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MEET THE MAKERS Innovative people and their amazing outdoor spaces


RETRO-FIT A WALL GARDEN It’s easier than you think


ISSUE 13.4 AUS $8.95* NZ $9.99 (INCL. GST)

Build a straw-bale garden Make your own starter pots

Get the recycled look FUN WAYS TO REUSE & UPCYCLE

PLUS Backyard paving pointers | Growing potted microgreens Decks for outdoor living | How to install a new lawn

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Editor Karen Booth Email: Designer Kate Podger Sub-Editor Anastasia Casey Sales Managers National Sales & Publishing Manager & NSW Sales Emil Montibeler Mobile: 0411 424 335 Email: NSW, ACT & Qld: Miriam Keen Mobile: 0414 969 693 Email: Vic, WA & Tas: Pilar Danlag Mobile: 0414 468 243 Email: SA: Sandy Shaw Mobile: 0418 806 696 Email: Advertising Senior Designer Martha Rubazewicz Advertising Production Hannah Felton Publisher Janice Williams Subscriptions & Mail Orders Phone: 1300 303 414 Cover Photo Garden design: Bates Landscape Photography: Jason Busch

Chairman/CEO Prema Perera Publisher Janice Williams Chief Financial Officer Vicky Mahadeva Associate Publisher Emma Perera Associate Publisher Karen Day Circulation Director Mark Darton Creative Director Kate Podger Editorial & Production Manager Anastasia Casey Production Executive Nerilee Chen Prepress Manager Ivan Fitz-Gerald Marketing & Acquisitions Manager Chelsea Peters Backyard is published by Universal Magazines, Unit 5, 6-8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Melbourne office: Suite 4, Level 1, 150 Albert Road, South Melbourne Vic 3025. Phone: (03) 9694 6444, Fax: (03) 9699 7890. Printed by Times Printers Pte Ltd, Singapore. Distributed by Network Services, Phone: (02) 9282 8777. Singapore & Malaysia Distributor: Carkit (F.E.) Pte Ltd, 1 Charlton Lane, #01-02, Singapore 539631, Phone: +65 6282 1960, Fax: +65 6382 3021, Website: This magazine may have some content that is advertorial or promotional in nature. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Environmental statement: This magazine is printed on paper produced in a mill which meets Certified Environmental Management System ISO4001 since 1995 and EMAS since 1996. Please pass on or recycle this magazine. * Recommended retail price ISSN 1448-5001 Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXV ACN 003 026 944 We are a member of

editor's note elcome to the new-look Backyard — a magazine for those who don’t just dream of an amazing garden and a fantastic outdoor lifestyle, they’re prepared to get out there and make it happen. Backyard is for people who do a lot of their living in their gardens. Outdoors is where they gather with their extended family and friends, and it’s where the kids get to express their creativity and connect with nature. Getting the kids involved is key, so we’ll be bringing you projects the whole family can do together. In this edition, we begin by showing you how to turn toilet rolls and newspaper into seedling starter pots, and providing easy stepby-step instructions for building raised garden beds from straw bales. And if you’re looking for a fun — and nutritious — gift idea, we show you how to grow microgreens in a quirky container or pretty plant pot, the choice is yours. Sometimes the best inspiration — and greatest ideas — come from seeing what other people have achieved so in every issue of Backyard, we will share the real-life stories of Australian families who love to garden and spend time outdoors. Here, we introduce you to two young families who have created flourishing edible gardens and spaces for outdoor living. They impart their tips for sustainable and organic gardening and show you what can be achieved when you get every generation of the family involved. Part of the process in creating a backyard living space is putting in a deck, building a patio, setting up a pergola or whatever is needed to provide a comfortable and appealing outdoor gathering space. Sometimes you want to get someone in to do it for you, other times you want to do it yourself, and sometimes it will be a bit of both. Our features will offer plenty of practical how-to advice and hands-on tips to see you through the whole process. In this edition, we kick off by looking at decking, paving and vertical gardens, followed by a guide to choosing, installing and caring for new turf.


Karen Booth Editor



10 MAKERS Working it Novel backyard offices and garden studios from around the world


Laying it down Choosing, installing and taking care of your new lawn


A healthy start Top tips for improving your soil and ensuring lawn health


Pest patrol How to keep your lawn free of pesky white curl grubs


Food for the family We join a young family on their edible gardening adventure


It's only natural Naturalistic plantings and a repurposed shipping container


Heaven on earth

Simple pleasures


Red, white and blue A simple but effective planting palette transforms this garden

Now and then Effortlessly blending the old with the new, this garden is stunning




Hidden treasure This country-style retreat is just minutes away from a busy CBD

Overflowing garden beds and cosy outdoor spaces — pure bliss



“There is something very appealing about the patina of rusted metal, old stone or wood that is well seasoned” 108

Easy indoor-outdoor transitions connect this family to nature





Home-made compost — good for the garden, good for the planet


Bug off! Non-chemical ways to dispatch or deter garden pests


Micro magic Give a friend — or yourself — the gift of potted microgreens


Second time around Fun ways to recycle materials and reuse objects in your backyard


Get hands-on Projects you and the family can do

What you need to know about adding a backyard deck


Up the wall


Make the most of your outdoor space with a vertical garden

Natural attraction A traditional Japanese hill garden in the midst of the suburbs

For added value, add a deck

Heaps of goodness

On solid footing Some practical paving pointers

Bounty of bales Build a straw-bale garden with our step-by-step instructions


Going to pot How to make seedling pots out of newspaper and toilet rolls


Space for Living Innovative outdoor living ideas


This Weekend Products for weekend projects


Backyard Stuff Tools, plants, edging and more


Index of Advertisers

120 GROW Nothing so sweet Savour the flavour of home-grown heirloom tomatoes


3D Sails are designers and manufacturers of innovative shade solutions from the backyard garden area or swimming pool to the entertaining deck or outdoor area, entry foyer or alternative vehicle protection on or off the driveway area. They can even manufacture outdoor or cafĂŠ style blinds to decks and caravan annexes. All of our shade sails or structures are made from top quality galvanized steel, cast aluminium joiners and finished in 316 stainless steel hardware to ensure your shade investment will be here for generations to come. We primarily use Rainbow Shade Shade-cloth on domestic work offering a 10 year guarantee on material components. Waterproof membranes that are also available for specific

jobs are manufactured from join welded Ferrari PVC fabric which is also recognised as one of the most stable and long-life materials on the market. Covering both commercial and domestic installations on the South Coast area of NSW from Merimbula to Nowra and inland to Canberra 3D Sails offer an obligation free quote and shade design service and in many cases can provide simulated computer images of the design in a huge range of colours and UV levels to suit almost all requirements. Visit our websites or where we update our clients recent installations or call 1300 888 509 to discuss your shade requirements.

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don't miss a beat keep in touch to keep up-to-date STEEL YOURSELF Corten steel is a popular choice for everything from screening and garden edging to plant pots and lighting, due to its strength and stable, rust-like appearance. The family that call this Melbourne property home wanted a raised vegetable garden that would look decidedly modern so Grounded Gardens custom designed and built these raised beds using Corten steel.

WE LOVE this curved shell home situated deep within the Karuizawa Forest in Japan. Perfectly illustrating the union between art and architecture, the home is by Japanese ďŹ rm Artechnic.

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT Unwanted tyres are a big problem worldwide so a plant pot made out of recycled tyres ... well, that is getting a lot of traction. Made in the United Kingdom, Burgon & Ball's Tyre Plant Pots are flexible and durable. The pots stand 16cm high and when filled with potting mix, expand to a diameter of 6cm.



TIME TO SHINE Garden shows are one of the best ways to get inspiration, and one of the best shows on the international circuit is Britain’s Chelsea Flower Show. This year, Selling Houses Australia landscaper Charlie Albone took up the gauntlet, representing Australia and winning a Silver-Gilt Medal for his show garden, The Time In Between. The garden, an homage to the father he lost as a boy, was replete with standout elements. One was a show-stopping water feature with a water level that dropped out within three seconds, emulating the feeling one gets when they lose a loved one.

FIRE IN THE HOOD The Bollyhood is an all-in-one tandoor and pizza oven in a handcrafted terracotta body. Locally designed and made by Cameron Williams Pottery, Bollyhood is based on the principles of a traditional tandoor but with the added bonus of a pizza hood and stone, so you can expand your repertoire of charcoal and wood-fired dishes. Bollyhood is available in both large and small sizes and comes with metal skewers, a tagine, a pizza base and wooden spatula.

MIXING IT UP Spring is the perfect time for kitchen gardening. If you're short on space, you can grow edibles in just about any container. Use a mix of plants for visual interest or to provide a choice of home-grown produce. Just make sure they all have the same watering and light needs. Line your container properly, add drainage holes and use quality potting mix.

Photo courtesy or Floradania.

MATTER OF SCALE The Pear, an over-scale, Australian-made, bronze sculpture from Willie Wildlife Sculptures, is the sole artwork in this garden designed by Lisa Ellis Gardens. It stands more than 1m tall and sits on a lawn of prostrate rosemary. At night, the sculpture and nearby feature planting are illuminated by LED lighting. When choosing a position for a large artwork (this one weighs in at 100kg), view the spot from all angles to make sure it’s right because once you get it in place, moving it at a later date might not be feasible.; BACKYARD


the Makers With a little creativity and technical know-how you can make your backyard office or garden studio into something truly amazing

OUT OF THE BOX With its unconventional shape, the architect-designed Tetra Shed has been a massive hit with its British customer base. An alternative to the cuboid shape of the typical modern pre-fab, each shed has a hexagonal footprint of 10.4m² (4m at its widest) and an overall height of 3.3m. The materials are simple: engineered timber clad with matt black rubber and birch-faced plywood lining. As the shed is meant to


be customisable, other cladding materials include oak, cork rubber and metals such as zinc and copper; windows can be added in or removed. The Tetra Shed also features programmable electric underfloor heating and LED lighting, both of which can be controlled via mobile apps. This kind of flexibility means the “sheds” can be used for a variety of purposes. The Tetra Shed can be installed by professionals or a handy DIY team of two.


Photography by Patrick Redmond.

BACKYARD BLISS Home office, man cave, yoga studio ‌ you name it. You can have any kind of structure you want in your own backyard, and you can do it in a highly architectural way. Backyard Room is an Australian-designed and -built pre-fab system offering a choice of three designs, including the BYR2, which is the largest and the one featured here. The BYR2 is designed to accommodate a sloping green roof and when set in a lovely landscaped garden such as this (designed and built by Daniel Tyrrell Landscapes), it blends effortlessly into your backyard. Add a deck if you want to sit outside to read, work or just enjoy the fresh air on a spring day. Like most pre-fabs, Backyard Room offers a variety of optional extras so you can tailor it to meet your needs.


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MAKE MINE MODULAR Whether nestled under a tree, surrounded by garden beds or set upon an expanse of lawn, this pre-fab modular outdoor room, called Harmony by its designer, manages to look incredibly open yet still feel warm and cosy. Harmony is the creation of Kent Johansson of Kenjo System AB in Sweden. It is built out of Swedish spruce, a local and renewable resource, and features a folding glass sliding door system, set within


aluminium frames. This reinforces Johansson’s design intent — to create openness in the look, feel and use. Harmony can be called into duty as an office, pool house or guesthouse, and even a sauna. The modular system offers a good degree of flexibility with different-sized glulam frames plus various wall sections and roofs. Energy-efficient and customisable, it can be built on-site by Kenjo carpenters, supplied fully assembled or owners can go down the DIY route.




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CUBE OF GREEN A once run-down corner storage shed is now a very smart backyard studio. Described as a “cube of green”, thanks to the leafy embrace of the ivy that grows along the metal framework that was added to the exterior, this totally reinvented structure is not just a practical inclusion, it’s an alluring garden focal point that can be viewed from various places within the home. The row house property is located in San Francisco and sits


adjacent to one of that city’s most famous parklands, the Presidio. The goal was to make the garden feel as soft as possible so the planting palette uses green and white plants and emphasises texture. Fullness is key, as evidenced in the abundance of garden beds that wrap around the studio. This project won an Honour Award in the 2010 American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Awards for Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture.

Photography by John Sutton.



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AHOY THERE! When the artist who calls this Sydney property home needs to express herself, she makes a beeline for her beloved garden studio. This timber-built structure features bifold glass doors, which invite the garden — and lots of sunshine — in. There’s also a skylight that sits in the middle of the green roof. Quirkiness rules with the windows; one is of traditional stained glass, the other is framed by a reclaimed


lifebuoy. The garden, which has a subtle sea-faring feel, is an open-air gallery for the artist’s work, which includes an inuksuk stone sculpture, included as a symbol of her homeland, Canada. The refurbished parquetry table inside the studio can be used for creating artworks or, after things are tidied away, for dinner parties. For larger social gatherings, the table can be removed so people can move in and out of the studio with ease.

Photography by Peter Brennan.



LET YOUR JOY BE CONTAINED Customised shipping containers are finding a permanent place in the suburbs, as outdoor rooms and garden studios, and even complete homes. They can be transformed into just about anything — a teenagers’ retreat, a home office, a spare bedroom, a music room or a chill-out zone. You can source and convert a container yourself or you can take the easy route and call on a company such as Royal Wolf that specialises in

the production of modified containers. Able to be customised to individual requirements, Royal Wolf’s latest offering, the 20-foot-long Outdoor Room, is fitted with power, lighting and air conditioning for “plug-and-play” installation. The floors are made of timber, the sliding doors are of glass and there is insulation to keep you comfortable. They’re also weatherproof and designed so they can be locked up and kept secure. Perfect for the modern garden.


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LITTLE BIT COUNTRY When designing this backyard art studio, Melbourne architect Marian Long went more than just a little bit country. Blending the owners’ love of all things rustic and recycled, reclaimed corrugated iron was used for the exterior of the studio — the perfect match for the weathered timber of the nearby pergola. To reach the studio, you follow a winding stepping-stone path that leads from the back of the house through a garden


awash with highly textured and skilfully layered plants, including some very impressive giant kangaroo paws. From the verandah of the studio, you can look across a pond-style rain garden. This is lined with river pebbles and bordered by knobby club rush, tassel cord rush and didgery sticks. The pond fills with water when there’s been sufficient rain, after which it slowly drains away into the garden where it nurtures the plants.

Photography by Patrick Redmond.


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ABOVE LEFT At the end of each summer, there is a bountiful harvest of pumpkins. ABOVE RIGHT At all times of the year, there is something to harvest from the garden.


Family FOR THE

As this family has discovered, the benefits of creating a productive garden go beyond fresh fruit and veg


Words & photos: Diane Norris ardening couple Aaron and Rebecca Tyndall live in the NSW Hunter Valley. They have two sons — toddler River and baby Marley — and are passionate about sustainable living. Their block is about 790m² and the garden takes up all of the front yard and more than half of the backyard. It enjoys the perfect climate for growing all sorts of edibles: warm and humid in summer, cool to cold in winter. It all began about nine years ago when Aaron and Rebecca dug up a patch of lawn to create a small garden bed for a few vegies and herbs. “We did manage to grow a lot in this small space but quickly realised we wanted to grow more,” says Aaron. “So we gradually dug up more and more lawn to make room for vegie gardens. Once we started, we just couldn’t stop. “We both had families who grew some vegies, so we did know how tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins etc grew. We think it’s important that children know how ‘real’ vegies and fruit grow — and taste them straight off the plant. I’m sure that seeing this as kids influenced us to start growing our own once we had our own place.”



Aaron, Rebecca and eager helper River proudly stand amid the bounty of their front garden.


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LEFT Aaron and Rebecca make use of a vertical space with an espaliered apple tree.

cuttings direct to garden beds. Near the garden are four black, plastic (Can-O-Worms) worm farms, which are given most of the food scraps. Aaron says sensible and safe pest control is quite easy. They net some individual fruits and will try netting the entire mulberry tree next spring as they have struggled with fruit fly. Near the brassicas, there are cute, little, plastic, white butterfly shapes, which Aaron says seem to deter Cabbage White butterflies. And the two free-ranging chickens are adept at keeping down snails, slugs and curl grubs as well as producing eggs on a regular basis.

BACK TO BASICS Aaron says the soil under the front lawn was dead before they dug it up and turned it into a garden. It had been over-fertilised with commercial fertilisers and repelled water. It didn’t even have insects and bugs living in it. “We had to work hard to build it up into a healthy soil that would bring back the worms and other beneficial creatures, as well as grow plants for us,” he says. Rebecca explains that a little trial and error happened too. “We didn’t always choose the right plants for our environment. We chose some ferns that just did not like the heat and required too much water for us to maintain. We also chose some natives that didn’t survive. Learning to garden means trialling different plants to see what will work for you and there will always be some difficulties and some failures. We just took note of what worked and what didn’t and moved on.”

Sunflowers are included to attract bees ... and for the smiles they bring. Aaron in the composting and worm juiceproducing corner of the garden.


By using organic gardening methods, the yields are always plentiful.

have a few ornamentals and natives, too, but have limited those to hardy species that don’t require a lot of attention and water. They also have a hive of native stingless bees.

ORGANIC APPROACH “Organic gardening is not hard,” Aaron says. “In fact, it’s often easier and cheaper than nonorganic as you are generally not worrying too much about adding fertiliser and, of course, no pesticides etc. Most vegies grow easily without too much intervention, so really it’s not difficult to be an organic gardener.” The couple’s garden comprises flat garden beds built up with good organic soil and regularly topped up with compost and manure. Their focus is mainly on cultivating vegetables and fruit, in particular those things they really like to eat. They


ABUNDANCE OF EDIBLES Their edible forest provides a magnificent bounty: bananas, limes, tangelos, chillies (a few varieties), silver beet, beetroot, eggplant, pumpkin, green beans, snow peas, lettuce, tomatoes, mulberries, basil, papayas, leeks, onions, spring onions, broccoli and cauliflower. The fruit and vegies thrive with the addition of worm juice from their worm farms, seaweed solution, chicken/cow manure and fish emulsion. The family have two medium-sized black compost bins for garden cuttings and some food scraps. They also return a lot of garden and lawn

The Tyndall garden is amazing and the family are rightly proud of it. “We feel we have a good system of planting vegies that works well for us, and at the right time so we get a good yield,” says Rebecca. “Where we live is full of fairly bland front yards with neat lawns and a few ornamental shrubs. Our front yard is overflowing with banana trees, pumpkin vines, sweet potatoes, strawberries and mulberries. Everybody who goes past our house can see what we grow and our house stands out in our street. “Recently, a Pacific Islander man knocked on the front door to ask if he could have some banana leaves for a hangi (barbecue). He told us our banana trees were the best he had seen growing in the area and asked if he could have a banana tree sucker. This made us proud. We want people to notice our garden and to realise they can grow real food in their own gardens easily. We also want to share our plants and produce when we can.”

BREAKING THE MOULD Aaron and Rebecca’s front yard breaks the mould. They want people to see what you can grow in your own yard and try it themselves. They say they’re not afraid to experiment and see what works, although the couple only perseveres with plants that are not too needy of attention and that produce well.

BACKYARD REVOLUTION Raising chooks provides fresh eggs and teaches River’s about caring for animals.

Helped by Rebecca, River loves to hunt for fresh strawberries in the front yard.

“We try to be sustainable in most ways we live our lives,” says Rebecca. “We think about our consumption of goods and try to limit the resources we are using. We try to buy second-hand and recycle our own unwanted items to others. “We have been retrofitting our home to be more sustainable over the past few years. We have water tanks that provide water to the whole house, including drinking water, as well as solar panels and many other features that contribute to a sustainable lifestyle.” They are also connected to mains water to supplement if the tanks run dry. The jewel in the crown, though, is their garden, which is something worth emulating — and they’ve proved it’s a satisfying and easy road to take.


