good idea of what we were going to be left to work with.

The good part about designing for friends, is that you can have some great design discussions at the pub over a glass of wine and a good meal.  Serviettes make great sketch pads!

Some serviette sketch ideas

After a bit of back and forwards, I delivered a couple of sketch design concepts for my friends to consider.

The 2 concept sketches

Both concepts are very similar, as there wasn’t a lot of scope for variation given the site constraints, but the subtle differences gave us enough food for thought to develop the concepts further.

I’ll keep you up to date on how this garden story develops, from dream to reality.


I have a little confession to make…

9 May

Yes, I have a little confession to make… I’m a landscape architect without a green thumb, in fact on evidence to date my thumb appears to be incredibly brown.  I’ve never had a garden to create and love, and any pot plant that managed to find its way to our very hot north facing balcony was on a fast track to pot plant heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I have the know how, I’m just not so good at remembering the little details like water.  I can design and document, detail and specify with the best of them, but when it comes down to getting my hands dirty and loving my little seedlings, I just get a bit negligent.  I always have the best intentions, but after a few good weeks or months, the novelty wears off, out of sight is out of mind and the poor petals wilt.

So, now is the time to put on my gardening gloves and put my money where my mouth is, and create my own little piece of garden utopia.  And when I say little, I mean little.  We have just moved from our gorgeous, but rented, apartment with fantastic maintained common areas, to a villa with a small and very neglected courtyard.

Garden 7 May 2011

Our new "garden" before the love

As you can see I have my work cut out for me, but I have a blank canvas and it’s so exciting!  Where do I start and where will I end up?

X Sam

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