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ideasoutside love your outdoor space, too!

170 Before & after

Garden designer Adam Robinson helps a Sydney family transform their neglected backyard into the perfect outdoor living space

Beachy living A couple update the garden to their beachside weatherboard cottage to reflect the inside of their house. Turn the page to see the results. real living


writer natalie walton | photography natalie hunfalvay | styling adam robinson

apple crate = good ergonomic heightng egies


a s ta lg a r d e n

The garden of a beachside weatherboard cottage is brought up to date with clever design ideas after Layered look An Agave attenuata or century plant adds texture and interest to the decking steps and Himalayan pavers.



how to maintain a coastal garden

Here’s what to do with the plants featured in this garden: Agave attenuata or century plant There’s not a lot you can do to kill one of these, especially if it’s in a sunny position. However, if you need to transplant – the smaller varieties tend to multiply – use a knife to sever the baby agave with its roots still attached. Replant in soil that has a hole as deep and wide as the root ball. Water and watch it grow. Olive trees Once established they are drought-resistant so do not over-water. Just make sure the root ball stays moist. Prune in spring. Benefits from repotting every couple of years. Magnolia grandiflora or ‘Little Gem’ Once established in full sun or partial shade, keep the soil well drained. Benefits from a deep soak after long dry periods. To promote new growth and more flowers, remove seed heads after flowering. To create a fuller tree, prune the tallest vertical branches to encourage outward growth.


Top tip “Gardens are only as good as their maintenance,” says garden designer and stylist Adam Robinson of

Formal & fusty The garden entertaining area was set too far from the rear of the house. High hedges provided privacy but there was little other texture or interest in the space.

When Dave Gold and Yael Stern bought a weatherboard cottage in Sydney’s Fairlight in 1999 they grabbed a bargain. But also a lot of work. Two years later the house underwent a partial renovation. However, they waited until 2008 before they tackled the outdated garden. When they bought the property it came with a formal garden, and included buxus and Murraya hedges. These not only looked out of place in the relaxed beachside suburb but they had also been neglected over the years.

where to start...

after Outdoor room Sienna and Jasper enjoy one of the family entertaining areas. The Good One stools and Jill coffee table are from The cushions are custom-made by

The couple wanted a contemporary coastal meets Mediterranean garden. It was important that it was in keeping with the interior design scheme, which had been created by Yael, who worked for many years as a graphic designer. Inside the home she worked towards a relaxed and beachy vibe. The walls were shades of white and grey, and the floors had been stripped back to a sand colour. Unsure of how to translate this outside, they called on Adam Robinson of Adam Robinson Design ( real living


To create several areas that could be used by the family, as well as add visual interest, different layers were built into the garden. A variety of materials, including stained wood, stone and tiles all add to the interest, too.

photography tony amos

free to roam = happy & healthy hens

ideasoutside the brief

While the couple didn’t know how to bring their needs to life, they did have a list of requirements for the garden. They wanted to create: * A feeling of tranquillity and give the garden a coastal vibe. * A seamless transition between indoors and out. * Several family retreat areas. * A neutral and harmonious colour paint scheme for the exterior.

the approach Previously, a verandah extended off the rear of the house and a set of six steps led down to a lower lawn garden. This was surrounded by lattice fences and high hedges. A seating area was tucked around a corner. The main idea behind Adam’s design was to raise the overall outdoor space. “The levels of the garden were brought up closer to the height of the current deck, ensuring a better relationship to the inside,” Adam says. Step one involved removing the verandah fence, balustrade and staircase. To create several areas that could be used by the family, as well as add visual interest, Adam built a series of layers into the garden. Three steps lead down to a platform, where there is a living room-like arrangement, which leads to three more steps and a dining setting. A variety of materials, including stained wood, stone and tiles all add to the interest, too.

casual charm

To create a garden that was in keeping with its coastal locale as well as easy to maintain, Adam introduced a combination of tropical plants and also Mediterranean varieties, such as olive trees. “A mixture of trees, shrubs and groundcover plants give the small garden areas the illusion of appearing larger than they really are,” he says. Adam also added a bubbling water feature and a feature wall of retro breeze (besser) blocks.

colour connection after Fave feature The breeze block wall is one of the couple’s favourite features of their garden. It is flanked by an Olea europaea olive tree. Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’ Slender Weavers bamboo provides a screen on the far wall.

For a casual look, colours outside have been kept neutral and shine-free. Adam says a hint of charcoal was selected for a level of sophistication. “It also worked beautifully with the Himalayan paving and soft plant selection.” The fences are painted in Dulux “Jasper” 1½ strength so that the boundaries recede as well as allowing the plants to pop. real living


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Ideas Outside Real Living Magazine  

Ideas Outside Real Living Magazine