1 2 3 “The two free-ranging chickens are adept at keeping down snails, slugs and curl grubs as well as producing eggs”

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Growing produce in your front yard attracts great interest from neighbours. It creates good communities by starting conversations, trading and giving away excess produce. Great-looking vegetables inspire others to take on their own edible gardening projects. Well-aged leaf and wood mulch is great for vegie gardens as it lasts much longer than straw, is best at reducing evaporation and greatly improves soil quality. Be creative with small yards by maximising space using vertical walls, front yards and verges. Don’t be afraid to change things around in your yard to allow more space for growing. For example, instead of a Hills Hoist taking up room, install a retractable line in a side passage. Allow plants to self-seed as a cost-free way of gaining new seedlings; excess seedlings can be easily removed or given away. Growing unusual fruits and veg can be fun and interesting but it’s best to mainly stick to produce you regularly eat and trade.


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IT’S ONLY NATURAL A unique garden boasting naturalistic plantings and a repurposed shipping container 24 | BACKYARD

DESIGNER GARDENS The conversion of this shipping container shows how simple it is to repurpose objects and materials.


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An alfresco gathering space paved in Anston Ironstone pavers provides a relaxed place to gather.

A cosy spot for reading, drinking a cuppa and simply enjoying the cornucopia of plants all around.


Words: Karen Booth PhotoS: Patrick Redmond his plant-filled show garden amply demonstrated how “leftover” spaces in a city can be transformed into attractive and functional green pockets. Aptly named Left Overs, the Ian Barker Gardens creation featured a converted shipping container that functioned as a popup cafe, which, in a real-world setting, could work as either a temporary or permanent commercial installation or as an unusual outdoor room in a large backyard. The container-cafe opened out onto paved areas, small groups of seating and lawn, all of which were surrounded by a cornucopia of plants to create an inviting place for people to meet and socialise. Left Overs, which won a Silver Show Garden Award at last year’s Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, featured a highly naturalistic perennial planting scheme to show new ways of using plants in an urban context. The goal of the planting, which included Echinacea purpurea ‘Alba’, Helenium ‘Dark Beauty’, Cosmos ‘Chocoholic’, Achillea ‘Terracotta’ and Geum ‘Blazing Sunset’, was to make the garden feel like an urban oasis where people could soak in nature, even if they were in the midst of a bustling and fastpaced city. “With naturalistic perennial planting becoming more popular due to the way it encourages people to make an emotional connection to nature, many home gardeners are beginning to ask, ‘How can we achieve this look in our own backyards?’. This is not surprising as, after all, who wouldn’t


“Don’t overthink your colour choices, simply look to nature. It will tell you what colours work together in harmony” want their own personal oasis to escape the stresses of everyday life?” says Sally Plottel, marketing manager at Ian Barker Gardens. “Naturalistic planting can be adapted for any sized garden, from a large rural property to a suburban backyard — even a small courtyard or balcony. It is not only beautiful to look at, bringing enjoyment and satisfaction as the garden evolves over the seasons, but it is also relatively low maintenance. “There are various systems of planting design that can be employed to achieve the overall effect,” continues Sally, “such as intermingled, matrix and scatter planting. There is also the ‘planting by numbers’ method. For example, in Left Overs, we used a mixture of intermingled, matrix and scatter planting to produce the end result.” And by using a converted shipping container as the shell for the cafe, Ian Barker Gardens showcased how found or unwanted objects and materials can be recycled and integrated into the design of a new space. Creating a new green pocket in a city — or a backyard for that matter — doesn’t have to be about completely transforming a space. It can be

DESIGNER GARDENS This stunning garden is a testament to the power of naturalistic perennial planting as well as recycling.

RIGHT Echinacea purpurea ‘Alba’, with its daisy-like flowers, was one of several perennial plants on show.

about working with what is already there, reintroducing what existed in the past and combining this with new design elements. This garden also demonstrated how a naturalistic perennial planting palette can complement and enhance any style of garden or structure. Explains Sally: “It’s a good idea to start with a key plant that will inspire the rest of the colours in your garden and establish a cohesive palette. In Left Overs, the key plant was Coreopsis ‘Rum Punch’, which starts off yellow in the centre and graduates to burgundy on the outer edges. From there, we chose plants that complemented these colours, with the overall palette becoming warm and autumnal. Don’t overthink your colour choices, simply look to nature. It will tell you what colours work together in harmony.” BACKYARD

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A riot of plants ensures a natural transition between the home and the garden.

HEAVEN ON EARTH For one happy family, this renovated house and garden represents their own slice of heaven 28 | BACKYARD



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Wrapping around the house and courtyard, the pond has a cooling effect.

The roof garden is a treasure trove of interesting drought-tolerant plants.

Words: Karen Booth Photos: Marian Riabic hile there is a certain retro charm to the brick bungalow houses of the 1940s, they’re not really designed for modern living. Today, families want lots of natural light, bigger rooms, an easier flow and an effortless transition from inside to out. Turning this old-style charmer into a contemporary family home was both a challenge and a labour of love for architect — and owner — Sarah Fitzgerald. But it was a task that was made easier with the help of builder Liam Flood of To the Mil and Peter Fudge Gardens who worked collaboratively with Sarah every step of the way. “Ensuring a natural transition from the renovated house to the new garden was of paramount importance,” says garden designer Peter Fudge. “The connections between home and garden needed to be seamless and an inviting entertainment space had to be created.” The main garden is on the north side of the house and in some parts is only 5m wide. “For economy of space, we included an extensive green wall that stands 2.5m high,” says Peter. “Plus, having a green wall in these narrow spaces provides the family with a dramatic ‘green fix’ from inside the house.”



DESIGNER GARDENS Bluestone steppers set in decomposed granite contribute an earthy feel.


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The green wall provides a leafy backdrop and a lush view from the home.

An outdoor shower is now considered essential and this one is a stunner.


The green wall forms the backdrop to the new spotted gum hardwood deck. This is where most of the outdoor entertaining takes place, which is why a slimline barbecue, integrated into a “floating” space-maximising bench, was included. The stainless steel of the barbecue and bench picks up on the steel-framed glass doors and windows that surround the home’s kitchen, eating areas and lounge, creating a sense of unity. “Low lounge furniture, which includes a coffee table that doubles as a fire pit, was chosen for outside so it didn’t compete with the garden and the furniture inside the home. It was important that the view from inside the house be uninterrupted and the furniture took a secondary role,” says Peter. “The plants are a mix of natives, exotics and succulents, chosen to reflect the family’s casual, modern lifestyle,” he continues. “I especially like the columns of Banksia serrata, which provide the garden with a sense of scale and a green canopy over the hardy palette of plants.” Random bluestone steppers lead through the planted areas, which were mulched with decomposed granite. This not only adds to the natural look of the garden, but it also provides a permeable surface that absorbs water and prevents run-off. A pond was introduced as part of the major renovation. It wraps around part of the house and

adds a cooling element. “The pond, bluestone steppers, decomposed granite, plants and green wall form a holistic blend where no single element stands out. The approach is simple, effective and soothing,” says Peter. Other elements of the outdoor reinvention include an open-air shower, rather elegantly integrated into a paling boundary fence, and the creation of a naturalistic yet contemporary roof garden, designed and installed by Ian McMaugh of Budwise Garden Design. “The selection of the plants was influenced by the exposed nature of the roof garden and the fact that each of the four sides has a particular microclimate,” says Ian. The other challenge was the shallowness of the planting medium, which was just 3cm deep in some areas, so the plants that made the final cut were either epiphytic or shallow-rooted, as well as tough. “I especially like the draping effect of the Rhipsalis, which hangs like curtains at the front of the east-facing house. Also, the bold feature plants — aloes and aeoniums — which lend drama to the rear of the house, especially when the aeoniums flower fiery red in the middle of winter,” adds Ian. Front to back, bottom to top, plants play an integral role in framing the impressive, remodelled family home. They passively cool the home, too, and provide pleasing views. Bliss!


“The connections between home and garden needed to be seamless and an inviting entertainment space had to be created”

The spotted gum hardwood deck flows effortlessly from the interior kitchen.


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Tranquil and private, the main entertaining area is at the side of the house.

Simple pleasures The outdoor spaces that wrap around this home make enjoying the coastal climate a breeze BACKYARD

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House and garden were updated in tandem, creating a classic coastal retreat.

Great care was taken to blend the new planting with the established trees.

Words: Karen Booth Photos: Thomas Girschner magine settling back into an Adirondack chair, the warmth of sandstone beneath your feet, a cool coastal breeze on your face and luxuriant garden beds stretching out before you. Sounds like bliss, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but this is a front garden we’re describing, which makes it all the more remarkable. After all, when you feel the need to unwind, the front garden is not usually the first place that comes to mind. As this house has no rear garden, all the outdoor living is done in the front and side gardens. This worked well, though, for Brandon Wallis of SiteDesign + Studios Landscape Architects. As these gardens face east and north, they collect all the sun, which made it possible to create lush, leafy environs for the outdoor-loving owners. Brandon’s design is very relaxed and fits hand in glove with the remodelled timber-clad house, which is not all that surprising when you consider that SiteDesign was also responsible for the home renovation. For simplicity, Brandon kept the palette to three main colours: a warm white for the cladding, a light warm grey for the fences and masonry areas on the house, and a darker grey for highlighted areas, such as the front door and blade walls. “A well-designed landscape should run off the house and not try to overburden it,” says Brandon. “The feel and style of the house should be reflected in the landscape, which is why we brought stone into the design of the garden.” As the property is in the Sydney beach suburb of Cronulla, sandstone was used as a recurring element, adding to the garden’s sense of place. Well-designed gardens tend to have an artistic aspect to them. Here, the curved sandstone walls in the front garden contribute a sculptural element. “There is a certain artistry to the walls, which



Potted succulents add textural interest to a garden and survive on almost no water.


The sandstone used for the garden walling references the coastal location.


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ABOVE Acapulco chairs in pristine white sit in contrast to the greenery behind. LEFT This hanging pot draws the eye up, which is important in smaller spaces.

were built using stone salvaged from other jobs,” explains Brandon. “The walls bend and follow the topography. The best landscape designs are the ones that have areas of different heights and levels, and we have achieved that here.” One of the challenges SiteDesign faced was blending the new with the old. A key part of that was retaining the existing trees (callistemon, lilly pilly, melaleuca) to ensure the garden maintained its established feel. When choosing the new plants, there was much to consider. Some parts of the garden are in full sun all day, others in full shade, while others are in a mix of both. The new plants needed to work with the look of the house and require only as much maintenance as the owners were prepared to undertake. “A garden is not a snap shop. It’s a living, breathing, evolving being so will always need some amount of ongoing care and attention,” says Brandon. “This garden has areas of ‘beachy’ plantings, like the greys of the Westringia fruticosa and Senecio in the full-sun areas. Then there are the areas of full shade where we used plants such as Colocasia and Alpinia calcarata, which gives a more tropical modern feel,” he adds. “But the planting wasn’t based on themes. It was all about planting for a particular space.” The courtyard at the side of the house is where the family does most of its entertaining. The existing red-brick boundary walls were rendered and painted and raised garden beds created, using the same sandstone that features in the front garden. The area outside the main bedroom was also updated, with the addition of a sandstone-wrapped, spotted gum deck that is being allowed to grey over time, further tying in the garden with its coastal locale. The family now has a series of relaxed spaces that enable them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, mainly, time spent outdoors enjoying the clement coastal climate.


A grouping of hardy potted plants dresses up the weathered timber side deck.


“A garden is not a snap shop. It’s a living, breathing, evolving being so will always need some amount of ongoing care and attention”


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Garden designer Lisa Ellis has skilfully used old fashioned plants in a bold new way.

Red, white & blue A simple colour scheme and lush plants prove the perfect match for a stately Victorian home




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The Ficus pumila covered the cement retainer walls in less than 12 months

Words: Karen Booth Photos: Patrick Redmond old and elegant with strong seasonal interest, this Melbourne garden is not just a pleasure to spend time in, it is the perfect frame for the extensively renovated Victorian residence. Designed by Lisa Ellis Gardens and dubbed the “Red, White and Blue” garden, it places a strong emphasis on the softening effect of plants, which is just what the distinctive two-storey dwelling needed and precisely what the owners, a professional couple with two teenage daughters and a cat, wanted. “They were keen on using old-fashioned plants but in a daring manner, and they wanted a sophisticated garden,” explains Lisa Ellis. “As the house is imposing, creating a garden that will, in time, bring the right scale to balance out the house was just as important.” When planning the garden, Lisa looked for ways to retain some of the existing plants. Sadly, given the fall of the land and the need to create a series of sizeable retainer walls, some significant trees and plants had to be removed. This, however, made possible the introduction of new plants which have shown impressive growth since they were installed in November 2013. “Major soil amelioration and the sourcing of high-quality plant stock was key to the planting success,” says Lisa. “The soil contained a great deal of heavy clay so almost 30 cubic metres of premium organic compost was worked through the garden, back and front, along with an enormous amount of clay breaker.” The planting scheme incorporates deep garden beds and different planting zones in a colour palette of green, white, blue and red. “Reducing the number of colours utilised in the landscape is a great way of calming down the space, as is



“Reducing the number of colours utilised in the landscape is a great way of calming down the space, as is using the same tree species en masse”

ABOVE A red Fermob bench sits on the front verandah, acting as a bold, playful element.


Woven furniture and a teak setting are surrounded by the generous planting.


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In the rear garden, the plants provide splashes of vivid red and vibrant pink.

ABOVE A bluestone stepping-stone path leads through a lush carpet of flourishing green ground covers.

using the same tree species en masse. In the front garden, for example, there are five white flowering forms of crepe myrtle. In the rear, a planting of Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ on the upper and ground levels provides a lovely depth of field. The front planting has a blue and white colour palette and features some “oldies but goodies”. Among others, there’s Ceonanthus ‘Trewithen Blue’, Ceratostigma willmottianum, Ajuga reptans ‘Caitlin’s Giant’, Geranium ‘Roxanne’, Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ and the sweet-smelling Sarcococca confusa and Osmanthus fortunei. Bold splashes of red feature in the rear garden: red-foliaged ‘Forest Pansy’ trees, crimson Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandorf’ and red-flowering Camellia reticulata, planted as a boundary screen. “For the paved areas, bluestone seemed like the right material to use for this gracious old residence. The material brings a significant gravitas to a landscape and seems to work perfectly in Melbourne,” says Lisa. “The added benefit of bluestone is that greenery tends to be amplified by it. This bodes well for a garden where the planting itself is key to the landscape.” The bluestone features in the rear garden, the front path, the verandah and the rectangular stepper paths linking different zones. The latter pick their way through a thick carpet of greenery created by ground-cover plantings of Viola hederacea and Dichondra repens. And a final word from Lisa? “It’s a great idea to have a theme or a focus so that certain elements are amplified to create cohesion and a strong sense of place. Keeping things simple and endeavouring to use plants where they have room to express themselves is also important.” These principles have all been put into play here, and to exquisite effect.


Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a feature of the planting in the backyard.


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Softening the look, Trachelospermum jasminoides grows along the boundary wall.



NOW AND THEN Blending the old with the new, this garden has an up-to-date look yet an established feel Words: Karen Booth Photos: Emma Perry he passage of time tells on us all. Our “bones” might remain solid but our exterior surfaces … well, a little freshening up rarely goes amiss. When Jane Jones Landscapes was called in, an established garden already surrounded the Victorian house. The rear garden had a swimming pool and deck. It also had a selection of mature trees, as did the entry garden.


“The brief put forward by the owner was to give the garden an overall facelift. Some areas were tired and clearly in need of rejuvenation, while the existing rear garden needed softening from the abundant minimalistic hard surfaces,” explains designer Jane Jones. “The owner desired more plantings, interesting garden features of greater depth and complexity, and a small herb and vegetable garden. “Additionally, the existing driveway was in need of replacement and a new pedestrian BACKYARD

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The designer’s goal was to entice the family outside to enjoy their deck and pool.

ABOVE Succulents were planted in hanging baskets to fill a void and add textural interest.

Timber planter boxes, some filled with edibles, surround the pool and deck.


entrance to the front door required, both creating a beautiful vista through the garden to the facade of the house.” Jane’s new soft scaping design has a contemporary feel while still containing plenty of old-fashioned favourites. In the rear garden, there are two arbours, each with a different plant growing up and along them. There is Wisteria sinensis for spring flowering and Trachelospermum jasminoides for summer. “Feature pots and timber planter boxes surround the pool and hard surface areas,” adds Jane. “The pots hold both evergreen and deciduous plants. Planter boxes contain Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, whose bronze foliage not only adds colour but helps to tie these elements together. “Large baskets featuring an interesting assortment of succulents were hung outside the kitchen window, filling an external void and bringing both outdoor and indoor environments together. Succulents are a great choice for use in hanging baskets as they require little water and are low maintenance.” In the front garden, the rejuvenated driveway has an exposed aggregate surface, the new entrance path is bluestone, while both side paths are Dromana toppings. “This creates a more permeable surface and a rustic aesthetic suited to the owner’s personal taste,” says Jane. Jane introduced an avenue of Acer plataniodes ‘Crimson Sentry’ against the house, a plant with bronze foliage that complements the red brick. Either side of the drive is planted with Clivia, its dark-green foliage lending weight to the architecture of the home. It’s also worth noting that all of Jane’s new plantings are hardy and don’t require copious amounts of water. In rejuvenating this garden, Jane brought her usual design philosophy to bear, which is “to establish unique gardens that invite people to enjoy their outdoor spaces”. “Our garden designs focus on the texture and foliage of varying plant combinations, all set within a structural layout,” she adds. “This is an approach that creates balance between architecture and nature.”

DESIGNER GARDENS Permeable Dromana toppings give the new front and side paths a softer look.

Jane Jones paid keen attention to the texture and foliage of her plant combinations.

“Our garden designs focus on the texture and foliage of varying plant combinations within a structural layout … this creates balance between architecture and nature”


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The two main terraces are linked by a path comprised of sandstone stepping stones.

HIDDEN TREASURE A secluded garden hideaway provides a place of escape from the bustle of a busy city




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When choosing plants, ensuring they were suited to the location was paramount.

Achieving an easy flow between the various levels was at the top of Michael Bate’s list.

“Blending the garden into the larger landscape was elemental, as was creating a seamless flow of levels and materials” Words: Karen Booth Photos: jason busch ome to landscaper Michael Bates and his large blended family, Albert House is a rare find: a peaceful, country housestyle retreat just a few minutes from the madness of the Sydney CBD. Built a century ago using convict-hewn sandstone salvaged from one of North Sydney’s earliest pubs, the original Albert Hotel, the house is embraced by a terraced garden that teems with plant life. This is a garden designed to be admired from various vantage points and one that offers several outdoor dining spaces … even a hangout just for the teenagers. The North Sydney street upon which Albert House sits had been gazetted to become a road. As this road failed to materialise, the Georgian-style house was able to retain its private location and secret hideaway feel, which Michael’s design has only enhanced. Michael’s approach was informed by a movement known as



the Sydney School of Garden Design. This meant that establishing a relationship between inside and outside spaces was important, although, for Michael, other priorities proved even more compelling. “For me, blending the garden into the larger landscape was elemental, as was creating a seamless flow of levels and materials. To create a garden that can be admired at the ground level and from the balconies above was equally essential, as was creating distinct yet linked outdoor spaces,” he says. Michael makes no secret of his “healthy disregard for the old-school planting styles”, instead preferring to play with inter-planting and foliage textures. This approach has led to a series of terraces overflowing with plants. “Natives are mixed with exotics, subtropicals, sub-temperates, succulents … you name it,” says Michael. “The rules are there are no rules, except that plants need to be placed in conditions where they will flourish, and where they have a harmonious

When the family dines alfresco, they are surrounded by the abundant planting.



