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680m2 Native/Natural Backyard + Front Yard Design Case Study

Suburb - Belmont

Unique challenges - Screening the apartment complex at the back of the property. We also had to keep the design quite economical due to budget.

Block size - 680m2

Construction Budget - Approx. 30K for softscapes, not including hardscapes.

"Must have" wishlist items - Garden area, shed storage so they can fit two cars into double garage, seating/firepit area within the yard, raised veggie planter, trampoline area, bench seats, front boundary wall and letterbox, shade trees, native planting.

Style - Native/Natural Garden

Package purchased: 2D + 3D design

Please describe some of your observations about the property:

Unique project because the landscaping is technically established. Their concrete driveway, side pathways, alfresco deck are already installed. But they have no garden areas, just large lawns for the front and rear.

Challenge was designing a landscape that fit their budget, and also fitting all the items on their wish list into the space. The backyard was tricky because they wanted enough lawn and garden area, but also wanted to fit the trampoline, garden sheds and firepit area. They also wanted to fit in quite a few trees.

What were the feature items of the design? Why did you choose these?

Jarrah timber sleepers, corten steel, summerstone gravel fines, timber bench seats, custom boulder/sleeper bench seat and the trees. I chose the jarrah timber sleepers, corten steel, boulders and gravel fines because I like to use natural materials in my designs, especially for native gardens.

Were there any aspects the client wanted that you said weren't possible? Why?

They were considering including some very large eucalypts in the garden such as spotted gum. However given the maintenance and the size these can reach we ultimately decided against them.

They did want to have a lot more raised beds, but to help the project to remain economical we decided against that too.

I chose summerstone gravel as the flooring as it is a lot more cost effective than paving. I considered using summerstone around the sleepers to the front door, but ultimately chose not too because of the added costs involved with edging between all the sleepers etc.

Using renders/images from the final design, provide a summary of decisions made throughout the design process and why you made these decisions.

Starting with the front…

exterior house design

The front verge is a nice mixture of lawn and garden. The street tree we selected is a Crepe Myrtle Natchez to match the one in the front yard. These are a beautiful ornamental tree and it is also on the councils list of approved verge trees. I didn’t choose something larger so as not to block the front façade, and the jacaranda in the corner of the front yard has enough height and will provide good shade to the front.

The wall was originally going to be a 1.8m structure with piers and infill fencing, however we ultimately settled on the lower wall because:

a) it was not required for security, only for aesthetics and providing structure.

b) The higher wall made the front feel very enclosed

c) the higher wall was a large added expense, especially with the infill fencing which is not required at all with the low wall option.

house garden design

We used jarrah timber steppers to create a natural pathway for pedestrians to access the front door, as well as provide access to the letterbox. The Crepe Myrtle here is positioned so that eventually pedestrians will walk below the canopy on the way to the front door. It is also visible from the front hallway, but doesn’t block sight-lines to the street.

The front hedge will provide privacy without making the space feel too enclosed.

The garden has a lot of natives but also contains some nice exotic plants like English lavender, crassula blue bird, dichondra silver falls and dwarf mondo grass etc.

sleeper bench seat gravel stone

This little sitting area with the boutique boulder & sleeper bench seat was designed to give the client an area to sit and enjoy the morning sunshine.

I used Summerstone gravel fines as the flooring here since it works well with the colour scheme, natural materials and shapes. Ideally the fines will be stabilised, but it's far enough away from the house that the gravel tracking shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

landscape design

One of the challenges on this project was creating a design that didn’t require the existing exposed aggregate pathways to be moved. The client’s budget didn’t really allow for changes like that, so I had to design the layout in a way that accommodated the existing pathways, but also looked and felt right.

firepit garden design

The star of the backyard was the firepit area. Originally designed in an arched shape with steppers and gravel leading to the area from the alfresco, we settled on the circular shape to retain as much grass area as possible.

The bench seats are designed in a floating style, with lush planting below to hide the frame and support brackets below.

We made the decision to paint the existing masonry wall a dark grey so that the backyard feels more spacious and to make the plants stand out against it.

I chose a Hong Kong orchid tree for the firepit corner because of its ornamental value and because it can be under pruned to create a nice canopy over the area as it matures.

The creepers shown on the walls are Madagascar jasmine and are a beautiful climbing plant for masonry walls, especially dark ones.

Weeping Lilly Pilly sreening trees

The trees along the rear boundary are Waterhousea floribunda, commonly known as Weeping Lilly Pilly. These were selected because the clients have an apartment complex behind their home and they wanted a good screening plant to grow along the boundary to screen it off. Originally we looked at a deciduous tree such as the Chanticleer Pear or the Crimson Spire Plum, but settled on the Weeping Lilly Pilly since it was evergreen and more in keeping with the other planting.


Another Jacaranda was selected for the rear corner, and we also had to fit in a trampoline, Japanese Maple, veggie box and garden sheds.

veggie planter box design

The veggie box fits snugly in behind the maple, which acts as as nice screen to hide it from the rest of the garden.

shed storage garden design

The garden sheds were of paramount importance as the client needed a place for storage to free up space in their double garage so they could park both cars. We ultimately settled on some nice slimline sheds down the side of the house, with sliding doors for access. The sheds are outside the theatre room so are visually unobtrusive from both inside and outside the home.

2D garden landscape design

Here is a final image of the site plan/layout. All in all this was a really fun project to design and we are looking forward to seeing it brought to life!

The feedback:

“Hi John, we were really blown away by your designs and are really excited for how our garden will look… seeing your designs in 3D really helped us decide what we think will work for us.”

We hope you enjoyed this case study of one of our Landscape design clients! If you'd like us to help transform your space, get in touch today!

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