Friday, 05 August 2016 00:00

Estate Style

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A housing estate is the epitome of a blank gardening canvas, and the ideal way to make your mark in a brand new space. Standing out in a sea of fresh-cut grass and linear pathways, however, can be a challenge. To help you create a garden that’s uniquely you, April Davis speaks with Joel Barnett from InStyle Gardens, Eugene Bouchaud from e.Scape Landscape Construction Solutions and Simon Thorne from Dream Making Landscapes.

A couple of months ago I moved into a housing estate. Before this I lived in your typical suburban street comprised mostly of traditional brick veneer homes that were popular 30 or so years ago. In the time since these homes were established, they have developed their own character – a style resultant of 30 plus years of habitation. Most developed areas have a set of units and townhouses with understated, perfectly manicured gardens, but these types of gardens only form the minority – in a housing estate they’re everywhere.

As a first-time homeowner, I wanted every element of my property to reflect my personality. I also wanted my garden to stand out when compared to my neighbours’. This sounds easy enough, but before I knew it I was drawing inspiration from the gardens around me. Suddenly, I realised my landscaping plan was looking eerily similar to at least three other houses on my street. Upon further inspection, I discovered it’s not uncommon for gardens in housing estates to look almost identical. For me, this wasn’t an option, and it doesn’t have to be for you either. Here, Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design looks at how you can create a point of difference in your yard.


Engaging the perfect landscape designer to help you refine your ideas is essential if you want to create a lush landscape you can enjoy for years to come. According to Simon Thorne, the best way to create a point of difference in your garden is by styling it around your interests.

“Getting to know [our] clients’ passions and interests and coordinating [these elements] into a design” is a must, he says.

Giving your landscaper the freedom to work their magic will also help your garden stand out. A lot of homeowners choose to play it safe and stick with the basics, but this is exactly what everyone else tends to do. Thinking outside the box is the best way to make your space unique.

“I’d recommend engaging a landscape designer and giving them a good understanding of the fact that you’re after something unique. A lot of designers have some amazing ideas, but aren’t given the freedom to express them by clients who just want to play it safe,” says Joel Barnett.

Your landscape designer will also be able to help identify specific elements that will work well within your area. Whether it’s grass or paving, pebbles or ground cover, a skilled landscaper will help you select what’s right for you. For Eugene Bouchaud, custom pavers are always a stand out aesthetically, and are a practical addition to any space.


It can be scary leaving your garden design in someone else’s hands, but as Barnett explains, taking a risk often results in a better outcome.

“It might be a crazy idea that they come up with, but at the same time a brilliant one! And it will be in your garden to enjoy and show off. I’m sure you’ll soon find people in the neighbourhood trying to replicate what you’ve started,” he says.

Mirroring the style of your neighbour’s garden is easy, but creating something different is more rewarding. When I first moved into my new home, I spent many a night walking around looking at other people’s designs, most of which I loved. It would have been easy to take a quick photo, change a couple things around and have my landscaper put together something similar but the finished product wouldn’t have felt like my own. Instead, I picked out the parts I liked from each garden and had my landscaper work his magic to design a space that reflected my wants and needs. A lot of my garden elements are fairly standard; however, together they look fantastic! From artificial turf to vertical planters, garden beds to low-maintenance plants, I now have a garden that’s easy to maintain, and even easier to enjoy.

“You’ll soon find people in the neighbourhood trying to replicate what you’ve started.”

Team With A Theme

A themed garden is another great way to create a point of difference. This can be done in a million different ways and some will be riskier than others.

“Themed gardens can work well as long as everyone in the street [is] not doing the same,” says Thorne.

“A lot of it has to do with personal taste,” says Barnett. “Some people might love a tropical garden, while others think it’s silly and prefer a native garden, but they [can both] be effective, and even unique to the estate.”

The number one thing to be aware of when planning a themed garden is what sort of climate and soil conditions are prevalent in your area. Even though other people in your estate might do a similar theme, the plants and decorative elements you select will ensure your garden has its own unique twist. Also keep in mind that the structural guarantee on your new home may not cover damage to your slab from invasive plant roots or in-ground water features.