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“Life is injected into the garden with moving water, firepits, kids and dogs. Every outdoor space is activated and all the elements work together to set the garden in motion� 54 | BACKYARD


ABOVE The verandah provides respite for all members of the extended family. OPPOSITE TOP Sandstone was used for the paving, referencing the Sydney location. OPPOSITE MIDDLE The pond features sandstone coping and a fountain. OPPOSITE BOTTOM Adding to the fullness of the garden, there is fragrant Brugmansia.

relationship with the surrounding plants. It’s all about the arrangement and the composition.” “Abundance” is the word that comes to mind when you contemplate Michael’s mixed planting scheme, which, as he puts it, features “a riot of plants from around the globe”. At the back of the garden, the imposing sandstone cliff is draped in two hardy, sculptural succulents (agave and aloe). The garden is also blessed with Brugmansia — a plant prized for its large, pendulous, fragrant blooms — a sea of Ctenanthe and advanced camellias, some of which have been used to provide privacy screening to the main living level. There are several places where the family can relax or entertain, including two sandstone

terraces that are connected via sandstone stepping stones that seemingly float over a sea of ferns. “Sandstone is the indigenous material of the site and covers surfaces both horizontal and vertical throughout the garden. It’s also durable and is inherently Sydney,” says Michael. At the front of the house, there is a masonry pond with an overflowing urn-shaped fountain. The pond features curved sandstone coping, which ties it in with the nearby sandstone verandah and gives it a timeless character. This is a garden that was created to be used, not just admired. It is meant to feel “alive”, not staid like some gardens that grace period homes. As Michael says, “Life is injected into the garden with moving water, firepits, kids and dogs. Every

outdoor space is activated and all the elements work together to set the garden in motion.” While the property’s “remote” location is one of its most prized characteristics, it proved something of a trial for the Bates Landscape team. “It posed a big access challenge during the construction phase of the garden,” recalls Michael. “Every single material had to be delivered on foot and the landscape team needed to be doubled in size to simply get things in and out of the site.” It was all worth it, though, as the end result is a garden of effortless elegance that reads as one with the architecture. It is respectful, exuberant and, most importantly, loved by the family who call it home. BACKYARD

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NATURAL ATTRACTION Inspired by nature, this Japanese garden entices you to take a journey of discovery Words: Karen Booth Photos: Peter Brennan ne of the most revered styles of Japanese design is the traditional hill-and-pond garden. A semi-formal style that is often repeated in the West, it typically features an artificial (though utterly natural-looking) hill, a pond and waterfall, an arched bridge and stone pathways. Just such a garden can be found in the Sydney suburb of Longueville. Designed by Ken Lamb, managing director of Imperial Gardens, this is a garden that, in best Japanese tradition, doesn’t show itself all at once. From the uppermost part of the garden, granite steps lead down towards the covered patio that



wraps around the house. As you make this journey, many wonders are revealed: a large koi pond, a waterfall and a meticulously landscaped mounded (hill) garden. For Ken, the waterfall, above which hovers a shaped Pinus thunbergii (more commonly known as Japanese black pine) is the most striking feature of the garden. The waterfall spills into the rock-ringed pond that is filled with healthy, happy koi. “The koi symbolise life and movement and add colour and constantly altering patterns,” says Ken. “A garden should be a sanctuary for the owners and offer ever-changing delights,” he adds. “Another way to achieve this is to have trees and shrubs that flower at different times through the year.

DESIGNER GARDENS Detail matters, including the hand-finished granite steps with cobblestone inserts.


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The trees and shrubs were chosen for their varied seasonal displays.

“The winding granite path and steps lead visitors to different views of the garden”

The pond has biological filters to maintain water clarity for the many carp.

The sound of the cascading water has a soothing effect and muffles street noise.


Sandstone rocks were used to create a staggered cliff with a mesmerising waterfall.

“Each tree has its own unique beauty,” says Ken. “There is the Japanese black pine with its bonsai styling, Juniperus chinensis ‘Kaizuka’ and cloud-pruned Raphiolepis indica. Then there is Buxus microphylla var. japonica along with camellias, azaleas and cycads, all layered to create the appearance of a distant mountain.” New soil, mulch and irrigation created ideal planting conditions and, while the plants are indeed flourishing, they do need regular maintenance. The property owner happily takes care of all the general upkeep, except for specialist pruning and shaping, which Ken carries out. Of course, a lot of behind-the-scenes work went into creating such a natural-looking end result. Imperial Gardens Landscape drew on its considerable expertise to manoeuvre the mossy sandstone bush rocks (each weighing up to halfa-tonne) into position in order to retain the hill garden above the pond. The construction of the pond required similar skill. “It was entirely excavated out of sandstone bedrock, and drainage as well as waterproofing proved an engineering challenge,” recalls Ken. “Having excavated the pond, the EPDM rubber liner used to waterproof it had to be protected with concrete pads before the rocks, granite and bridge were installed.” Although not especially large, the garden has a great deal to offer. As Ken says, “The winding granite path and steps lead visitors to different views of the garden, while the waterfall and pond help create a wonderful symphony of sounds and rippled reflections.”

The steps lead you through the hill garden and past myriad planting delights.



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When designing a deck, consider a differently coloured section to define a living zone. Photo courtesy of Trex.

For added value,

ADD A DECK A well-built deck will boost the value of your home and bring your family years of pleasure Words: Carrol Baker smart and well-designed deck takes relaxed outdoor living at home to a whole new level. Decks can extend living areas, create outdoor rooms and transform an uninspiring outdoor space into a showstopper. Whether you plan on building it yourself, or getting the experts on board to do the job, a little bit of know-how will go a long way towards creating your dream deck. It starts with gaining a practical understanding of the basics of what sets one deck apart from another, including material choice, orientation, inclusions and shape.


WHAT’S YOUR VISION? Decks can be as unique and as individual as you are. You can go retro with slabs of reclaimed timber or create a beachy, coastal, weatherworn look with timber naturally aged to a blue-grey hue. For a fresh, contemporary feel, the uniform clean-cut lines of composite or aluminium decking are popular as is ecofriendly bamboo.


Builder Phill Hutt from Decks by Design, found a niche market in decking a decade ago, and says, of late, there have been massive and exciting changes in the industry. “Typically, here in Australia, decks were fairly structured. Now, North America has set the stage on many of the new designs with curved and multilevel decks, for example,” he says. “No longer are they just 3m x 5m platforms off the back of the house, they’re stepped and shaped, and contain outdoor rooms.”

THE SHAPE OF THINGS There are primarily three different types of decks: low-level, elevated and multilevel. These decks can be either attached to the home, which can extend your living space, or free-standing and separate to the house. Free-standing decks are often used around swimming pools or to create a separate entertaining space away from the main living areas of the home. Low-level: These are built slightly above or on ground. If less than 1m, they don’t require

balustrading. Suitable for smaller spaces, the front of the home and DIYers. Elevated: These require multiple steps and balustrading. Suitable for extending and opening up the living space of multi-storey homes. Multilevel: A series of decks connected by stairs or walkways that can follow the land contours is becoming a popular choice. Suitable for sloped sites and decks with separate “rooms”, for example, a lounge area, dining area or a conversation space with a firepit.

DECK PLACEMENT Position and size are two key deck planning components. For rear decks, access to stairs,

SAFETY FIRST When building a deck, ensuring structural integrity is crucial. Brian Seidler of the Master Builders Association NSW, says a deck should be “fit for purpose”. “If a deck isn’t designed properly to take the weight of the number of people on it, it could potentially be catastrophic,” he says. Other additions, such as pots, statues, water features, pizza ovens etc also add to the load. Brian suggests consulting with a structural engineer if you’re considering a DIY project or, if not, use a licensed, insured builder.


DECKING LINGO • Bearer: Large timber beams that are supported by walls or posts. • Joists: Horizontal framing pieces supported on or by bearers. • Member: Structure such as a beam or column. • Ledger: Member that supports the deck and attaches it (and its subsequent weight) to the house frame and foundations. • Balustrade: Usually has a handrail and infill. It’s typically constructed from timber, metal or glass. Often mandatory in decks higher than 1m.

With timber decking you need to use first-class wood stains and finishes. Photo courtesy of Sikkens and To The Mil.


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Be creative. Here, a pop-up daybed has been integrated into the deck. Photo courtesy of Trex.

The right equipment makes for an easier job. Pictured, the Bosch cordless two-speed drill driver.

Using raised planters adds definition and creates a room-like feel. Photo courtesy of TimberTech. Purpose-designed tools are best, such as Sikkens' EZEE Deck Brush for coating timber decks.

doorways and kitchens usually determine location. For front decks, proximity to the front door is the main location consideration. In cooler climates, position the deck where you can capture afternoon sunshine. In warmer, more temperate climates, choose an area where there’s shade. Other considerations are maximising views, wind (avoid high-wind areas) and the slope of the backyard.

TRADITIONAL TIMBER Australian hardwood timber such as ironbark or tallowwood are considered among the strongest of decking materials. Imported timbers including merbau from Asia-Pacific countries are also popular. Phill says, however, that some imported hardwoods don’t perform as well as Australian hardwoods. “They’re now a similar price, but the quality isn’t the same.” Timbers are graded on their durability. The higher the rating, the more durable they are.


Ironbark and tallowwood are class 1, merbau is class 2, and softwoods such as radiata pine are class 4. To protect timber decks, coat in semitransparent acrylics, stain and re-oil every six to 12 months. For example, for decking around a swimming pool, Phill suggests using durability class 1 hardwood, or a composite with very low water take-up. In high-traffic areas, durability class 1 hardwood will withstand lots of wear and tear, and around a barbecue, use an acrylic-based stain or finish so grease stains won’t penetrate.

ALTERNATIVE MATERIALS Composite decking is a modern innovation. It’s made from recycled wood fibres and other additives and is low maintenance and durable, with a consistent-looking grain. For composite, Phill’s advice is to source a product that has a 25-year warranty and protective coating, so it won’t scratch or fade.

There’s also eco-friendly bamboo, which is available in a varied range of styles and finishes. As a manufactured product, bamboo can be sourced in long, straight lengths. Aluminium decking is another option and is low maintenance, can resemble the look of timber and some styles have waterproof and slipresistant benefits. Unlike timber decking, these other products don’t require oiling or staining.

PROPER SEASONING One of the keys to a professional-looking timber deck is a well-prepared surface. “The timber must be well seasoned, free from natural extractives (tannin) and clean,” says Tim Orbell from Tenaru Timber & Finishes. “Seasoning is a natural weathering process, taking three to six months, during which the new timber releases its natural extractives, which appear as a dark-coloured run-off. Proper seasoning is particularly important for oily, tanninrich timbers such as merbau.” Coating unseasoned timber results in the premature breakdown of the applied coating and, in a short period of time, will leave discolouration and staining under the coated surface. “If you need to complete the deck in a shorter timeframe, a tannin and oil remover can be applied first. This will extract the majority of tannins in a matter of minutes,” adds Tim.

CleverDeck Composite Decking & EnviroSlat Screen Fencing CleverDeck is an environmentally sustainable, high-quality, solid wood composite decking supplied in a 138mm x 23mm x 5400mm size board and 5 designer colours; Chocolate, Mahogany, Slate Grey, Saltbrush and Walnut. Each board is double-sided with an indented wood grain pattern. An Ecoboard is also available in an 86mm x 23mm x 5400mm size in a rough sanded finish Mahogany colour without the grain indentation. CleverDeck is low maintenance, termite, rot and slip resistant and has achieved an R11 slip resistance rating as tested by the CSIRO. CleverDeck composite decking is made from recycled HDPE, hard wood flour and rice husk/hulls. The decking is very easy to fix using the NewTech concealed fix black PP clips complete with blackened stainless steel screws for fixing to either steel or timber joists. Deck installation time can be reduced by up to 65% when using the NewTech deck clip system. CleverDeck also offers a DIY wood composite deck tile in the size 300mm x 300mm and this provides the ideal option for beautifying existing concrete balconies or patios. CleverDeck WPC decking can be supplied in pack lots or job lots across Australia.

The EnviroSlat range of fencing boards offer the same low maintenance and environmental sustainability as the CleverDeck decking. Available in a standard 70mm x 15mm x 5400mm board in the same finish and colour as the CleverDeck 138mm decking, EnviroSlat makes the perfect horizontal screen fence when fixed to our extra thick (2.5mm) satin black powder coated aluminium fence posts. Other decorative profiles like the 40mm x 30mm and 60mm x 40mm battens are proving popular as these profiles can dress up and add interest to a wall or faรงade. Our new 156mm weatherproof cladding is also generating interest as a very cost effective alternative to traditional weatherboards; mounted with a concealed fix in a vertical or horizontal orientation. Ph: 1300 484 308 | Email:


Matching handrails is an important part of deck design. Photo courtesy of Trex.

Why not go all out and create a full-on entertaining area? Photo courtesy of Trex.

To make decks navigable at night, you can include perimeter and step lighting.

In-built seating maximises space and is great for kids. Photo courtesy of TimberTech.

Depending on what your deck will be used for and in which environment you live, certain decking materials and finishes are better suited than others.



Modern decks can be tailored with design features such as balustrades, curved steps, inbuilt planters, pergolas or screening. They can even be built around natural features. And that is just the beginning. Builder Glen Carter from Just Decks says individualising a deck is easy. “Inbuilt inclusions can look stunning and really make a deck ‘pop’,” he says. Here are some ideas: Picture framing: Using a different type or size of timber (or decking board) around the perimeter gives it a unique and stylish look. Daybeds: An inbuilt daybed just needs the additon of a few comfy cushions to turn it into a space for soaking up the sun in style. Barbecue enclosures: Framing around a barbecue can give it a clean finish; add timber doors for a bespoke inbuilt cabinet. Planters: Inbuilt planters, which form part of the deck, bring nature to your doorstep. Benches: Need extra chairs for guests or somewhere to tuck away soft furnishings when not in use? Inbuilt deck benches provide seating, storage and can segregate spaces.

Some deck building projects require permits, approvals or development applications; this will vary from project to project and council to council. Brian Seidler, executive director of Master Builders Association NSW, says before you hammer in that first nail, it’s important to do your homework regarding council laws and permits. “You don’t want to build too close to your neighbour, for example,” he says. “It certainly pays to check, as having to rework your deck could be frustrating, and costly.”


TIME FOR THE EXPERTS? You can go completely DIY, get a helping hand with some of the process or hand over the lot to the professionals. One of the most popular styles for DIYers is low-level attached decks. “These are relatively simple and straightforward to build, and can make a great father-and-son project, or one to work on with a few mates,” says Phill. If you’re a little unsure, it’s also possible to get help with some aspects of the project. “We’ll often sort the development application and logistics side of the project — the design,

paperwork and plans,” says Phill. “Then we can hand over to the homeowner to build.” If you are engaging a builder, you can source professionals through the Master Builders Association or seek independent testimonials from friends and workmates. Brian also suggests sourcing at least three written quotes based on the size, style and materials you have in mind. A deck is an investment so you need to get it right.

TROUBLESHOOTING Clearance: Decks needs to be at least 300mm off the ground, cautions Phill Hutt from Decks by Design. And, he adds, “The lower you are to the ground, the bigger the gaps need to be between the decking boards. You need ventilation in and around decks to prevent rot. This is the main enemy of decks, not white ants.” Faulty attachment: One of the most crucial errors that non-licenced builders make is not correctly attaching the deck to the home. “We are finding a lot of failings caused by incorrect bolting of the ledger (the beam that connects the deck to the house) so it becomes a weak point, which can cause the deck to fail under stress,” says Phill.

Get creative. These circular vertical gardens were designed by VertiScape.

UP THE WALL Short on outdoor space? Don’t be driven up the wall — install a luxuriant vertical garden instead

This lush vertical garden from Fytogreen sits on the wall like a framed print.

Words: Karen Booth reen walls and vertical gardens offer a host of benefits. For starters, they allow you to introduce plant life into small spaces — if you don’t have room for a ground-level garden, you can attach a garden to your courtyard wall or the exterior of your house. They reduce the ambient temperature in their immediate surrounds, clean the air and encourage biodiversity, making them an eco-friendly option. “With more than 50 per cent of us now living in cities worldwide (the percentage is even higher in Australia), our metropolitan areas are becoming more crowded and our gardens ever smaller,” says Karen Sutherland, horticulturalist, garden designer and founder of Edible Eden Design. “More of us are living in apartments and townhouses and may only have the tiniest of spaces to grow a garden. Naturally, the idea of gardening on walls and roofs has become popular, as we look for somewhere to grow plants to brighten our lives and spice up our dinner plates.”


EDIBLE OR ORNAMENTAL A vertical garden lends itself to many uses and the plants you choose will depend on whether the green wall is to be ornamental or edible. At a more fundamental level, plant selection will be influenced by the amount of natural light the location receives, the microclimate and the


plant’s inherent ability to thrive off the ground. “Wall gardens have the advantage of keeping plant roots warmer in cold winters so if you’re planning on growing herbs or salad vegetables, you can grow your basil for longer in autumn, for instance. Wall gardens are also a great way to keep invasive plants such as mints under control,” says Karen. “An edible wall garden is also in keeping with permaculture practices, which say you should grow your food close to your kitchen, within easy reach,” she adds. “Wall gardens that can be hung or installed close to a kitchen door are perfect for this purpose and offer easy harvesting. "Wall gardens don’t have to be filled with edible plants, of course. They can include succulents, bromeliads, tropical foliage plants or flowering species.”

PLANTING SUGGESTIONS If you like the idea of a kitchen garden, hardy herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary are perfect, particularly for up the top of your green wall, as they don’t need as much water as other varieties. Golden marjoram, tarragon and chives are other reliable options. With a living wall made of herbs, you also get the bonus of the amazing scent they exude. You might also want to try growing some fresh salad ingredients. Cherry tomatoes are ideal as are spring onions and heat-tolerant lettuces. For dessert, grow some strawberries.

BACKYARD ESSENTIALS This Peta Donaldson-designed outdoor room features a trio of Vertigro green walls.

A Fytogreen vertical garden is the focal point of this design by David Franklin.


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The PAPS Vertical Gardens' system is easy to use. You just hang pots on a frame.

MAKE YOUR OWN Would you like to build an edible vertical garden using recyclable materials? You will need chicken wire, a hessian bag, reusable plastic cable ties, some homemade planting mix and a sturdy bamboo stick you can thread through the top of the hessian bag for ease of hanging. The next steps are: Planting mix • Your planting mix needs to hold extra moisture and the magic ingredient is fine-grade coir. Coir is light and both holds and wicks moisture well (that is, it helps water rise up from the bottom of the mix). • Coir is sold in a compressed brick, which needs soaking in water for 15 minutes or so. Afterwards, use fresh water to wash the coir in a clean plastic plant pot. Wash until the water is clear. • Make your planting mix with 30–60 per cent coir, the rest being a good potting mix. Add 10 per cent well-rotted cow manure to feed plants slowly. To buffer residual saltiness in the coir, add a handful of gypsum to every 10L bucket of homemade mix. The pot pouch Fill the hessian bag with the planting mix, leaving room at the top to close the top down with string or zip ties. (If attaching to a timber fence, insert a sheet of builder’s plastic backing before adding the planting mix.) Place the “pouch” onto a piece of chicken wire and fold the chicken wire over and around it like a parcel, securing the chicken wire at the back with wire or cable ties. The planting is done on the “clear” side, away from the ties and black plastic of the back. Using wire cutters, snip some sections of chicken wire and open them up to expose potential planting spaces. Push the sharp ends of the chicken wire back into the pouch to avoid scratches. Use a sharp craft knife to cut a cross in the exposed hessian to access the planting media. Fold the flaps of hessian back around the plants after planting. Planting out Plant out with seedlings or plants in 50–75mm pots. Scoop out some planting mix to make room for the plant roots and top up to ensure no air gaps around roots. Water-holding gel around the roots will help stop plants from drying out. After planting, water well and place in the shade for a day and leave horizontal for a week or two to give the plants a chance to establish their root systems. Your wall garden can then be hung in place. Water gently every day or so, depending on the weather, and water weekly with diluted seaweed or fish emulsion fertiliser to boost your plants. The above instructions were supplied by Karen Sutherland, founder of Edible Eden Design. Karen runs workshops on everything from creating sustainable green walls to growing bush herbs in the city and no-dig gardening. For more information on classes or to read Karen's blog, visit


“If you like the idea of a kitchen garden, hardy herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary are perfect ... as they don’t need as much water as other varieties” For a decorative effect, succulents such as echeveria, sedum and crassula can look stunning. Liriope and small hebe varieties can work well also, depending on your local environment. Plants with water-holding stems and leaves, such as pelargonium, begonia, peperomia and columnea, are a good idea if you’re not big on maintenance or live in a dry climate. Plants with water-holding roots such as mondo grass and philodendron work brilliantly in this way as well.

