Thursday, 15 January 2015 23:21

Back To Nature

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Back To Nature

Your backyard doesn’t have to be a concrete jungle – with a little thought and planning, it can resemble a naturally-occurring haven. Lara Bailey explores the ways to craft an outdoor space that is a true natural beauty.

While sleek outdoor spaces with infinity-edge pools and feature-packed kitchens may be the design du jour, embracing an aesthetic at the other end of the scale can be equally appealing. If you like your designs down to earth, creating an outdoor space that mimics nature could be the right choice for you.

A natural-looking outdoor space can be created a number of ways, from a non-linear pool andan earthy palette through to abundant foliage and the inclusion of rock and trickling water.

To help you get started, here is Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design’s guide to creating an outdoor space that looks like it was crafted by Mother Nature herself.


If you include a pool in your outdoor design, it will no doubt become the focal point of the space. Fortunately, with a nature-inspired design, incorporating a suitable pool isn’t a problem.

With their naturalistic curvature and endless design options, freeform pools are ideally suited to designs of this nature. Reminiscent of a tropical lagoon, the free-flowing look of a
freeform pool will bring a touch of the exotic to any suburban property.

From the conventional kidney shape right through to custom creations with numerous arcs, freeform designs are the ultimate in nature- inspired chic. Without a geometric line in sight, a freeform pool will set the scene for your space.

If you’re even more committed to a natural theme, you could opt for a swim pond (also known as a ‘natural pool’). Comprised of two adjoining pools – one for swimming and one that houses a range of plants that counteract bacteria – natural pools represent the best of nature. Looking more like a body of water you’d stumble upon in a secret forest rather than a man-made structure, natural pools are stunning centrepieces and make the perfect accompaniment to a ‘back to nature’ backyard.


Water can also take centre stage in a nature- inspired space through the inclusion of water features.

Whether incorporated as a standalone feature or as part of the pool, a waterfall-style feature will enhance the aesthetic of your space and boost the serene and tranquil feel of your backyard.

From a discreet and comparatively sleek contemporary design, where water seeps gently into the pool via a timber or steel overhead beam, right through to an elaborate rock formation that water trickles over, having running water will contribute to the ambience of your project greatly.

Additionally, a freestanding water fountain will make an attractive showpiece, while a stone bird bath can provide a naturalistic look and feel while still serving a practical purpose.


A key consideration for your au naturel design is the colours you select to bring it to life. This is no place for bright tones or colours that don’t generally occur in a natural setting, so forego the fluoro in favour of more realistic hues.

Using as many natural products as possible will result in a genuine (and effortless) colour palette, so let your product selection guide you. The colours in timber, plants and natural stone are ideal, so consider one of these for your pool interior.

Whether you’re using tiles or paint for your pool interior, a shade of green, taupe or brilliant blue can provide a naturalistic, complementary and beautiful element to your space. Think of naturally-occurring bodies of water to gain inspiration for your space, such as a lagoon,

beach or natural spring, and try to replicate the features into your design. Likewise, if you’re adding things like seating or shelter into your backyard, try to use natural products such as timber or stone where possible, and keep within the earthy palette to retain an authentic look.


Natural rock and stone will most likely feature heavily in your design. Perfect for your pool surround, paving, steps, as a slab base for seating or as a feature in its own right, stone and rock serves the dual purpose of being highly functional as well as eye-catching.

You can go all-out, and have massive stacked boulders as your pool’s surrounds – which can be great for incorporating a water feature – or use rock more sparingly.

Stone and rock around a pool will enhance the natural feel of the area and is a great way to achieve a unique appearance. Children will love sitting on the large rocks, and they can be a great place to catch some sun!

You can also use stone for pavers and pool coping. Embracing the natural patterns and size and colour variations in stone works wonders here: when you’re going for a natural look, you don’t have to be concerned with colour-matching every individual piece or ensuring a uniform appearance. The ‘unfinished’, raw quality of rock and stone lends authenticity to the aesthetic, so forget about flawless glistening tiles and go for a more subtle style. Just remember to opt for products with a smooth finish so they’re comfortable underfoot.


The path from your house to the pool and/or other parts of your outdoor space presents another perfect opportunity for honing a natural look. In order to replicate the beauty of a naturally- occurring pathway, opt for a meandering style with stone pavers in an array of shapes and sizes – again, remember that symmetry and perfection is not the best way to approach this look.

Alternatively, you could incorporate timber stepping stones surrounded by smooth pebbles, or stone pavers for steps, surrounded by smaller, smooth stones or bark chips.

Avoid pathways in straight lines, or paths that look too ‘finished’. Instead consider uneven edges along each side of the path, and remember the materials used should be smooth underfoot but not shiny or perfectly colour- and size-matched.


Last but certainly not least, foliage has a significant role to play in creating a nature- inspired outdoor space. From the tiniest of flowers to huge, sprawling hedges, plants and trees, natural-style spaces call for flora, and plenty of it!

Set aside space for grassed areas where pets and children can play and where you can relax by the pool with a book on a summer’s day. Trees can be planted to provide shade and hedges can be included for privacy from neighbouring properties and to offer a sense of enclosure to your outdoor space.

Because a design of this nature will necessitate more plants and flowers than a minimalistic space would, you’ll no doubt want an abundance of plantings.

The best way to approach this is to include local plant varieties that will suit the soil you have and the weather conditions typical to your locale. Australian natives and hardy drought- and frost- resistant plant varieties will be ideal. Mixing a wide range of different plants, trees and flowers is a great idea, as it is unlikely you’d find only one or two varieties in a natural setting. The more, the merrier!

A major benefit to a natural-style space is that, like in nature, your garden can afford to be a little unkempt, so if you’re not into maintenance, this is definitely the garden for you. Overgrown hedges or masses of flowers won’t look out of place so if you skip the occasional gardening routine, it won’t be detrimental to the space.

When establishing the garden, it’s a good idea to plant in layers. Offering additional privacy and a beautiful enhancement to the yard, planting layers in the space will provide visual diversity and effortlessly echo the way plants and trees naturally grow.

Aim for plants and shrubs of different colours, heights and textures in order to achieve a genuine, not overly-styled look.


Aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal of a natural space, by having plentiful plants and flowers in your space, your garden can provide a haven for local birdlife during the warmer months. Just watch out for insects and spiders!

Working from a palette of stone, timber, water and plenty of foliage (as well as a great design) your outdoor space can negate the look of a meticulously crafted backyard and more closely resemble the beauty of a rainforest or the woods.

Remember to keep to natural, non-synthetic materials where possible, and ensure any built or artificial elements remain in keeping with the natural colour scheme in order to avoid looking incongruous or overly styled – anything that looks too polished will be out of place.

Once your space is completed, all that’s left to do is sit back and relax – and don’t worry about mowing the lawn or trimming the hedges – with your back to nature aesthetic in place, it can wait!


Read 38484 times Last modified on Friday, 16 January 2015 03:41