If a themed garden or something really out there is a little too intimidating for you, sticking to the basics can still achieve the desired effect.

As Barnett explains, styling your garden around a few feature plants may be an old- fashioned concept but it’s also proven to be a successful approach.

“I love to use plants as the feature of a garden, which is possibly old-fashioned, but it’s a tried and tested formula. You can still be unique with plants too. There are so many different varieties to use, and literally an infinite number of combinations to mix and match,” he says.

Incorporating decorative accents is another simple yet effective way to create a visually alluring space.
“Recycled railway sleepers [standing] upright [add] a charming feature [to] a low-maintenance garden, providing plenty of character,” Bouchaud says, while steel sculptures are a winner in Barnett’s eyes.

According to Thorne, the ultimate goal is to create a garden that draws you outside.

“These are all great [features] to either make a statement or to bring people, and even birds to the garden. We want to create, and add things that make us want to walk out and enjoy the garden.”


On their own, plants and decorative accents look great. Together, they look even better!
“Plants are [the] heroes of just about any garden design, and I think the same when I’m working with statues, sculptures [and] art. I like to use the plant with the art,” says Barnett.

Whether it’s a sculpture framing a feature plant or a pot filled with cascading foliage, combining plants with decorative accents opens up a world of design possibilities. As Barnett explains, however, care needs to be taken as the wrong combination can have the opposite effect.

“It’s important to select the right pair, as a plant that gets too big can dwarf the art, causing it to lose effect, so choose wisely and for the long- term,” he says.

The number one thing to consider when selecting each of your design elements is suitability. If you want to include pots or sculptures in your yard make sure they complement your existing or planned soft and hardscaping. If you can use complementary colours, textures and styles, you will be on track to creating an aesthetically pleasing garden design that’s also cohesive.


Regardless of the style and design of your garden, lighting is a must!

“Lighting brings the landscape to life at night. Ambient lighting is very important, [as] lighting the environment and highlighting the garden’s features is crucial,” Bouchaud says.

Or, as Thorne explains, “Lighting can make features that are usually lost during the day [stand out at night].”

Often forgotten about or underrated, lighting adds depth and differing perspectives to your garden.

“I’ve got a beautiful aloe tree in my front yard [that] projects its shadow onto my garage door thanks to a street light. I absolutely love it, and often stand out the front staring at it – my neighbours must think I’m mad! But, it’s a great example of how lighting can enhance your garden, not to mention the importance of [your] lighting’s position [in the garden],” says Barnett.
When positioned correctly, garden lights will project shadows and highlight certain aspects of your garden. Whether it’s the flowers on your favourite bush or the intricate detail on a sculpture, soft lighting will help draw your eye to the particularly noteworthy areas in your yard.

“A garden designed without lights is like having a mobile phone that only makes calls. That may be all someone is after, and that’s fine, but a garden design with lighting is like a smart phone in comparison; so many opportunities!” Barnett says.

“A garden designed without lights is like having a mobile phone that only makes calls.”


If you want your hard work to pay off, and look forward to weekends spent meandering around your beautifully landscaped space, remember to have some fun.

Anyone can plant some grass and chuck a garden gnome at the front door, but doing the bare minimum won’t get you the enjoyment you deserve. Purchase a quirky above-ground water feature, install a fish pond or hang some artwork – get creative! There’s a property down in Rosebud right on the beach that has old thongs attached to the fence. I once asked the owner where they came from, and he said he collected the shoes people left behind on the beach and liked to put them on display. There’s no reason you can’t do something similar. There are so many different ways you can make your garden stand out from the crowd, and plenty of landscapers out there who are itching to help you get creative!

Your landscape design has the potential to transform your entire property. From creating a focal point to generating ambience through illumination, a carefully planned garden will have your neighbours stopping to smell the roses.

Read 22850 times Last modified on Friday, 05 August 2016 01:38