DIY OR READYMADE Several companies specialise in the installation, planting and maintenance of green walls, such as Deep Green. “Using a specialised lightweight growing media, automated direct irrigation methods and a palette of species specifically selected to be hardy and aesthetically pleasing, we design and install custom-made vertical gardens,” says Deep Green company owner, Steve Winsor. “Because it is more hydroponic than other systems, it requires only very small amounts of organic-fibre growing media, making it a lightweight system,” explains Stewart. “It is also slimline and, for ease of care, we install an inline liquid fertiliser delivery unit.” There are plenty of companies offering DIY systems, such as PAPS Vertical Gardens. This system uses a slimline, powder-coated frame (free-standing or wall-mounted) and hook-on pots. The frame holds 18 pots and can be fitted with a top-down drip irrigation system. If you want something small, there are readyto-hang fabric systems, such as Woolly Pockets and Verti-plant. Of course, these are just a few examples of the diverse array of vertical garden systems available.

EXPERT ADVICE Like a ground-level garden, a vertical garden needs maintenance. In fact, it needs more and it probably needs expert care unless you are a dedicated gardener or a quick and willing learner. A small vertical garden, just a few pots on a wall or a simple fabric system, won’t take much more care than a hanging plant but large green walls can be complex creations in need of a lot of nurturing. It’s not just the “after” you are likely to need expert help with. If the plan is to establish a sizeable green wall on an

A NATURAL INSULATOR “A bare, sun-exposed wall covered in plants will no longer reradiate unpleasant heat into your house or apartment, and the combined effect of plants and moist growing medium will provide valuable insulation. Hard surfaces bounce noise about especially in busy cities, so installing a sound-absorbing vertical garden can add to a more peaceful life,” says Catherine Stewart, editor of award-winning gardening blog GardenDrum. “Plant leaves also trap airborne dust particles, absorb pollutants and increase local humidity, as well as creating habitat for beneficial insects. And surrounding yourself with lush plants is well documented to give you a mood boost. “If you’re clever with your plant choices, your vertical garden can also become a piece of green art — plant sweeping curves or geometric designs of colour, foliage and form contrasts. In a warm, sunny spot, you can use the unusual shapes of a variety of low-maintenance succulents to form dots and stars, so your vertical garden becomes attractive, abstract art.” To learn more about green walls along with myriad other gardening and design topics, visit

PAPS Vertical Gardens As easy as

12 3

Available at all leading nurseries. Trade enquiries welcome.

Step 1:

Place frame on wall in desired location & mark holes on wall.

Mobile Frame - $320

1600mm (h) x 630mm (w) x 300mm (d)

Add nature to any space. Irrigate from top with simple drip irrigation to bottom tank. Great for balconies, courtyards and rental properties.

Step 2:

Drill holes & attach frame.

Step 3:

Insert plants and hang pots on wall or free standing frame. Hook ok potted plants onto frame, for an n instant ‘wow’ factor in your home. e.

Includes: tank pump & self irrigation system.

Vertical Pot - $10

200mm (h) x 200mm (w) x 200mm (d)

Pots simply hook on and o mesh, reo or rails. Can be purchased separately. The design and size of the pots enables plants to grow to their full potential. 10 pots $99.95.

Address: Vertical Garden Display & Garden Centre 612 Glen Huntly Rd Caulfield South Vic 3162 Phone: 03 9523 7369

Mobile: Email:

0499 990 132 Buy Online Website:

Wall Mount

- $89

1250mm (h) x 635mm (w)

Create a garden masterpiece on any wall. Frame holds 18 pots.


RIGHT With Woolly Pockets’ living wall planters you can transform your garden shed. BELOW The shape of this vertical garden by Candeo Design makes it a work of art.

apartment balcony, a deck or a terrace, there are practicalities to consider. Is your wall and floor able to bear the load (add water to plants and growing media and things can get heavy), is the wall and floor waterproofed, where will any water overflow go, if you’re using irrigation technology you will need electricity so is there a power point nearby, or can one be installed? Whichever approach you choose, though, vertical gardening is a great space saver and a smart way of introducing both edible and ornamental plants into an outdoor space.

EASY DOES IT Verti-plant from Burgon & Ball is a fabric vertical planter you attach to a garden wall or fence. Each planter has three pockets and takes six plants. Drainage holes in the top two pockets help to water the plants in the bottom row. It won’t last forever but it’s an easy way to introduce some colour … and get the kids interested in gardening.


Step 1 Find a structurally sound wall, drill the required holes and screw the planter into position.



Step 3 Add the plants. Flowering annuals are a good idea if you want to add seasonal colour.


ARTISTRY OF PLANTS The shape of a green wall can be whatever you like (such as the sculptural creation pictured above) but if you want to create a wall that doubles as a living artwork, composition is key to creating and maintaining texture and visual interest. “A green wall for me is about the visual display of the plants,” says Patrick Belford, garden designer for Inner City Nature. “The integration of the movement of colour, texture and form and how it moves throughout the composition is a make or break in how well it will be received. If the plant material creates drifts of pattern and texture through the wall, the eye will be excited and soothed and this will create a more positive experience for the viewer and the surrounding environment.”


Step 2 Add terracotta and tub potting mix into which you have sprinkled some controlled-release fertiliser.

Step 4 Water the planter from the top. A watering can will give you greater control over water flow.

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Filetti is a traditional, rustic-looking stone paving format. Pictured here, porphyry Filetti from Eco Outdoor.

ON SOLID FOOTING If you’re planning a new area of paving, these expert tips will set you on the right path Words: Carrol Baker utdoor spaces are made up of two elements: soft and hard landscaping. Soft landscaping features include flowers, foliage, trees and grassy lawns, all of which offer vibrancy and life. In contrast, hard landscaping is about functionality, for example driveways, retaining walls, pathways and alfresco flooring. Paving is the hard landscaping material of choice for DIYers and industry professionals for many reasons. Paving products can be beautiful, affordable, hardwearing and are offered in a myriad of colours, sizes, textures and, of course, finishes.


PLANNING YOUR PROJECT Whether you’re planning a small DIY job, or a larger project and calling in the professionals, you need to choose your paver materials, colour, finish and laying pattern. Paving products are broadly defined as natural rock (granite, travertine, sandstone etc), a composite, cast concrete, brick or clay. Simeon Bell of Exigo Outdoor Construction says different products have their own unique qualities, “so picking out a paving product for an outdoor project is about achieving the appearance, colour, and finish you want, within your budget." Here are some basic choices: Natural stone: This comes in a range of


colours and natural finishes. There will be some mild variation in sizing so stone might better suit a stretcher bond pattern than stack bond. Some stone pavers are in the mid-price range.  Cast concrete: Concrete pavers come in a vast array of colours and finishes. including faux stone. This is a budget-priced product. Brick: This is a rustic, earthy material that is inexpensive but colours can be limited. Clay: Clay pavers are stain-proof, don’t need sealing, don’t fade and come in smooth and rough finishes. On the expensive side. Think outside the square: Innovative permeable paving allows water to infiltrate rather than run-off so ticks the box for ecofriendliness. There are also pavers constructed from cement and wood waste, which are lightweight and strong.

PAVING FINISHES Andrew Bowling from Paving & Landscaping Solutions says it’s important to have the right style of paver for the application. For example, around a swimming pool, porous pavers such as sandstone won’t work well, unless they’re properly sealed. Different sealers can also enhance colours, or give pavers an appealing wet look, he adds. Regardless of the paver you have in mind, Andrew suggests sealing. “It’s a small price to pay to protect your investment,” he says. Slip-resistance in swimming pool zones and

high-traffic areas is also important. Smooth pavers with a reflective polished, or honed finish may be slippery. Exfoliated or flamed finishes are rough and slightly abrasive to the touch, so are a better choice. Check to see how rough or smooth the paver is by running your hand along it to feel its texture before you buy.

A NOTE ON COLOURS Choose a colour paver to complement, not match, the wall colour of your home. For example, Simeon suggests choosing a shade to complement your house trimmings. “It keeps

EXPERT ADVICE Lay pavers from several open pallets; each batch can differ in colour a little so if you mix them up it won’t be noticeable. Make sure the paved area is big enough to suit your needs before any work begins. Extending a paved area later can make it difficult to achieve an exact colour match. The larger the paver, the less lines in the space, so the larger the space will appear. For smaller spaces, the reverse is true: smallerformat pavers can crowd an area. Pavers don’t bend so for sloping sites (for example driveways), smaller-sized pavers (such as setts) will give a more streamlined finished. Make sure there’s a drainage fall across the pavers of at least 1:100 but no more than 1:50 so they still feel level. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Crazy paving, such as Endicott split stone from Eco Outdoor, is ideal for all kinds of outdoor designs.


Granite comes in a variety of shades, including the dark tones of Eco Outdoor’s Forest granite range.


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Large-format pavers make a space seem bigger. Pictured, Aspenstone pavers from Boral.

Limestone can be used inside or outside the home. Pictured, La Roche limestone from Eco Outdoor.

If you like an aged appearance, Boral’s Bradstone Old Town pavers are an ideal choice.

For the novice, a 90-degree grid pattern or stack bond (like a chessboard) is the most straightforward to lay. The 90 degrees is the angle or square line to your home. There are numerous other designs including stretcher bond (bricklaying style), diamond (looks fabulous when framed with a straight row), basket weave (great for country cottages) and crazy paving (broken up pieces of stone to form a jigsaw pattern). For more paving ideas, visit paving-patterns.htm If you’re DIYing, for a quality professional finish, use a diamond-blade brick saw for cuts. Like other purpose-designed tools, this can be hired from major hardware stores.

MEASURING AND ORDERING Cobblestones are ideal for hightraffic areas. Shown here, Eco Outdoor’s Sesame cobblestones.

it within the colour scheme of things, but also gives it contrast,” he says. Lighter-coloured pavers generally reflect heat, rather than absorb it, so in areas that will have a lot of foot traffic, and around pools, a lighter shade will work better, although stark-white pavers can produce glare in sunny areas. On the other hand, darker pavers can camouflage any staining around barbecue or alfresco areas. To open up small spaces, select neutralcoloured, large pavers. Laying pavers in a stretcher bond pattern across the width of a path will make it appear more substantial.

LAYING PATTERNS Deciding on a paver pattern depends on personal preference (some people like clean, straight lines), the size of the space (simple laying patterns can work better in small areas) and the style of the accompanying area (the idea is to complement the home).


Many paving companies have online calculators for measuring use. One example is the handy Boral calculator, which can be accessed at You can use a tape measure at home. Measure the length by the width of the area. For example, if you are paving a 10m x 5m area, this equals 50m² of coverage. The paver size determines how many pavers you’ll need. If using 400mm x 400mm square pavers, for example, the paver store will be able to tell you there are 6.25 pavers to 1m². So you multiply 6.25 x 50 and get 312.5. When ordering, always purchase at least five per cent extra pavers to allow for breakage and off-cuts. Also, before purchasing, make sure you’ve viewed the colour outside in natural light.

MIX IT UP Contrasting colours, paver sizes and materials can add elegance or interest to an alfresco space or help to define a driveway or garden path. For example, choose lighter colours in a large-format size for the bulk of the design, then frame the design in small-format pavers in a darker shade.

PAVING BASES Base preparation is one of the most vital things when paving an outdoor area. For most projects, crushed rock is used, however around a pool, concrete is preferred so there’s no movement, advises Andrew Bowling from Paving and Landscaping Solutions. For driveways, a subbase layer of aggregate material should be added to support weight loads.

Concrete pavers are a versatile option. Shown here, concrete pavers from Customstone SA.

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Spread bedding sand, then screed. The easiest way to screed sand is to use two guides and a screeding board.

For a modern look choose pavers with clean lines and a smooth finish, such as Boral's Abode pavers.

“To open up small spaces, select neutral-coloured, large pavers. Laying pavers in a stretcher bond pattern across the width of a path will make it appear more substantial” THE PAVING BASICS While it’s vital the paving be correctly installed, or it could end up uneven or run-off might become a problem, you can lay pavers yourself if you have a mind to try. If so, Andrew recommends you follow these steps: Set up: Mark the area with paint. Stringline around the area to the height of the paver. Dig it: Excavate the site to the required depth (allow for a crushed rock base of 50mm, bedding sand 20mm, and paver depth). Spread it: Spread crushed rock, level it and ensure there is a slight gradient (fall) away from the house for drainage. Compact it using a wacker plate compactor.

CHOOSING PAVERS Establish a clear idea of the garden’s overall look, as paving can form the foundation of a landscape’s theme. This can vary greatly, from a beach-inspired design to a contemporary European feel. Consider the practical requirements of the space. For example, poolside pavers should be salt-resistant and non-slip, while driveway pavers must be able to withstand weight and heavy traffic. Choose pavers that are a similar colour to the internal floors of your home to ensure consistency from the inside out. Measure the area to be paved and work out how many pavers will be required. A retailer or landscaper can advise on quantity. Maintenance should be considered as some pavers will require resealing approximately every two years, depending on the area. These expert tips were supplied by Charlie Condo, general manager of Boral Roofing & Masonry East. For more information on choosing pavers and laying patterns, visit


 Screed it: Place two pieces of metal screed poles lengthways to form a border either side, add the coarse bedding sand, rake the sand, then use a level piece of timber (or screed) to level the sand. Lay it: Follow your desired pattern, beginning square or parallel to the house, then compact again. Add a concrete haunch to hold the pavers in place. Grout between pavers using triplewhite-washed sand, hose in and sweep off. For more detailed instructions, there are many online guides to choose from. You might liketo visit garden-backyard/how-to-lay-pavers

Set string lines at right angles to establish paving lines. These will help keep the joints straight.

ONGOING MAINTENANCE Use a stiff-bristled broom or leaf blower as needed to remove debris. “Keep it clean so you don’t get staining from leaves around exposed areas or under the eaves,” suggests Andrew. Do not use acid or high-pressure cleaning equipment to clean pavers if you are not a professional. If you have a highly textured paver surface, it may need more frequent cleaning, adds Simeon. “Dirt will cling to more textured surfaces, so that’s something to think about regarding ongoing maintenance,” he says. To avoid rust stains, make sure metal outdoor furniture and barbecue bases are properly sealed and always clean stains before they harden or dry. Seal pavers after installation with a penetrating sealer and reseal pavers as required. Take extra care when sealing in high-traffic areas such as main pathways and paved entertaining areas, or if located near the coast. Choose a quality sealant and follow the product manufacturer’s instructions regarding resealing for best results.

Start laying along the longest straight edge and lay the whole pavers first. Leave 3-5mm between pavers.

create your perfect outdoor space... with Boral Pavers

Stoneworks Travertine in Smoke, 500 x 500mm paver with matching bullnose. TM

Available in different sizes, colours and finishes, visit us online or at your nearest retailer to find out more. Boral® is a registered trademark of Boral Limited or one of its subsidiaries. BCC 13741

A new lawn needs to cater to every family member, even pets. Photo courtesy of TLC Design.


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LAYING IT DOWN Making the right decision about which lawn turf you use will bring you years of backyard bliss When selecting turf, consider how much shade the lawn will receive. Photo courtesy of Turf Australia.

Words: Todd Layt hen buying turf, there are many variables you need to take into consideration as not every variety is best suited for all conditions. Everybody has individual requirements for their lawns and each location has different needs. These factors all need to be taken into consideration when making a decision on your lawn type. Before deciding, there are some integral questions you should address — does the grass need to be shade or wear tolerant? Should it be low maintenance? If you need to avoid using pesticides, should the grass be resistant to lawn grubs? Does the grass need to be drought or salt tolerant? Once you have established the requirements of your new lawn, you will then need to decide which turf variety will best suit your needs, so you can get the right lawn for the environment.


MAKING A SELECTION This may sound superficial, but one of the main reasons people buy a certain lawn type is for the look and the satisfaction of what they believe will be the best, darkest-green lawn in the street. Soft-leaf Buffalo, Kikuyu and Zoysia


3 4 5 6 7 8

Before any work can begin, remove all building waste and weeds. Spread a free-draining soil to a depth of 7-15cm (roots can penetrate much deeper) or loosen ground and mix in appropriate soil conditioners. Phone your supplier for more advice on this option. For sandy soils, simply mix in organic material and then go over the soil with a rotary hoe. Level the surface using a screeding board, lawn leveller or similar device. In summer months, moisten the soil but do not make it too wet. Do not lay turf on hot, dry soil. Lay the rolls of turf as soon as possible after delivery. On hot days, lay a section of grass and lightly water. Repeat until all grass is laid. On cool days, turf can be laid all at once. Roll and water thoroughly within one hour of laying turf. Water thoroughly for seven to 10 days or until turf is established. Ensure the water is saturating the soil beneath the turf. In colder months, the turf will take longer to establish. The turf should not dry out until the roots are established. When the soil has firmed and the grass has rooted down, usually two to three weeks after laying (longer during winter), mow lightly to tidy up the lawn.

all make great-looking lawns with appropriate care, but there a few lawn types that can be problematic. One such example is Couch, which can scalp very badly when mown with too much vigour as part of a regular home lawn maintenance regime and, as a result, can often look untidy. For this reason alone, Couch is not always the best choice for home lawns. The amount of shade the lawn will experience is a critical selection criterion. Soft-leaf Buffalo, Kikuyu and Zoysia will live in full sun but can also cope with varying degrees of shade. Kikuyu will fare well with up to 15 per


“When building a new house, the outside is usually the last task, and turf is the lowest-cost way to landscape a home” Choose the right turf and your kids will always have a soft play space. Photo courtesy of Turf Australia.


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Proper preparation is key when installing a new expanse of turf. Photo courtesy of Ozbreed.

Palmetto turf from Ozbreed is a soft-leaf Buffalo that will ensure you have a green winter lawn.

only very lightly in summer, you can save a lot of time not mowing turf. If it is a high-traffic area, more frequent fertilising is required, including summer fertilising. Standard fertilisers will need to be applied more regularly than slow-release types and with today’s cost of labour, this makes non-slow-release types expensive. A slow-release fertiliser will last months, while a normal fertiliser will only last a week. And one final tip: in shady areas, mow at a higher setting. Turf survives better in the shade if it is left longer.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS A contoured or sloping lawn can be a thing of beauty. Photo courtesy of Accent Landscapes.

cent shade; Zoysia, Nara native turf or Empire Zoysia will do well in up to 40 per cent shade; Palmetto, Sir Walter and most other Buffalo types in up to 60 per cent shade; and Sapphire Buffalo in up to 70 per cent shade. All lawns in the higher shade categories will also thrive in lower shade. For coastal areas where lawns get bombarded by salt-laden wind, Nara native turf is recommended as it has up to five times the salt tolerance of most other lawns. If you want the lowest-maintenance lawn possible, on average, Zoysia types need one-third the mowing and edging of Kikuyu, and about half that of Couch and Buffalo turf.

BEST TIME TO INSTALL In spring, summer and the first half of autumn, all turf types will establish well. Except for the

warm parts of Queensland or similar climates, the best winter-establishing lawn is Kikuyu, with the most winter active being Kenda Kikuyu. Zoysia types are very slow to establish and are best not transplanted in winter where possible. It will not root out until the weather warms up, so either do not transplant it in winter or top dress it lightly, rubbing the mix into the grass so a third of the leaves are showing. In coastal Queensland and Northern NSW, these turf types will establish adequately in winter. Buffalo types will establish slowly in the winters of Sydney and Perth, however in Adelaide and Melbourne, top dressing is recommended. Better yet, wait until spring or choose Kikuyu instead where possible. The ultimate quality of your lawn will depend on the soundness of the preparation, with soil preparation key. Create a loose, well-structured soil that will provide nutrients to the turf — you are aiming for a loose, crumbly, weed-free surface soil with firm soil below.


EXPERT TIP Turf comes in rolls that are laid like a carpet. As the rolls dry out quickly, store them in the shade and keep them moist. Lay them as soon as possible after delivery. Also, always obtain your turf from a reliable supplier.


The aesthetics of your turf can be enhanced, and maintenance costs can be saved by using the right type of fertiliser at the right times of year. For Kikuyu, Buffalo and Zoysia, the most important times of the year to fertilise are autumn and winter. If applied at these times, winter colour is greatly improved. Mid-spring is the other important season to fertilise. Make sure you use a slow-release fertiliser. The winter slow-release fertilise will carry over through early spring. By not fertilising or fertilising

Besides its good looks and eco-benefits, there is another reason to have a lawn. When building a new house, the outside is usually the last task, and turf is the lowest-cost way to landscape a home, while not breaking the budget. Compared to ground covers and ornamental plants, pavers and decorative gravels, turf is the most cost-effective surface. Replacing a lawn can be costly, though, and there is no such thing as a miracle grass that works everywhere; you need to choose wisely. (For more information on choosing, installing and maintaining turf, visit As for design, a lawn area with gentle curves will be easier to mow and water than those that are square and have sharp corners. Avoid too many small garden beds, trees or shrubs in the lawn. These will make it difficult to mow and break up the sweeping look that a lawn should provide. A concrete, brick or paved mower strip around lawn edges will help keep the edges tidy.

MAKING THE GRADE Lawns do not need to be dead level, they can follow the natural contours of the ground. The lawn should slope away from the house for drainage reasons. There should be no need to remove hollows and high spots by grading the prepared soil. If you do want your lawn to be level, however, use a grader, then water and allow the soil to settle for a week or so before raking and regrading if necessary. A homemade grader can be made from a heavy piece of timber or an old wooden gate or door. If the soil is too soft and spongy after this process, it should be rolled to consolidate it, and then raked again. If it is only soft in spots, use your heels to tread down the soil.


LAWN ALTERNATIVE FOR HEAVY SHADE The one mow per year lawn alternative that works where turf won’t live. Ideal between pavers, in heavy shade or full sun.

Isabella® Liriope muscari ‘LIRF’ PBR A one mow per year lawn alternative that tolerates frost, drought DQGKXPLGLW\,WKDVEHDXWLIXOSLQNÁRZHUVLQVXPPHU

Silverlawn™ Liriope muscari ‘LIRSS’ PBR Clean variegated foliage that almost looks silver from a distance. A one mow per year Liriope that tolerates frost and drought.

As this garden by Formation Landscapes proves, a healthy lawn boosts your home’s value.

A HEALTHY START To grow a vigorous lawn, you don’t just need the correct turf, you need to have good-quality soil

Words: Todd Layt eveloping a healthy lawn from day one all depends on the quality of your soil. If the soil is poor and compacted, no turf will thrive. If the soil under the turf is good, you’ll have a healthy lawn for many years into the future. For best growth, newly installed turf grass needs just four things (each within the proper balance) to grow: sunlight, air, water and nutrients. Reduce any of these, or provide extra amounts of any one, and the grass may suffer or simply die. But with the right proportions, your lawn will flourish.


COMMON SOIL ISSUES NON-CHEMICAL WEED CONTROL The best non-chemical ways to control weeds are to mow your lawn regularly and to choose a lawn (such as Buffalo or Zoysia) that competes well with weeds. To remove weeds, you can chip or hand weed. Alternatively, steam or hot water can be used to kill weeds. If used correctly, steam or hot water will kill broadleaf weeds without harming turf grass, experiment on small areas first to decide for yourself how best to do it. Nowadays, you can purchase small portable steamers. Plug these into an extension cord and steam away the weed.


Grass obtains three of these four essential factors (air, water and nutrients) from the soil, but some soils are less than ideal for growing grass. Some soils contain an excessive amount of clay and may be very compacted (which is ideal for roads, bad for grass) because air and water aren’t available to the roots and the roots can’t grow. Other soils contain too much sand (beautiful on a beach, but hard to grow grass on) and, as a result, water and nutrients don’t stay in the root zone for long enough for the plant to use. Another frequently observed issue with many soils is that the pH (the degree of acidity or alkalinity) is too high or too low for optimum grass growth. So getting the soil right is important. Ideally, you’d get the existing soil checked by a soil

ABOVE Use quality lawn products. Pictured, Lawn Booster and Lawn Activator from Grange.

scientist, who would inform you of what it needs, but this is not always practical. If you’d like to go down this route, however, simply do an online search for soil laboratories to find one near you.

WHERE TO START First, you have to kill any existing grass or weeds with glyphosate. Spraying once will kill most things but, if you can, a follow-up spray a couple of months later will ensure virtually everything is dead. Before spraying, be certain the weeds and undesirable grass is healthy, it even helps to water



Laying turf is the best way to install a lawn. Seeding only works well in places such as Tasmania where cool-climate turf, including Fescue, is used. Warm-climate turf seed such as Kikuyu germinate far too slowly and are difficult to get a good result from. Simply lay one roll of lawn around the outside and then fill in the area with turf, laying it all in the same direction. Patch up any gaps and water in well. On hot days, water the turf in sections as you lay it. Don’t fertilise until a month after the turf is laid and, when you do, use a good, slowrelease fertiliser. For the first two weeks, the lawn cannot dry out. On a hot summer’s day, this may mean watering three times per day, or once on a milder day. After two weeks, watering can often be reduced to every second or third day. Before laying new turf, you need to loosen the top layer of soil. Photo courtesy of Bosch.

a few times before spraying to be absolutely sure. This process is more effective if the weeds are growing well. When you do eventually have good soil, it’s time to hire a subcontractor who has a tractor rotary hoe or you can hire a small one from a rental company to loosen the soil bed to a minimum of 100mm and a max of 200mm. If the soil is too hard, water it well the evening before. After rotary

WATER WISELY hoeing, rake out any dead foliage, if required, and level the ground. If the soil is a clay or sandy type, or in relatively poor condition, use some organic soil conditioner, at least two cubic metres per 100 square metres. Spread this over the soil. If it happens to be a clay type, use gypsum as well. Use a rotary hoe to combine it well into the ground, and then rake the ground smooth.

New lawn will need frequent watering until its growing strongly, after which it is important to give less-frequent but heavier watering to encourage roots to penetrate more deeply. Once established, the amount of water needed depends on a host of factors including climate, location, type of grass, weather conditions and soil type. Cool-climate grasses need more regular watering than droughtresistant, warm-season grasses, which are often over-watered, especially in winter when they are dormant or when growth is slow.



Based in the Hawkesbury region in Sydney, Rivers Edge Turf offers a great number of turf choices for Sydney homes. Choose from our great range of grasses and we will offer a complete returfing solution. We can cut and deliver your new turf, and we will install it for you. This ensures it is installed quickly and by professionals who know what they’re doing.

For more information contact us at 02 4579 9009 or visit our website BACKYARD

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To help keep white curl grubs at bay, mow your lawn a little higher. Photo courtesy of Bosch.

PEST PATROL Tackle lawn-loving white curl grub with these simple and safe natural methods Photography by Diane Norris.

Words: Diane Norris ou might love your lawn, but so does the pesky little white curl grub. To check for white curl grub, place some wet hessian on a patch overnight. By early morning, the grubs should have surfaced and will be easy to spot. They are plump, C-shaped, whitish grubs with orange heads. Their bodies look segmented and their three pairs of legs are near the head. These lawn beetle larvae infiltrate lawn and feed on roots, damaging the turf. Egglaying lawn beetles can be a problem yearround, particularly in warm, wet weather from November to May. If white curl grubs have infected lawn areas, the telltale signs are: general yellowing, then browning of the grass, followed by patchy death of lawn areas. You may also notice green or brown droppings on lawn areas, and white moths flying closely over grass at sunset.



EXPERT TIP White curl grubs can intrude into garden beds and plant pots, not just lawn areas. After they have done their damage, help your lawn and other plants recover by diligently applying a seaweed solution every two to four weeks.


Here are some great preventive measures and organic solutions to deal with this pest: Native birds: Magpies, kookaburras and grey thrush are a few of the native birds that can spot, dig up and eat curl grubs. That’s why it’s so important not to use chemical sprays. If you spray a pesticide to control curl grubs, the birds may be poisoned as well. To give the birds a helping hand, pour a bucket of cool, soapy water made with a biodegradable detergent onto affected lawn areas. The larvae and beetles will migrate to the surface, becoming easy pickings. Mowing height: Mow lawns higher, about 4cm. For those who like to scalp lawn areas, this may seem a bit long but it pays dividends. Both beetles and moths love laying their eggs

Aerating a lawn is one way to help keep it pest free. Pictured, the Cyclone Tubular Steel Lawn Aerator.

as close to the soil as possible, so longer grass discourages them. Watering: White curl grubs flourish in a moist environment. The soil in which lawn grows doesn’t need to be constantly moist. Water deeply and only when necessary. Your lawn areas will become more drought-tolerant and much less appealing to white curl grub. Aeration for lawns: Grass needs good soil to grow strong roots and regular lawn aeration is needed. You can use a garden fork or longhandled cultivator to do the job. Aeration will encourage a deep root system that’s far more resilient to grub attack.

PERSISTENT PESTS If those prevention methods are not absolutely satisfactory, the following control methods are safe to use in the organic garden. Insectkilling nematodes, known as entomopathogenic nematodes (ENs), are safe to handle, safe for plants and active only against specific soildwelling insects, such as grubs. Bacillus thuringiensis is a biological control bacterium marketed as Dipel. The solution is considered safe for bees, fish, birds and pets, and can be applied to lawn as well as other plants. It contains no poisons but it’s important to follow the instructions on the packaging. Match your irrigation system to the needs of your lawn. Shown, Pope Products’ Square Wave sprinkler.

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Want to know more about these fabulous new plants? Check out full details on our website.



Keep 2016 & your garden well-balanced with your Whether created by a gifted landscape designer or a dedicated homeowner with a love of gardening, each of these gardens is a testament to the creative human spirit. May your year ahead be full of the same love, dedication and care that has gone into creating these great Australian landscape gardens.Â

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If you want a lifestyle-enhancing garden, you need an innovative designer


ood garden design is about more than complementing the architecture of a home. It’s about reflecting just what it is that makes the owners of that property unique: their lifestyle, their interests, their tastes. Upon finding someone who will design with your individuality in mind, the next step is to ensure they have the experience — and willingness — to equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions. Natalie Watts of Brisbane-based Branat Designs couldn’t agree more. “Our goal is to help people bring their ideas and inspirations to life by creating innovative spaces that enhance people’s lifestyles and give their home’s character and value,” she says.


Branat Designs, which is run by Natalie and her husband, Brad, offers four main services: consultancy, design, construction and styling. Consultations include a visit to your home by Natalie, a qualified horticulturist and landscape designer. The design process is also spearheaded by Natalie, who says, “We start by listening to what you want and then adding to your vision with our own creative ideas. We love to think outside the box to ensure a unique end result. “When it comes to construction, we strive for excellence of workmanship. We can install or project manage all aspects of your landscape, whether it is a small courtyard or a terrace, or a an entire garden, front and back. We can then top it all off with creative styling, which is what

really brings the character to your garden.” Branat Designs has a strong focus on sustainable design. “We can recommend plants that will preserve and protect ecosystems and reduce the amount of care and energy required to maintain a healthy garden,” explains Natalie. “We also undertake the best environmental practice in terms of material selection for any construction elements, and we ensure that the soil is healthy before any planting. In short, we aim for minimal ongoing maintenance and minimal impact on the environment.” Branat Designs can tackle projects of any size. The team can landscape new homes, remodel yards or turn apartment balconies into highrise gardens. Branat can also provide detailed


maintenance plans so you can easily manage the long-term care of your garden and keep it looking its best at all times. “What it comes down to is we want you to love your new space and we want it to enhance your lifestyle. Our job isn’t done until then,” says Natalie. Thanks to this philosophy, Branat Designs has built a reputation for innovative, quality landscaping in Brisbane. This has generated word-of-mouth referrals that have introduced the company to clients in Toowoomba and Maryborough in Queensland, as well as in Sydney.

Natalie says, “We welcome enquiries from anywhere and you can be assured of receiving a tailored solution that meets your specific needs.”

GET THE LOOK BRANAT DESIGNS PO Box 712, Ashgrove West Qld 4060 Mobile 0402 416 399 (Natalie Watts), 0413 596 731 (Brad Watts) Email Website


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A vertical garden is a great way to add colour and life to an outdoor space drip irrigation system that waters from the top down. Designed to suit a large range of plants, the recyclable, UV-stabilised pots come in boxes of 10. The system can be bought online, at leading nurseries and garden centres throughout Australia, or from the PAPS Vertical Garden Display & Garden Centre in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield South. This is a one-stop shop for all your vertical gardening needs, from organic soil (with the right nutrients and drainage for green walls) to plants. The garden centre also offers a swap-a-pot service, which means you can purchase a pot once and then swap it for the cost of a new plant. PAPS Vertical Gardens’ speciality is green wall design and consultation, the cost of which is deducted from your purchases if you buy your plants and vertical garden system from PAPS Vertical Gardens. The company also provides an installation service, which comes with a three-month free maintenance program. The company also offers ongoing maintenance at very competitive prices.


icture this. A garden wall of spring flowers or your favourite herbs and vegetables. All this, and a great deal more, is possible with PAPS Vertical Gardens — and at a great price. PAPS Vertical Gardens has designed an easy-to-use vertical garden system that’s ideal for balconies, courtyards, decks or even larger backyards. This innovative new system, developed in consultation with leading horticulturalists and landscape designers, offers the simple-to-install,


cost-effective green wall solution the home landscaping market has been waiting for. The system comprises a slimline frame and pots, which simply hook on and off the frame. You can choose between a free-standing frame (1500mm high, 600mm wide and 300mm deep) or a wall-mounted frame (1320mm high, 600mm wide and 250mm deep), which comes pre-drilled. Both frames are powder-coated, hold 18 pots and, at your request, can be fitted with a simple

GET THE LOOK PAPS VERTICAL GARDENS Vertical Garden Display & Garden Centre 612 Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South Vic 3062 Phone (03) 9523 7369 Website Facebook


Wood-grain aluminium cladding will keep you safe and your home looking good


hen building a house or renovating an outdoor area, the top things people generally consider are looks and cost. If they’re your top two, you’re missing something vastly more important: safety. In today’s world of building codes and standards, we implicitly trust that the materials our builders use are up to scratch, and that they won’t hurt us. Sadly, this is not always the case. Last year, a high-rise building in Melbourne’s Docklands caught fire when a lit cigarette was left on a wooden table in a sixthfloor apartment. Within minutes, the building was wreathed in a pillar of flame 21 stories high. It caused more than two million dollars in damage and displaced dozens of residents. How did such a small fire get out of control so fast? The answer: the sub-standard cladding material, imported from overseas, which covered the entire building. Fire isn’t the only danger that sub-standard materials can pose. Household pathogens such as mould and mildew can cause longterm health problems. The US Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention reported that long-term exposure to mould can cause asthma-like symptoms, even in normally healthy people, and older individuals can develop serious, potentially life-threatening lung infections. With all these possible dangers, you need to make smart decisions with your building materials. This project, built by Ryan Designer Homes and located on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, shows that you don’t have to sacrifice looks for safety. Knotwood cladding was a perfect choice for this build. It’s made from aluminium so it can’t catch fire and because it contains no biological material, it cannot harbour dangerous moulds. It also looks like well-finished timber and, unlike timber, will stay that way for a lifetime, with next to no maintenance. With all of Knotwood’s products made right here in Australia, you can be assured of quality. The results speak for themselves. The company also supplies a variety of other timber-look aluminium products for use around the home, all backed by a 15-year warranty.

GET THE LOOK KNOTWOOD Phone 1300 KNTOWOOD (1300 5668 9663) Website


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Composite exterior cladding provides a stylish and cost-saving solution


hen the architects were choosing a cladding material for this luxury townhouse development in the Melbourne suburb of Kew, an exotic rainforest timber was originally specified. When the cost of ongoing maintenance was discussed, however, reality hit home: the body corporate would have to foot the bill. Clearly, an alternative was required and after an extensive review process, Futurewood’s low-maintenance wood-plastic composite (WPC) cladding proved the obvious choice. “If these townhouses had been built using timber for the external cladding around the windows and for the balconies and fences, the regular maintenance would become an annual headache for the body corporate,” says David Elms, director of Futurewood. “The maintenance cost of timber in this situation would be extreme due to the complexity involved in safely preparing and recoating each area at height, not to mention the disruption to the residents while this work was carried out.” The look of the material was also an important consideration and any concerns about using “fake wood” were soon dispelled when samples of Futurewood’s EnviroSlat were presented for review. The colour is evenly spread throughout the product and each board boasts a natural-looking, coarse sanded finish. So not only are no oiling, painting or staining required, the cladding looks amazing.


In the photos shown here, Futurewood’s EnviroSlat was used in three different profiles: 104mm x 19mm, 125mm x 19mm shiplap and 70mm x 15mm. The colour is simply called Wood. The Futurewood product range includes weatherproof cladding, decorative cladding, decking, fencing and slatting, all of which are made from a solid WPC material comprised of up to 90 per cent recycled or reclaimed material. This means you can rest assured that

no trees were felled and no animals displaced — as is the case when harvesting rainforest trees — to make any Futurewood product.

GET THE LOOK FUTUREWOOD PTY LTD Phone 1300 484 308 Email Website


Heat up your next party by adding a wood-fired oven to your outdoor kitchen


nleash your inner chef with a woodfired oven and bring the delicious taste sensations of timeless European cookery to your own backyard. Succulent roasts, crusty breads, delicious desserts, mouth-watering pizzas … no matter what’s on the menu, woodfired cooking creates a scrumptious infusion of tantalising flavours that will have your family and friends lining up for seconds. Australia’s premier wood-fired oven specialist, The Melbourne Fire Brick Company, offers the eager home entertainer and avid cook several options, but one of the most popular is the company’s complete wood-fired oven installation service. The installation arm of the business has been steadily growing, and for good reason. Australians spend a lot of time on their decks or out in their backyards and they need to know that their new wood-fired oven not only looks amazing but that it has also been expertly installed, ensuring maximum functionality and longevity. The experienced staff at The Melbourne Fire Brick Company can help you with the whole process. They can work with you to design the perfect wood-fired oven, one that will meet your lifestyle needs and perfectly complement your outdoor entertaining area. They can also help you with choosing the right location for your new oven, laying foundations, building a solid stand and trimming your wood-fired oven to give your

outdoor entertaining area a fully finished, fully integrated appearance. Whatever option you choose, whether it’s a custom design and full installation, or you prefer to go down the DIY route, there is no denying there is something about cooking with fire that draws people in, taking them back to simpler times. It also engages people, acting as a talking — and gathering — point. The glow of embers at night is always a drawcard. Then there is the bonus of having an additional open-flame heat source in the cooler months, completing the full sensory experience and adding to the ambience.



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It’s the latest trend in lawns … a hardy grass with a fine-leaf texture


apphire Buffalo has grown enormously in popularity in recent years. That’s because Sapphire® Stenotaphrum secundatum ‘B12’ Buffalo grass has all the benefits of other high-performance, softleaf Buffalo grasses — it is hard-wearing, needs less water, produces deep roots, is greener in winter and is a good sun turf — plus, while most Buffalos are also good in shade, research has shown that Sapphire Buffalo is the best type of Buffalo for a shaded area. Another appealing quality of Sapphire Buffalo grass is that it has a finer texture, the result of its folding leaf. When Sapphire Buffalo grass is mature, each leaf folds at right angles along its axis, resulting in a fine texture. This


is important, because fine-leaf Buffalo lawns usually have thatch problems, are shallow rooted, poor wearing and slow growing. With a Sapphire Buffalo lawn, however, you will get the advantage of the fine texture without the issues. Sapphire is the number-one Buffalo for shaded areas, a claim backed by trial data generated by Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Sapphire is recommended for up to 70 per cent shade in areas of low to moderate wear and up to 50 per cent shade in areas with moderate to high wear. Good nutrition and a slightly higher mowing height can somewhat improve shade tolerance. Sapphire Buffalo grass has rapid growth

across the ground, which allows it to cope well with high-traffic situations and show a fast recovery from wear. Due to the tight mat and high performance, Sapphire leaves very little room for weeds to grow, meaning it is excellent at outcompeting weeds. The very deep root system of Sapphire Buffalo means that, once established, it is a drought-tough Buffalo grass that will continue to look great, even during periods of less frequent watering. Sapphire Buffalo also has excellent disease tolerance. According to DPI and HAL research, which was conducted on a site located at Richmond, NSW, Sapphire produced, on average, far less seed head over a 12-month monitoring period


compared to other Buffalos. In fact, after summarising the research data, it was found that Sapphire had a 39 per cent lower seed head score compared to the averages of other Buffalos. With much less seed head produced, Sapphire is an excellent low-allergenic grass. Another benefit is that Sapphire Buffalo turf has great winter colour in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne (provided it is fertilised in April). It will go dormant in colder areas such as Canberra, but will still hold its colour better in winter. The bottom line: Sapphire Buffalo’s deep-green colour will make any home lawn the envy of the street.



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Whatever your screening or fencing needs may be, bamboo is the answer


ooking for a natural way to add privacy or screen your garden? If so, Bamboo Habitat’s bamboo screens are ideal. These easy-to-manage, 1.2m-wide screens can be joined for a continuous, seamless look or framed for a more structured appearance. They can be cut down into smaller sections (to create a gate, for example) and they can be made to follow a curved line, making them perfect for use around circular objects, such as water tanks. Finished using traditional firing methods, the Smoked range is Bamboo Habitat’s largest.

Smoked screens have a wonderful, earthy scent and a scorched, woody-brown tone, which is the perfect natural backdrop to plantings or art. If you prefer a more traditional look, the Natural Delta is the style for you. You can let it weather to a soft blonde/grey tone or enhance the light colour with Bamboo Habitat’s exclusive Bamboo Honey UV-tinted marine varnish. Bamboo Habitat offers customers a plethora of choices. The Delta style, for example, is available in three heights (1.5m, 1.8m and 2.1m) and two colour options, Natural and Smoked. Then there

is the Smoked Moku, with an upmarket hardwood timber detail (this screen stands 1.8m high) and the Smoked Congo, which has a staggered top (available with a height of 1.8m through to 2.1m). For quality, all screens are made from full, round bamboo poles (not split) and are strung internally with 3mm galvanised wire, ensuring structural soundness for around 15 years. For convenience, Bamboo Habitat offers an installation service in the Sydney metropolitan area and on the NSW South Coast, and if you can’t collect from the Sydney warehouse, an Australiawide, door-to-door freight service is also available. If you want to complement your screening with garden decor or water features, Bamboo Habitat can assist customers to buy direct from its sister business in Bali or coordinate orders/ shipments on their behalf.

GET THE LOOK BAMBOO HABITAT Phone (02) 4294 1385 Email Website


Take your decorating cues from plants such as the Sweet Spot Calypso rose.



Transform your outdoor living spaces with the simple addition of colour


urely no one needs inspiration to focus on spring in the garden but, if you do, here’s a tip: play with colour. Even when fashion dictates we tone down the colour palette — sometimes as far as white, beige, grey and black — we still give Mother Nature greater freedom. Perhaps it’s our primal response to vivid colour that keeps us keen to find the garden filled with flowers in riotous hues. However, if your garden isn’t giving you the colour rush you’d like, here are two ways to make it happen. 1. Pick a colour and add it in. This is a great way to take an established evergreen garden and work colour into it without losing its integrity of style. For example, picture a classic front-door precinct, complete with box hedging and pencil pines. The house itself is probably white with a black railing up the steps and, together with all that deep green, it presents a handsome, low-key residence to passers-by. Now, imagine you live in that house and you love red. All you need to do is paint the front door red and arrange a matched set of potted red geraniums on each step. 2. Get decorative. So you’ve dusted off the outdoor furniture for the coming entertaining season

Add plants, such as a potted Flower Carpet Yellow rose, to your garden decor.

and it all looks a little ho-hum, not surprising, as most furniture available is generally colourneutral. Here’s an opportunity to decorate your outdoor space, much like you would a room in your house. Head straight to your nearest garden centre and search for something that makes you happy just looking at it, such as the Sweet Spot Decorator rose. Whatever you spot, grab a few of them to plant out in a large pot, which you can set up on the patio among the furniture. Then

Volcano Phlox comes in many colours and flowers for several months each year.

take your cue from the colours in the flowers to grab a few throw cushions to scatter about to tie it all together. So there you have it — two simple, hasslefree ways to introduce splashes of colour into your garden this spring.



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With the right turf, your garden can be carpeted in green all-year-round


othing shows off an attractive garden better than a beautifully green, wellkept lawn. The key? To select the right turf for the location. There is a wide variety of different grasses, each one suited to different conditions. The first thing to consider is your climate; choose a grass or a blend that suits your climate and the amount of water that is available. Other factors to take into account are whether the grass is to be in sun or shade or in a mixture of both, the amount of time you want to spend on the lawn and how much wear it will get. Seeking the expert guidance of a turf specialist such as Rivers Edge Turf is the best way to ensure you make the right choice. “We know what you require to enhance your


garden and we have a turf variety to suit every situation,” says company owner, Mary Mifsud. “Turf is like a natural carpet that completes your landscaping project,” she continues. “Not only that, lawn absorbs heat in summer, so it cools down your yard, and a good-looking lawn that is free of weeds will increase the value of your property by as much as 10 per cent.” Rivers Edge Turf offers several lawn products, including Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo, Palmetto Soft Leaf Buffalo, Nara Native Turf, Kikuyu, Kenda Kikuyu and three sun-loving Couch varieties (Santa Ana, Wintergreen and Greenleas Park). Turf is taken straight from the Rivers Edge Turf farm and is delivered mature, healthy and

weed-free. Besides the supply of top-quality turf, what sets this company apart is its lawn installation and renovation service. “We can do the job from start to finish,” says Mary. “This means removing or spraying out your existing lawn, then installing a new lawn.” Rivers Edge Turf has packages to suit all requirements and budgets.

GET THE LOOK RIVERS EDGE TURF 215 Wilberforce Road, Wilberforce NSW 2756 Phone (02) 4579 9009 Email Website


Beautiful and practical, tailor-made sails are the ideal shade solution


urrounded by water on three sides, this property in North Moruya, a picturesque town on the NSW South Coast, captures sweeping views of mountains, a lake and the Moruya River. The house, which overlooks a large garden, has a north-west aspect and so, in summer, heat radiates through the lower storey of the home. As a result, the outdoor entertaining area would get so hot it was almost unusable. The eastern side of the house was also exposed to very bright, strong morning sun, yet another source of radiated heat within the building. The brief given to 3D Sails was to provide shade to the outdoor areas, add some colour and enhance the ambience ‌ all without compromising the property’s spectacular views. 3D Sails designed and installed a series of shade

sails, which significantly improved the look and functionality of the property. 3D Sails specialises in tailor-made shade sails and structures that are beautiful and practical. The company also supplies and installs all fixing points, including poles, roof and gutter mounts, as well as sail tracks. Committed to quality, 3D Sails uses Rainbow Shade fabric (which has a 10-year guarantee), Teflon thread (guaranteed for the life of the fabric) and 316 marine-grade stainless-steel fittings and edge wire. In addition, 3D Sails only employs qualified tradesmen and installers for all on-site work and provides a seven-year warranty on workmanship. Operating in the ACT and throughout the NSW South Coast (from Nowra to Merimbula), 3D

Sails can provide an obligation-free quote, which includes an on-site inspection to discuss your shade requirements, be it a waterproof sail or an architectural shade structure. With the help of the shade specialists at 3D Sails, you can be assured of a design solution that will be practical and visually enhance your surroundings.

GET THE LOOK 3D SAILS Unit 6, 3 Cranbrook Road, Batemans Bay NSW 2536 Phone 1300 337 2457 Email Website


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Enjoy the endless versatility of eco-friendly black bamboo screening panels


ustralians have long been captivated by the natural allure and endless versatility of bamboo screening. It enhances the look of any garden and works with any landscape style. Best of all, it is affordable, quick and easy to install, resistant to moisture and termites, and is eco-friendly. Bamboo screening looks fabulous whether used as cladding on an existing fence, as a privacy screen for a deck, patio or balcony, as a backdrop to a sculpture or fountain, or as an architectural feature. In small spaces where clutter will make an area look messy and feel smaller, bamboo screening can be used to hide outdoor gear, bins, pool equipment and the like. Bamboo screening is also an environmentally friendly solution as it is a quick-growing, highyielding plant. It is said that one hectare of land will deliver 60 tonnes of bamboo but the same land planted with trees will only yield 20 tonnes of timber and those trees will take many more years to reach maturity. Infinity Panels offers an array of affordable black bamboo creening that can be used to enhance any garden. The screens’ natural


texture and warm tones create a resort feel and are the perfect way to offset a planting palette of vibrant green foliage and vivid blooms. The 1m-wide bamboo panels are available in three heights (1.8m, 2m and 2.4m) and are coated with a clear water-based lacquer (no artificial colours are used). These panels can be installed vertically or horizontally, or you can try a combination of both. The important thing is to never compromise on quality. Your screen needs to be able to withstand the elements and hold up against the test of time. Of course the price is another benefit. The wholesale price is about 35 per cent less than you’d pay for bamboo screens at a hardware chain and the quality is undeniable. It also pays to find a supplier that can offer design advice. Infinity Panels’ expert staff are on hand to custom design a screening solution that will transform your garden. They can also offer advice on how to use their black bamboo capping and edging for a fully coordinated look. For those seeking more, Infinity Panels’ now offers a personalised garden design and landscaping/installation service.

GET THE LOOK INFINITY PANELS Warehouse: 6 Bricker Street, Cheltenham Vic 3192 Mobile 0411 118 858 Email Website

Backyard Bliss...

A stationary compost bin, such as the Tumbleweed 400L bin pictured, is a tidy choice.

ABOVE A compost bin or heap puts kitchen scraps and garden clippings to good use.

HEAPS OF GOODNESS Composting is cheap, surprisingly easy and good for your garden — not to mention the planet Words: Erina Starkey here are many benefits to composting. It is startlingly simple, cost-effective and ecologically responsible. The key is selecting a composting method that’s manageable and well suited to your lifestyle.


HEAPS AND PITS You don’t need a container to start composting — you can simply establish a heap in a disused area of your backyard. If you’re not convinced it’s the right look for your garden, you can also dig a pit and bury the waste instead. While compost mounds and pits take a longer time to process (think 12 months), this system works particularly well for lawn clippings or autumn leaves, preparing the soil for next year. For this cost-effective and straightforward method, the only investment required is time.


STATIONARY BINS Stationary composting bins are a tidier alternative, useful for processing high volumes of organic waste. Stationary models are typically bottomless, allowing worms and beneficial microorganisms to enter and assist with the breakdown. A bottomless structure also allows moisture and rain to drain out. Otherwise, if the heap becomes wet, microbial activity becomes limited and the compost can start to smell. The drawback with stationary models is you need to turn the material manually, which can be an arduous task. Choose a compost bin with a hatch at the bottom, as the final product can be difficult to access via a shovel from the top. The advantage of store-bought composting bins is that they’re neat and secure, ensuring pests and animals are unable to penetrate them. You can purchase stationary models from

any garden centre. Many local councils offer subsidised compost bins to residents, so check online to see if you’re eligible. A compost bin is a simple structure that can also be fashioned at home from reclaimed materials. An ordinary plastic bin may easily be converted into a composter by cutting off the bottom with a saw and drilling holes in the side for aeration. Bury the bottom of the bin below ground and press loosened soil around the sides to secure it.

TUMBLERS These self-contained barrels, drums or balls rotate for easy mixing and fast decomposition. They are the most efficient models on the market, producing workable compost in a matter of weeks. Their design — above ground and fully sealed — ensures they are extremely durable and impenetrable to pests. Some tumbler models have holes in the drum and a collection chamber in the base to drain compost tea, a liquid that’s high in nutrients and extremely beneficial for your garden. As these models are usually suspended above ground, tumblers cannot hold as much material as stationary models. You’ll also need to wait until the first load is processed before you add more matter.

EXPERT TIP As you gain experience, you can consider adding a second or third bin to your operation. A multi-bin system works like a production line, with new material in the first bay and finished material in the second or third bay, moving each load down as it matures. A set-up like this is ideal for larger households with big backyards or community spaces that generate a significant amount of organic waste.


VERMICOMPOSTING Worms are nature’s recyclers, converting your leftover organic scraps into castings and decomposed matter, a mixture that contains a greater diversity of beneficial microbes than traditional compost alone. Tiered worm farms comprise a series of stacked trays where worms are added to the bottom level with successively fresher trays stacked on top of them. As the worms finish one tray, they migrate to the next one up, leaving their castings behind for use. The liquid waste from worms also functions as a highly concentrated fertiliser that can be collected, diluted and sprayed over plants and seedlings in the garden. To make your life easier, look for worm farms that have a tap at the bottom to collect this liquid. For a less elaborate set-up, you can make a worm farm by using almost any sturdy waterproof container. A worm bin or bucket can fit discreetly in a cupboard, garage or laundry, making composting quick and convenient, especially for small-space gardeners and apartment dwellers.

BELOW If you don’t have much space outside, consider a compact Bokashi system.

Rotating tumblers hasten decomposition. Pictured, Tumbelweed’s 220L compost tumbler.

RIGHT Worms play a key role, converting organic waste into a soil-enriching mixture.

trimmings, bones and animal products. Ultimately, whichever method you choose, composting is a win-win situation. Not only do you reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, you also create nutrient-rich food for your soil.

BOKASHI METHOD Residents with limited space may also want to consider the Japanese Bokashi system, which uses beneficial microbes to ferment waste rather than compost it. The end result is a fermented (or pickled) mass of waste that can go straight into the soil.

Bokashi models are compact, so they can be neatly stored on the kitchen bench or under the sink. They have an airtight seal so there are no associated odours. This system works 50 per cent faster than conventional anaerobic methods and allows you to compost food you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, including meat

ECO FACT In Australia, 47 per cent of domestic waste that ends up in landfill is organic. By diverting your kitchen scraps and organic matter into a compost heap, you’ll reduce greenhouse gases while creating a nutrient-rich soil additive for your garden.


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Photography by Diane Norris.

Aphids have several natural predators, including ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies.


Not all insects are pests. A caterpillar could be next season’s butterfly.

BUG OFF! We share some effective non-chemical measures for dealing with insect pests in your garden

Photography by Diane Norris.

Spiders can be beneficial, eating unwanted insects in great quantity.

Photography by Diane Norris.

Scale and mealybugs: Bugs such as these need suffocating, so you can make an oil preparation by mixing 4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid into 1 cup of vegetable oil. Then mix 1 part of that mixture into about 20 parts of water. Use a spray bottle to soak affected plants thoroughly. Aphids: This common pest needs spraying with 2 tablespoons of soap flakes mixed with 1L of warm water. You can also buy live lady beetles to introduce into your garden if you don’t see any around.

The humble ladybird is a welcome and pretty visitor to any backyard.

Words: Diane Norris


WHAT IS A PEST? Pests can interfere to a small or large degree with our human environment and are simply creatures in the wrong place at the wrong time. They can range in destructiveness from a few chomping caterpillars to swarms of plague grasshoppers and anything in between. Yet all these “pests” are small compared to human beings. It’s their diminutive size that allows them to live in so many habitats worldwide, hidden away from us until we suddenly notice their

Photography by Vera Buhl.

hen we hear the word pest, our first thoughts are of insects and spiders, little creepy crawlies that send shivers down our spines or perhaps even provoke an underlying phobic reaction. But if you watch Sir David Attenborough’s fabulous series, Life in the Undergrowth, perhaps your knowledge and understanding of insects will reach a point where you can understand and appreciate these often maligned creatures.

Photography by John Cummings.


Plant-sucking mealybugs are typically found in warm, most climates.

depredations — often too late. It’s extremely important to distinguish between pests and the creatures that are harmless to the environment or indeed an essential part of it. Take those strange creatures, spiders, with their eight legs and eyes and their stealthy habits. They are among the most feared and hated invertebrate animals but spiders are our best natural pest controllers, catching huge numbers of moths, beetles and other winged insects, including flies and mosquitoes. In fact, a spider can eat up to double its weight every day. Insects and spiders are part of the biodiversity of life and some tolerance is needed in our relationships with them. It’s vital that you familiarise yourself with the “pest” species and those that are harmless before taking any action.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES If you do need to eradicate a pest from your home or garden and you want to do it the non-chemical way, there are several alternatives available. Cultural and managerial: We need to modify our habits to reduce pest infestations. Eliminate

food, water and shelter sources for insect pests, particularly in your kitchen. Design or redesign your house or garden to include pest-resistant materials. For example, use Australian cypress or steel for house and garden shed frames. Biological control: This is the use of natural predators to control pest species. This may mean laying attractant baits for the target pest only or it may mean building up the numbers of predators or beneficial insects that control the undesirables (for example, you can buy good guys such as ladybird beetles). Mechanical and physical control: This includes things such as vacuuming, trapping (using Dak pots), barriers (such as sawdust to deter snails), heat, steam, cold or physical removal (by hand or under boot).

WHY NON-CHEMICAL? Using a chemical pesticide deemed to be safer or less harmful than another does not automatically mean it’s completely safe. Australia lags a long way behind the United States and parts of Europe in banning or restricting the use of particular chemicals and there are many dangerous substances readily available, even on supermarket shelves. It makes sense to find pest control alternatives that keep the environment safe. Personal safety, too, is very important. And only the pest species you want to get rid of should be targeted with the organic or homemade mixture.

Aphids can attack flowering plants as well as plants in the vegie garden.

NATURAL RECIPES • Pest deterrent recipe: 1 cup of molasses mixed with 1L of warm water. Spray over new foliage. This mixture is great for caterpillars and grasshoppers and can even deter possums safely. • Pest killer recipe 1: Chop 4 large onions, 2 cloves of garlic and 4 hot chillies. Mix them together, cover with warm, soapy water and leave to stand overnight. Strain off the liquid and add it to 5L of water to create an all-purpose insecticide. • Pest killer recipe 2: Crush 1 whole garlic bulb and cover completely with vegetable oil. Leave for about 2 days, strain off the liquid and add 2 drops of dishwashing liquid. This is pretty potent, so add just 1ml of garlic solution (use a dropper) into 1L of water and spray the pest.

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Microgreens are easy to grow and do very well in pots.

Photography by Ger Hynes.



Curly Cress

MICRO MAGIC Potted microgreens are a great gift idea for foodie friends or an easy way to grow salad ingredients


Seeds: Any leafy, green herb or vegetable is ideal. Choose certified-organic seeds as they will not have been chemically treated. Experiment a bit creating mixes of seeds for different flavour and colour combinations. Here are a few triedand-tested favourites: - Rocket - Basil - Coriander - Parsley - Endive - Radish (sprouts will have a lovely, bright-red stem, with green leaves) - Beetroot (bright-red sprouts) - Lettuce - Chervil - Cress You can also buy packets of ready-mixed seed to create gourmet microgreen selections. A spray bottle: Choose one that can deliver a fine mist (you might even like to give this with your gift).



Begin this project at least five days (but no more than seven) before you intend to give it as a gift (if doing so). This will ensure your seeds have sprouted, meaning the recipient is getting more than a pot of seed-raising mix.

Fill two-thirds of your pot or container with seed-raising mix. Evenly sprinkle your seeds over the surface of the seed-raising mix. A generous sprinkle is required but not so much that the seeds are sitting on top of each other. Using a piece of cardboard cut to size, press the seeds lightly into the surface of the seedraising mix. Mist immediately with water, then continue to mist once a day. Position them on a warm, sunny windowsill. If you are giving these as a gift, don’t forget to tell the recipient to water them daily. A little hand-written instruction card is a nice touch.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED Containers: I like to use old teacups, small decorative pots, recycled 100mm pots from the garden or even strawberry punnets. As you only mist microgreens with water and they aren’t growing for long, I’ve found you don’t need to have holes in the container to successfully grow them. Top-quality seed-raising mix: Choose a certified-organic one if you can or make your own.


Radish Photos courtesy of

icrogreens are a foodie phenomenon, with chefs using them like confetti to decorate plates and flavour delicate dishes. But why let the chefs have all the fun? Microgreens are easy to grow and simple to use in your everyday cooking. And you don’t even need a garden to grow them. Microgreens are essentially very young seedlings of edible plants, grown en masse in a small container or pot. Once seeds have sprouted (this can take up to a few weeks) the sprouts will be ready to harvest in another couple of weeks (again, this varies on the seeds being sown). Harvest microgreens by snipping off the leaves as you need them. They are a single-harvest crop so once you’ve harvested all the leaves from your pot, tip the leftover seed-raising mix and roots into your compost. Rinse out your pot and replant. Little pots of sprouted microgreens make excellent Christmas gifts for plant lovers and avid cooks. Here’s how to create them:

Red Beet

Photography by Ger Hynes.

Words: Chloe Thomson

EXPERT TIP If you intend to grow your microgreens on a windowsill, remember to turn the pot or container every day. Otherwise, phototropism [a plant’s natural desire to grow towards the sun) will cause your microgreens’ growth to be lopsided, which is not a good look for a gift.

How much outdoor living could you do?

Find out how to enhance small spaces at



Besser Blocks速




Retaining Walls

inspired living

Old weathered timber sleepers have many uses, including retaining walls.


Think outside the box. Even an old chest of drawers can be turned into a planter.

SECOND TIME AROUND There is no shortage of materials that can be recycled for use in your garden Cut-down pipes can be used as a rustic or industrial style of garden edging.

Words: Karen Booth econd-hand is not secondbest, nor does old mean obsolete. Reusing and recycling materials in the garden can be as much an exercise in creativity as it is in sustainability. And if you know where to source your materials, it can be an exercise in saving money and reducing the burden on landfill.



BRICKING IT Garden designer Georgina Martyn of BoldSimplicity recommends, “If you have unwanted bricks, perhaps from an unused garden path, lift the bricks carefully and then clean and stack them. If the brick colour and texture appeals, think about reusing them as a seat base for a garden bench or, perhaps, a retaining wall with an exposed-face brick. Bricks can also be used as capping or in a new path combined with other materials.”


Building materials (timber, bricks, tiles, pavers) along with fittings and fixtures can be sourced from salvage yards, recycling yards and secondhand dealers. Attend estate sales and garage sales and keep an eye out when you’re driving around for items left out for council pick-ups. If there is a neighbour having some renovations done and you see them putting something in a skip that you can use, ask if you can have it. Ideally, reuse materials sourced from your own property. If you’re pulling up timber decking boards or

old floorboards, can the good ones be used to create a slatted exterior privacy screen, frame a window in a garden wall or build a planter? Bricks from a wall pulled down during a renovation can be used for garden paths or for edging around a pond, for example.

WHY RECYCLED? Aged, weathered timber is often very hard timber, which makes it a sturdy choice for objects such as an arbour or garden bench. Just check with your council if planning to use recycled timber for structural work as you might find you won’t get approval unless you use timber with a structural grading brand. Then there is the aesthetics. There is something very appealing about the patina of rusted metal, old stone or wood that is well seasoned. Consider how many new products are given a rust-effect or “aged” finish to replicate the look of the real deal.

Collect samecoloured bottles and use them to create an interesting screen.

And one more thing: reusing materials and items gives you an opportunity to unleash your creativity, even get a little wild and wacky if you like. All sorts of things (old castiron baths, wine barrels, concrete washing tubs) can be turned into water features or containers for plants. Stone excavated during building work can be used for retaining walls, to create a border for a dry creek bed or simply distributed around the garden as decorative objects and subtle focal points.

Corrugated iron can find new life as an artwork.

REVIVE DON’T REPLACE Sometimes the reuse mantra can be applied to giving something a new lease on life and a fresh outlook, rather than throwing it out and replacing it. There are specially made paints that will transform lacklustre, old concrete paths and pavers, metal or timber furniture, pots, fences, guttering and more. If it’s sturdy, then don’t replace, revive! By the same token, if something is broken, perhaps it doesn’t need to be fixed (or thrown out if it is beyond fixing). Maybe it can become something else. An old treadleoperated Singer sewing machine (minus the sewing machine) can become an outdoor table, old metal watering cans that have sprung leaks can be hung on a garden wall as decor, a lone wagon wheel can be propped in a corner to create a rustic effect, a metal tabletop that has long since lost its legs might make an eye-catching wall plaque … the options are endless. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention” and looking for ways to reuse materials and reduce our carbon footprint when building or decorating our homes and gardens is a necessity … and it’s one that can lead to some very creative outcomes.

A vintage birdcage makes for a stunning planter.

THE MAGIC OF METAL “Engage creative ways to reuse metal in the garden,” says garden designer Georgina Martyn of BoldSimplicity. “Reinforcing mesh mounted to timber posts can be reused to create tall screens for climbing plants. When covered with vegetation, such a structure can screen a water tank or clothesline area. “The same mesh, left to rust, can add interest to a vegetable garden as a low supporting piece for edible climbers, such as snow peas. In a larger garden, think about creating a funky garden maze using vertical wire and mesh covered with edible espaliered plants." Metal objects, such as birdcages, can also find a second life as planters in the home garden.


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Sun drying tomatoes picked from your garden is a satisfying project for the whole family.

a divider between plants. This allows maximum accessibility, is space saving and creates a stunning focal point in your garden design.

SOWING SEEDS Small seeds or the slow-to-germinate varieties are usually best sown in pots for later transplantation. Many different containers can be used for raising seeds. Old egg cartons are perfect, but you can also get more creative by recycling any tub, such as butter or takeaway food containers. The most important thing is to punch holes in the bottom to ensure the seedlings have good soil drainage.

Loofahs left on the vine can be dried to become shower sponges.


GET HANDS-ON Looking for something to do this weekend? Try one of these easy green ideas or fun family projects Words: Erina Starkey

CLEVER COMFREY Is your compost taking too long to break down? The versatile herb comfrey is a great activator. Simply applying the leaves of this nitrogen-rich plant to your compost litter will speed up the decomposition of the less degradable elements. Comfrey can also be used as a great generalpurpose liquid fertiliser. To create your own organic, nutrient-rich fertiliser, soak comfrey Reclaimed cart and wagon wheels can be used to create a herb garden.

leaves in a bucket of water for two to four weeks until it turns black. Strain the leaves out and dilute with additional water to create a potent plant food.

SUN-BAKED VEGIES Gluts of home-grown vegetables can be sun-dried and stored to make delicious, practical snacks and cooking ingredients. Drying racks can be easily constructed from a basic timber frame fitted with flyscreen wire or cheesecloth. Spread sliced fruit or vegetables thinly on the netting, skin-side down, and ensure they are adequately spaced to allow air to flow between each piece. Leave in the sun anywhere from one day to two weeks, depending on the result you want. Alternatively, you can dry them in a low-temperature oven.

HERB WHEELS In the Victorian era when cart and wagon wheels were plentiful, they were often recycled in the garden bed. Use a reclaimed wheel to provide a framework for a little garden bed — a herb garden is perfect, with the spokes of the wheel forming


Loofah, or luffa, is a climbing vegetable from the cucumber family, popular in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. If consuming, it should be eaten young but if you do leave it on the vine until the end of the season, you can create a loofah shower sponge. When the loofah has turned a dark shade of yellow or brown and has become lightweight and dry, it’s ready for harvesting and sponge making. Carefully peel away all traces of skin and shake the seeds out, banging on the floor if necessary. Apply water pressure from a hose to remove the sap, which also removes remaining seeds. Squeeze out excess water and allow the loofah to dry in the sun, rotating as needed. The sun drying will lighten the loofah to a creamy colour; the longer you leave it in the sun, the coarser its texture will become.

DANDELION TEA When ridding your garden of pesky dandelion weeds, keep the roots to make a nutritious tea. Once the plant has been pulled out, thoroughly clean the roots and chop them into pieces. Dry them in the oven and, once cooled, smash them into smaller pieces using a mortar and pestle. When in need of a pick-me-up or digestive aid, place the dried dandelion roots in a tea infuser, then into hot water until the desired strength is reached. You can also add cinnamon, cloves, honey or nutmeg for a richer, spicier tea.

TOP TIP When buying plants at your local garden centre, don’t be afraid to pull the plants out of their pots (by gently holding the stem) to check root health. If a plant has severely matted or tangled roots (root bound), it can be slow to acclimatise when planted out. Roots should be firm, white or silvery, not mushy or dry brown.



Strawberries are very easy to grow and fun for the children to harvest and eat.



Growing their own delicious fruits and vegetables is the best way to get children interested and involved in gardening. Strawberries make a great plant for kids to start with and you can even let them choose their own pot and decorate it. Strawberries are easy to grow and children find them delicious. It’s a great way to encourage the next generation into the healthy habit of growing, picking and eating their own home-grown food.

A touch of blackboard paint is ideal for creating beautiful, practical plant labels — and it can be applied to just about anything, even pots. Just make sure to use a blackboard paint that is formulated for exterior use. You can buy chalk pens or liquid chalk markers in various colours and sizes. These give you greater control when writing and they won’t fade or vanish when the garden or potted plants are watered.

Blackboard plant labels add a little charm. Photo courtesy of

Alphonse Karr




Nepalese Blue

Bamboo Creations Nursery has the most diverse bamboo range in Melbourne Bamboo Creations Nursery offers a huge range of bamboo for commercial landscapers and home gardeners. Clumping bamboo comes in various colours and heights to suit your requirements with very little maintenance once established. Bamboo can be grown as a quick hedge, a beautiful ornamental, or as an amazing living screen. All our products are locally grown and have been tested for Melbourne’s extreme conditions. With your creative ideas and our design expertise, together we can make your garden look truly magical.

Check out our website for nursery opening times and the events that we attend. 50 Meadowbrook Way, Riddells Creek, Melbourne, Victoria p. 1300 654 454 m. 0411 465 652 e.


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Photography by Grady James.

Straw-bale gardening is the ultimate in no-dig gardening and is ideal for herbs and vegies.

BOUNTY OF BALES For a cheap way to garden above ground, straw bales are a handy solution Words: Diane Norris ith its many and varied uses, including mulching, composting and more, straw is a useful commodity in the organic garden. Straw bale is preferable to hay, particularly lucerne hay, because hay bales are likely to contain weed and grass seeds. When buying straw bale, check that it’s tight and held together with two or three strands of plastic baling twine. It should look clean and fresh and not smell mouldy. Below are some tips for effective straw-bale gardening.


MULCHING WITH STRAW Straw can be used to blanket-mulch garden beds, particularly in the edible garden. Keeping in moisture is one advantage, but the straw also attracts beneficial creatures — the tiny earthliving organisms that are vital to soil health. You can “pat” biscuits of straw (the individual sections) onto the soil surface and it may take eight to nine months to weather, partially


decompose and become greyish. When straw layering in a garden, the top layer is surface mulch, the next layers become compost and the final layer, which is the thinnest, becomes really crumbly and is where microorganisms and worms live, their castings providing rich nutrients to plant roots. Mulching with straw actually provides three different grades or layers of organic material from just one bale. And, of course, if you can source straw from horse stables, it has the added bonus of aged manure — but watch for weeds sprouting.

STRAW-BALE GARDENING Put simply, the idea of straw-bale gardening is to make a garden bed within a bale of straw. In other words, the straw bale becomes the garden pot or container and you can have just one bale or many. This is a great gardening method and particularly suitable for raising vegetables or herbs. Straw bales from wheat, oats, rye, barley or other cereals are suitable for making a garden bed, and organic bales are

sometimes available and worth sourcing. Straw bales can be arranged anywhere and in any shape based on available space, type of plants you want to grow and the permanency of the garden. Also consider ease of maintenance, row width, sun exposure and access to water when designing your straw-bale garden space. Measure and work out how many straw bales you will need to construct your garden. Of course, modifications to this can obviously be made as you go. The advantages of straw-bale gardening are: Bales are about 350mm tall, 450mm wide and 900mm long — a perfect “pot” size and one that

EXPERT TIP As a good rule of thumb to keep worms happy, use barley straw when mulching. Surface mulching the whole garden can turn it into a “worm farm”, with 50–80 worms per square metre.


Place the bale (or each bale if using more than one) so that the baling twine is parallel to the ground (that is, smooth straw is on the side of the garden bed) and exactly where it is to go.



Days 1–3. Water each new bale thoroughly and keep wet for three days. It’s very important to keep each bale moist as part of the conditioning process. The bale will become very heavy when wet, so it’s imperative it’s placed where you want it before you start watering. As the inside of each bale begins to decompose, it will start to warm up and can become quite hot.


Days 4–6. Sprinkle the top of each bale with one cup of organic fertiliser, such as pelletised chicken manure, and water in well. Do this for the next three days. Days 7-9. For the following three days, add just a half a cup of fertiliser to each bale and ease off the watering, as you don’t want the nutrient content to leach from the well-moistened bales.

Day 10–11. Stop adding fertiliser but check that each bale is moist but not over-wet. Feel the top and insides of each bale. If it is still hot, keep checking until it becomes cooler — around body temperature, or 37°C. This could take a couple of days. Water only if needed.

As the plants grow, be sure to add nutrient-rich homemade compost or aged manure.

allows easy accessibility for gardeners who have difficulty bending over. Straw-bale gardening is a true no-dig gardening method. No digging or soil preparation is required because each bale becomes its own self-contained garden. If using more than one bale, they can be arranged in any shape and over any surface. Straw bales can be placed on concrete, paving and hard or rocky ground. The bales are not permanent and can be easily removed at the end of the growing season or left in place until they start deteriorating. Used bales can be reused as mulch, added to a compost pile or spread on the ground to enrich the soil. Straw bales are a very inexpensive way to create raised beds for gardening. Local nurseries or large garden centres may have straw bales, while farm/produce stores do indeed carry them.



Photography by Diane Norris.


TENDING YOUR GARDEN Having built your straw-bale garden bed, you now need to tend to it and the plants growing within it. These are the key steps you need to follow: Watering: This is the most vital consideration as water leaches from straw-bale gardens quite quickly, so make sure the straw doesn’t dry out. Water each bale in the cool of the morning or evening. A drip irrigation line or soaker hose system can be installed and set on a timer to make sure the garden is watered regularly. Add compost around each plant to hold in moisture, and a foliar application of organic seaweed extract is beneficial, following the instructions on the packaging for maximum effect. Fertilising: Nitrogen deficiency can be a problem for straw-bale beds because the microbes use nitrogen to break down the bale and some nutrients are lost from leaching. The older leaves of plants start to turn yellow or purple if there is a nutrient deficiency. Nutrient deficiency can be rectified by adding an organic fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium throughout the growing period. Better still, add aged manure, homemade compost, worm juice or blood and bone to each plant in the bale as plants grow. Volcanic rock dust will also help balance minerals.

Photography by Grady James.

SAFETY FIRST When using straw, whether in whole bales or by the biscuit, use a dust mask. This might seem extreme but some bales are dusty while others may contain spores, especially if damp, wet or mouldy, and the fungi spores can be dislodged and breathed in, causing irritation, discomfort or infection.


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PLANTING METHODS Straw bales should be ready for planting three to four weeks after conditioning begins. There are two ways to plant the bales: make holes in which to plant your edibles or create a garden bed on top of each bale.

Photography by Diane Norris.


Pocket method: Create holes or pockets about 7–10cm deep. Do this with your hand, loosening and removing a small amount of the straw. Fill each hole with organic compost or potting mix. The number of

“pocket pots” will vary, depending on what crops you intend to grow and the spacing needed for those crops. Water each pocket lightly.


Flat straw-bed method: Create a flat garden bed on top of the bale by spreading a soil/compost/aged-manure mix on top of each bale — up to 10cm deep is good. Work this growing medium into the straw in readiness for planting. Using a watering can or gentle hose spray, lightly moisten the whole surface, being careful not to dislodge the soil.

Weeding: One of the benefits of straw-bale gardens is that they are relatively weed free. But if weeds do sprout, simply pull them carefully from the bale by hand. Insect control: Ground-dwelling insects will be less of a problem in straw-bale gardens because the bales elevate the plants above ground level, which helps prevent earthdwelling insects from attacking. Also, the lifecycle of some pest insects is disrupted


You can plant either style of straw-bale garden using seeds or transplanting out seedlings. The benefit of using seeds is it allows the germinating seeds to send down and form excellent roots. The number of plants per bale depends on the growth habit — that is, spread and height — of the edibles being planted.

because the bales are used for only one season. Still, keep an eye out for insect attack and if a pest is found among the edibles, squash or organically control. Bales will usually last for only one growing season — sometimes two at a stretch. Recycle exhausted bales by using them as mulch in garden beds, loosening them up and adding to the compost pile or working the rotted straw into the soil with a garden fork.

EXPERT TIP Because compost and organic fertilisers release nutrients slowly, they are most beneficial when added at the time of planting. Foliar application of micronutrients can also be an alternative way to ensure balanced nutrition in bale gardens.









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GOING TO POT Making biodegradable starter pots is a fun weekend activity for all the family WORDS & PHOTOS: Diane Norris ow many pots does a gardener use each year, particularly if propagating or raising seedlings? Lots! Small plastic pots are functional and simple but you might like to try making your own biodegradable pots. They are cheap, easy to make as well as a great recycling and environmental initiative. Just imagine pots that can be planted into the ground, along with their growing cargo that will, as time passes, disintegrate into the soil. It’s a really wonderful concept using old newspapers and toilet rolls to make pots. You’re recycling wisely, saving money, not using plastic, adding texture to the soil and ensuring the delicate roots of the seedlings remain undisturbed at the time of planting. Here are some of the tried-and-tested methods for making biodegradable pots but before you make a start, if you have children, why not ask them if they would like to help? This is a great way to get little ones interested in gardening and teach them, in a fun way, about how plants grow.





1 Cut rolls If you want tiny pots, cut each cardboard toilet roll in half. If doing so, you will get two planters from each tube. We thought these were too small so created one pot from each empty toilet roll.




WHAT YOU NEED FOR TOILET-ROLL POTS Empty cardboard toilet rolls (you’ll need lots, • Seeds, seedlings or cuttings so start saving them!) • Tray or pot saucer to hold the • Sharp scissors toilet-roll pots • Potting mix, compost or seed-raising mix

7 Soil and seeds Fill the roll planters with compost or soil mix. Press into the tube firmly with your fingers. To keep upright and stable, it’s a good idea to put the new roll pots in a seed tray or box so they get support from each other. Put one seed or seedling into the soil mix, then cover with more mix and water. It’s a good idea to label each tube so you know what is growing!

8 Create base Fold the four flaps in, one after the other, firmly to form the base of each pot.


Grown seedling Within weeks, the growing seedlings will be ready to plant out into the garden.

9 Mark with scissors If you intend on making dozens of pots, mark with scissors 2cm from the tip so cutting the flaps (step 3) is accurate, faster and easier.


Sturdy base To make the base sturdy, after the four flaps are folded down, insert the fourth one under the first to form a firm, overlapped base. You do not need to use tape or staples. Once the tubes are filled with soil and watered, the weight will keep the base closed.

Roll and all The roll pot is biodegradable. Do not remove the seedling from the roll, simply plant the roll pot, containing the plant, straight into the garden.

6 10

Snip flaps Take the empty toilet roll and make four slits, about 2cms long, around one end of the cardboard tube. This will create four flaps. Cut the slits roughly equidistantly around the roll.

Standing steady With just one finger, gently lean on the base to push it in very slightly. This will make the little roll pot stand up steadily.

Cover the lip Gently move soil around the top of the roll pot and water in well.



Of course, you can use milk cartons too. Look for Pauls Pure Organic milk. Apart from containing flavoursome organic milk, the cartons are made from paperboard sourced from managed forests and there are simple instructions on the carton explain how to make a seed starter pot. When making milk carton pots, don’t forget to put at least three drainage holes in the bottom.

When you next grab a takeaway coffee, note whether it’s in a BioCup, which is compostable and biodegradable. A BioCup makes a great starter pot. Simply pierce a few drainage holes in the bottom, fill with potting mix, pop in a seed or seedling and plant into the garden. You can plant both seedling and pot together as the cup will dissolve into the soil.


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WHAT YOU NEED FOR NEWSPAPER POTS Template: Use a jar or drinking glass the size of the pots you want to make (we used a 9.5cm-tall x 8cm-diameter glass). You can use a plastic plant pot as it is flexible and easier to remove from the newspaper (see step 4)

Newspapers Organic compost/potting mix (or seedraising mix if using seeds) Seeds and/or seedlings Box or seed tray





Fill with mix Fill the newspaper pot with organic compost, potting mix or seed-raising mix. You can grow from seeds or use seedlings. It’s a good idea to store these in a seed tray or box as they become limp with watering.

8 Organise newspapers The newspaper strip needs to be wider than the template so you can fold it around the bottom to make a firm base. It also needs to be longer than the circumference of the template so you can overlap the ends to make the newspaper pot sturdy. We simply folded a double page in half for ease and added strength.

Remove template To form the base of the pot, flip it over and remove the template carefully while still keeping the pot’s shape.

5 2

Wrap template Align the template with the newspaper. Roll the template in the newspaper. Do this evenly but not tightly. The newspaper must not tear as you need to remove the template with ease after rolling.


Tuck in the top Push the sides of the newspaper that are above the top of the template gently to the inside so they are firmly wrapped around the lip of the template. A good crease over the top of will create a nice pot base.


Firm base Invert the template and insert it into the almost completed newspaper pot. Reinforce the base of the pot by stamping it up and down firmly to seal the paper bottom.


Bio-pot ready Remove the template from the pot — it is now finished!

Ready to plant Within weeks, your seedlings will be ready to transplant into the garden.


Into the ground Plant out the newspaper pot containing the seedling straight into the ground. Do not remove the plant from the newspaper pot. Handle delicately as the paper will be damp and soft. The newspaper pot will quickly disintegrate into the soil.


Cover softly The newspaper lip can tenderly, with fingertips, be permeated into the garden soil. Water in the seedling well.

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GREEN ZEBRA This tomato produces yellow stripes to let you know it’s ripe.


No fruit and vegie garden is complete without a good crop of tasty heirloom tomatoes ome of my earliest childhood memories are of sneaking out into our family vegie patch to munch on vine-ripened tomatoes. I just couldn’t believe my luck: little bursts of sweetness right at my tiny fingertips and no one there to stop me. Little did I know it was my parents’ way of enticing me to eat my fruit and vegies. The nameless variety we grew that was handed down from my grandparents was a wild-looking vine that was smothered from root to tip with tiny, sweet, red fruit and had to be firmly staked to keep it from taking over the whole garden. It’s still one of the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.


PARENT TO CHILD I love the idea that fruit and vegetables can become part of our heritage; that my son will be able to grow the same flavoursome varieties as I do and that they’ll evoke the same sweet memories of his childhood. Preserving this heritage is just one of the reasons I like to grow heirloom tomatoes. Not only does their extraordinary range of colours and flavours bring diversity to the garden and kitchen, but these varieties have been grown for decades, often centuries, and have been passed down from generation to generation


because they have something incredible to offer, be it exceptional flavour, a long cropping season or versatility on the plate. For me, tomatoes exemplify the best of summer. Every spring, I experiment by planting a new, or should I say old, variety of tomato and every summer I wait impatiently for the results. Last year, it was ‘Black Cherry’, which the seed packet promised would guarantee “burst-inthe-mouth sweetness”. Boy, did it deliver. We got months and months of dark-purple, cherrystyle fruit that brought new life to my heirloom tomato salad.

UNEARTHING HEIRLOOMS This spring just gone, I planted ‘Aunt Ruby’s Green’ tomatoes for the first time. From the pictures I’ve seen, it’s a spectacular choice, a big beefsteak tomato that’s green when ripe and, when you slice it down the middle, the flesh can be almost rainbow coloured. I want to see if it stacks up in flavour to my all-time favourite, ‘Green Zebra’, which has green-and-yellowstriped fruit with a lovely tangy bite to it. As this goes to print, I’m still eagerly waiting to taste the first ‘Aunt Ruby’s Green’, so stay tuned. Every day, someone somewhere delves deeper into our crop-growing past and reintroduces a tomato that may be new to us but has actually been around for so long that someone’s great-

grandma grew it. Tomato ‘Big Rainbow’ is one such variety that intrigues me. As the name suggests, it has flesh that changes from green to yellow, red and pink, so it would really add some pizzazz to the plate. You can expect a whopping 18kg of fruit per plant. That’s one thing you can always rely on with heirloom tomatoes: a bucket load of fruit to eat, preserve and share with your family.

ROOM FOR FAVOURITES There are some varieties that, regardless of how many new things I want to try, always find a place in my patch. ‘Tommy Toe’ is one of those. While not as unusual or decorative to look at as some heirlooms, it is still tops for taste in my book. It’s a larger, cherry-style, red tomato but still small enough to pop into your mouth whole. I can tell

HARVESTING Restaurants tend to make a big deal about having vine-ripened tomatoes on their menus because waiting for the crop to change colour on the plant before picking maximises sweetness. If leaving them on the vine is too much temptation for the birds, try growing green varieties, which are less attractive to our feathered friends, or pick them a little early and allow them to ripen off the bush.

Photos courtesy of The Diggers Club, supplier of heirloom seeds:

Words: Melissa King


BLACK CHERRY The purple-black flesh of this tomato is sweet and juicy.

SEED SAVING Want to save yourself a buck and enjoy the same great tomatoes next year? Try saving the seed from heirloom varieties. Simply scrape the seeds from a few ripe tomatoes into a container and add enough water to wet them. Allow the mixture to ferment for a few days until it develops a skin or mould on top, then wash the mixture through a fine sieve and spread the tiny seeds out onto a piece of paper towel to dry. Store the dried seed in a sealed jar in a cool, dry spot for planting next spring.

Beam’s yellow pear

Bbig rainbow



you that this one is so good straight from the vine that it’s a miracle if it makes it to the salad bowl. I like to include as many different colours of tomato as possible, so I always make room for a few ‘Lemon Drop’ plants. This is a tiny, yellow variety with a lovely zing to the fruit. ‘Beam’s Yellow Pear’ is another tasty candidate whose name says it all. The yellow, pear-shaped fruit has a wonderful flavour and isn’t at all floury like some you taste in the shops. With a patch that is full to the brim and my tomatoes ripening up nicely, I’m now left to ponder how I will use this year’s harvest in the kitchen and which new-old varieties I will be getting in the garden this spring.



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FEELING CHIPPER Mulching is a great way to reuse existing green materials, such as prunings, to promote healthy growth in the garden. Enter Rover’s 5cm Chipper shredder unit, which will help you make an easy meal out of all your unwanted branches and debris. With its 205cc Briggs & Stratton engine, two chromium steel chipper blades and 12 replaceable cast-steel flares, Rover’s 5cm Chipper shredder is durable and high performing. The 5cm Chipper shredder has a reduction ratio of 10:1 converting all your offcuts and debris into easily reusable mulch, and the bushel collection bag makes redistribution back into the garden a breeze.

CAN YOU DIG IT? Digging holes in the garden can be a daunting task if you don’t have the right equipment. Fiskar’s QuikDrill features two optimally angled boron-steel blades secured around a sharp soil-piercing drill spike to easily breach the surface and avoid jamming as the tool digs deeper into the top soil. QuikDrill includes three interchangeable fixed blade options: 100mm blades for planting bulbs, aerating/fertilising soil and installing small posts; 150mm blades for perennial planting, mixing compost and installing medium-sized posts; and 200mm blades for planting hedges and trees, drilling compost holes and installing larger diameter posts.


Stuff VERTICAL ADVANTAGE The PAPS vertical garden system is ideal for balconies, courtyards, decks or even larger backyards. The system comprises a slimline frame and pots, which simply hook on and off the frame. You can choose between a free-standing frame (1500mm high, 600mm wide and 300mm deep) or a wallmounted frame (1320mm high, 600mm wide and 250mm deep), which comes pre-drilled. Both frames are powder-coated, hold 18 pots and, at your request, can be fitted with a simple drip irrigation system that waters from the top down. Designed to suit a large range of plants, the recyclable, UVstabilised pots come in boxes of 10.


THE BEST CUT Cyclone’s new Sculpt range of hedge shears and loppers features the company’s patented “transitional profile handle”. Designed to deliver maximum cutting power, the aluminium handles are oval shaped near the pivots and cutting blades, and the soft-touch grip ends are tapered to a tri-oval shape that is said to distribute pressure to the palms more evenly. The Sculpt range is comprised of hedge shears, Telescopic Wavy edge shears, a Compound Bypass lopper, a Ratchet Anvil lopper and a Telescopic Ratchet Bypass lopper. Sculpt hedge shears and loppers, easy to identify by their bright-green handles, are exclusively sold at Bunnings.


TEST YOUR METAL If you are after great-looking edging or you want to establish some raised planters to blend in with your overall garden design, you really can’t go past the FormBoss Corten steel option. With profiles from 75mm to 580mm, they come with a round top edge of 6–7mm for strength and safety. You can custom-order any shape or size you like. In fact, you can actually shape these edges on-site to create a truly unique-looking garden with different levels. The FormBoss edging system has a range of stakes to support the edging to make it suit any application. If you don’t like the rustic look, there is also a shiny alternative in the ZAM steel. And for peace of mind, FormBoss is made in Australia.

POWER APPROACH Seasol introduces a new product to its organic range with PowerFeed ORGANIC. This premium certifiedorganic fish fertiliser is suitable for all plants, including edible crops, flowering plants and natives. PowerFeed ORGANIC is a fast-acting liquid that goes to work immediately, whether applied to the foliage or the soil. This ensures the maximum amount of natural nutrients, vitamins, proteins, amino acids and trace elements to sustain healthy, productive growth. The dual effect of PowerFeed ORGANIC naturally conditions the soil through its highly active liquid compost. This helps to break up clay soil, reduce nutrient loss in sandy soil and make nutrients easily available to all plants.

IT'S A CLASSIC SPLASH OF RED In search of a plant that will add a splash of vibrant colour? You can’t go past Flower Carpet Red. This plant just keeps on blooming (for up to 10 months of the year), starting mid-spring when clusters of deep-red flowers accented by brilliant golden-yellow stamens erupt all over the bush. A true easy-care groundcover rose, Flower Carpet Red is simple to grow and a breeze to maintain, requiring no spraying in the landscape. Simply cut back to one-third its size once in late winter or early spring. Flower Carpet Red has superlative disease-resistance to common rose blights such as black spot and mildew.

To add a little formal flair to a garden bed or pot, a simple topiary cone is the way to go. With the Burgon & Ball cone frame, you can take shrubs such as English box or Australian native lilly pillies and turn them into a classical conical-shaped topiary. The frames are made of galvanised wire and are hinged so they can be easily fitted around established plants and/or removed after trimming has taken place. Each frame is 60cm high and 30cm in diameter at the base, and comes with 15cm pegs to secure firmly into the ground around the plant. Burgon & Ball also offers spring-action Classic Topiary trimming shears, which will give you a clean, neat result.


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WATER-SMART, ECO-SAVVY No matter how water-wise your garden is, there will still be parts that require careful watering, the vegetable plot, the greenhouse, seedlings, pot plants, vertical gardens ... WaterWand sells a range of irrigation pumps that are perfect for all these jobs. The Irrigatia pumps are solar-powered and will use any clean, non-pressurised water source, making them completely independent of mains power and water. The unit turns itself on every three hours and delivers more water in sunny conditions and less when it’s grey and raining, so your plants get what they need with no waste — and no carbon pollution.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE When working outdoors, whether you choose music from the radio or from your mobile devices, the PRA MultiPower radio from Bosch is super convenient to use. The controls on the front of the radio are easy to handle, while the digital display shows the time, radio frequency, connection to external players via aux-in port or Bluetooth, and the battery level. The robust housing with three handles on the radio’s edges protects the display, the controls and the flexible antenna from damage. Super compact, the triangular shape makes the radio easy to carry thanks to the handles on each of the tool’s edges.

REEL IT IN Much has been written over the last few years about the ever-shrinking Australian garden. While rapid growth in apartment living and townhouse accommodation has meant that fewer of us need to rush out and buy a ride-on lawnmower, it has not dented our love of tending to that patch of the great outdoors — no matter how large or small. Pope Products is keeping one step ahead of this growing trend with its new Small Garden Hose reel. Highly compact and portable, this new product can be wall mounted and comes complete with a tap-to-reel connector, plus all the fittings to get you started.



THE TIMBER ALTERNATIVE Knotwood screening is made from high-quality Australian aluminium, is finished to look just like wood and comes in more than 30 realistic timber-look colours, giving you the warm appearance of timber without any of the drawbacks of natural wood. Knotwood is not only extremely low maintenance, it is very easy to work with, cutting labour time and costs, and you won’t ever have to paint, stain or oil it. You also have the peace of mind that comes with the provision of a 15-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The cold and damp of winter can leave courtyards, driveways and verandahs covered in moss, mould and general grottiness. Not a good look when visitors arrive for the first barbecue of the season or pre-Christmas celebration. A pressure washer can make quick, easy work of cleaning all outdoor surfaces. Briggs & Stratton’s pressure washers deliver up to 75 times more power than an ordinary garden hose, while using up to 80 per cent less water. The trick is to adjust the spray according to what you need to clean. A wider spray is less intense, and for areas with stubborn stains, a cleaning detergent or a narrower spray will effectively blast it clean.


MAKE IT GROW Nutrient-enriched soil enables healthy plants to produce more leaves, more flowers and more nourishing fruit and vegetables. Terra Firma Fertilisers’ products contain a diverse range of beneficial live soil microbes supported by a wide variety of minerals and organic microbe foods. This supplies plants with various sources of organic carbon and minerals, stimulating an abundance of soil life that feeds, protects and strengthens plants, supporting them through seasonal challenges and environmental stresses. Terra Firma’s organically certified Organic Life includes four forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium, three forms of potassium and two types of sulphur and silicon.

TIME TO SWING If you want to encourage small birds into your garden, take a look around your backyard for a place to hang a bird feeder. Search out a wellprotected spot that is high enough off the ground to keep the birds safe from predators. There are plenty of bird feeders you can buy online, with the Swing Time from The Design Gift Shop just one of the many fun and attractive options. Made of ceramic, the feeder is designed to look like an old-fashioned tyre swing. It has two drainage holes, measures 14cm in diameter and has walls that are 5cm thick. The rope is 180cm long.

OUT OF SIGHT Any time is a great time for a tidy up, and the Keter Store-It-Out XL outdoor storage cabinet is an excellent way to rid your garden or garage of clutter. The cabinet is big enough to keep two 240L wheelie bins out of sight or house garden accessories such as a lawn mower, spare chairs, barbecue equipment or sporting gear. Manufactured from UV-stabilised, injection-moulded plastic poly resin, this easy-toassemble outdoor storage unit is 1.6m wide, 90cm deep and 1.19m high. Ventilated, weather resistant, lockable and featuring gas struts for easy lid opening, the Store-It-Out XL comes with a two-year warranty.







p: 0417 252 622 e:


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DIRECTORY Phone: 02 4966 8760 Email:

For your nearest stockist please contact swifts

From farm to garden

Give the bees a leg up, pollinators prefer healthy plants With over a ¼ million systems sold, we have the solution! 126 | BACKYARD

Nutrient delivery systems



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Riverina Shade Solutions 3685 Sturt Highway, Gumly Gumly NSW 2652 P E

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Gorgeous outdoor lights 137 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, Sydney, NSW 2065 t. 02 9436 4516 f. 02 9906 2667 e.






ica al-fr free ee backyard bac acky kyar ky ard ar d with with superb Experience a chemical-free food, shrubs, lawns and flowers. The farmers’ secret is out. Next-generation organic fertilisers, previously reserved for large scale agricultural enterprises, are now available to all.

Visit and use the promo code ‘goodorganic’ to receive 20% off* *limited time only. While stocks last


Outdoor Artwork Stylish and Practical


Weathervanes • Windsocks • Sun Dials • Model Windmills • Water Pumps • Gate & Fence Panels

To advertise in the new-look Backyard magazine, call Miriam Keen on (02) 9887 0604 Email:

View the entire Glenview range online at For more information call Bob on 02 9449 9892


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index DESIGNER GARDENS — WHO TO CONTACT It's only natural (page 24) Ian Barker Gardens Heaven on earth (page 28) Peter Fudge Gardens Budwise Garden Design To The Mil Simple pleasures (page 34) Sitedesign + Studios Red, white and blue (page 40) Lisa Ellis Gardens Hamilton Landscapes


Adbri Masonry ........................ 107 Anthony Tesselaar ...............85, 97 Australian Institute of Landscape Designers & Managers .......... 115 Bali House & Garden................ 19 Bamboo Creations .................. 111 Bamboo Habitat ...................71, 96 Boral ......................................... 77 Branat Designs ......................... 88 Doggierescue .......................... 101 Dunn & Farrugia .................... 109 Ecodesign ............................... 128

Now and then (page 46) Jane Jones Landscapes Hidden treasure (page 50) Bates Landscape Natural attraction (page 56) Imperial Gardens Landscape


EZ-FLO Fertilising .................. 126 Futurewood ..........................63, 92 Glenview Products .................. 129 House of Bamboo ....................... 6 Infinity Panels ....................85, 100 Knotwood .............................65, 91 Lifestyle BBQs .......................... 45 Membranes Australia ............. 105 Menai Sand & Soil .................... 75 Nutri-Tech Solutions .............. 129 PAPS Vertical Gardens ........69, 90 Permathene ................................ 2

Pope Products .......................... 13 Riverina Shade Solutions ....... 127 Rivers Edge Turf ..................83, 98 Rolaway Underground Hose .. 125 Sapphire Turf ...............81, 94, 132 Swifts Outdoor Furniture........ 126 Terra Firma (Aust) .................. 127 3D Sails ................................ 5, 99 The Light Site.......................... 128 The Melbourne Fire Brick Company ..............................15, 93 Urban Design Systems ........... 131

Urban Design Systems’ laser cut concepts can add that extra dimension of texture, colour and design to your project, whether for your home interior, courtyard, balcony or garden landscape. Visit our website to view more screens and products, or call to visit our showroom courtyard




%XIIDORLQVKDGH *This has been proven by research data from Horticulture Australia and the Department of Primary Industries Queensland (DPI QLD).


Issue#13.4 2015  

Welcome to the new-look Backyard — a magazine for those who don’t just dream of an amazing garden and a fantastic outdoor lifestyle, they’re...

Issue#13.4 2015  

Welcome to the new-look Backyard — a magazine for those who don’t just dream of an amazing garden and a fantastic outdoor lifestyle, they’re...